ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — At Thursday’s St. Petersburg City Council meeting, officials plan to discuss a way to help people who don’t have access to transportation, get around town.
“We don’t have as robust of a public transit system as we’d like to have in St. Petersburg, in our region,” said Robert Blackmon, St. Petersburg City Council Member.
That’s one of the reasons why Blackmon, who is also running for mayor, is suggesting using the city’s electric scooter program to help.
“Transportation is one of the primary issues and problems with people getting employment,” said Blackmon.
The idea is to use money from the scooters to help people commute.
“Why don’t we divert some of the money for a program where those who have an economic need can apply to get a free bicycle,” said Blackmon.
The e-scooters are largely used downtown for leisure and soon the city is expected to make about $20,000 a month from the program.
Blackmon says one of the targeted goals for that revenue is for multi-modal transportation improvements.
“So the program I was thinking is if you can prove that you are cost-burdened and need a bicycle for transportation you can apply and we can give you a bicycle, a helmet, a lock, and we register the bicycle, the serial number, with the police department and you’d be able to have a free bicycle,” said Blackmon.
This would be for people experiencing finical hardships from the pandemic, low-income communities, families that are financially burdened, or even someone who doesn’t have a license and can’t drive a vehicle.
“If you figure the cost of a bicycle, a helmet, and a lock is maybe $250, I just think it will be a small percentage of our overall income but it will also be a meaningful way to spend the money especially for those who need it the most,” said Blackmon.
“Bicycles can be a cost-effective, low maintenance way to commute in our area and I just figured — hey, if we can inexpensively afford to help those who may need it to get back on their feet, then I will always stand for that,” he added.
Thursday is the first time Blackmon is presenting this idea to the city council.
The meeting starts at 9 a.m.