St. Pete mayor Rick Kriseman’s “Bike to Work Day” drew only 24 riders this past Friday. Despite wide promotion using a happy and colorful flyer, three advertised gathering points, and an appearance by the mayor himself, the turnout was anemic.
One of the three gathering points was the Morean Center for Clay. According to city communications director Ben Kirby, Kriseman departed the Morean on a bicycle from Coast Bike Share, a service subsidized by public funds from the city.
Kriseman was dressed in business attire for the 1.7 mile 7:15 A.M. ride “to work.” Whether such attire is ideal to bike from work in afternoon heat (and possible rain) is less clear.
We also asked Kirby how the mayor arrived at the Morean. Kirby did not answer, and would not confirm or deny that the mayor was driven to the event in the Tahoe, even after we e-mailed Kirby a picture of it.
Kirby said “there were a total of 55 participants in the Mayor’s Bike to Work Day.” However, we only counted a total of 24 people at the three locations, with 19 of those at the location the mayor was at. We therefore asked Kirby to clarify what he meant by “participant.” Kirby did not respond.
The city website says that Kriseman has personally committed to “to addressing climate change through greenhouse gas emissions reductions.” However, according to federal data the eight-cylinder 5.3 liter Tahoe generates over a pound of CO2 per mile driven. According to the EPA, CO2 accounts for 82% of greenhouse gas emissions in the US.
Kriseman supports the so-called “Complete Streets” effort in St. Pete , in particular along MLK. Among other things, Complete Streets seeks to add bike lanes along major thoroughfares in the city.
The MLK project has generated considerable local opposition, including from from Citizens Against Lane Loss. The group says losing a general traffic lane increases traffic congestion, and that hardly anyone uses the bike lanes. The group say that the weak attendance at the “Bike to Work” event proves the latter point.