Visitors to Tampa will soon have a convenient new way to explore the city. As part of a larger effort to connect Tampa neighborhoods via pedestrian- and bike-friendly walkways, the city is joining the ranks of cities such as New York and D.C. by offering a bike share program. Perfect for locals as well as visitors, the conveniently located bikes will allow for quick and easy transit in some of the city’s busiest neighborhoods.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn tries out one of Coast Bike Share's new rides — Photo courtesy of Coast Bike Share
In collaboration with the city, Coast Bike Share is working overtime to stock bike stations, or "SoBi" (short for Social Bicycle) Hubs, located throughout the attraction-packed Hyde Park, downtown and Ybor City neighborhoods. By the end of August, 300 brand-spanking-new bikes will be standing by for your touring pleasure.
To get started, visit the Coast Bike Share website and sign up for a membership. If you’re just going to be using the service once or twice, you can sign up for a pay-as-you-go membership, which costs $5 per hour. If you’re going to be in Tampa for a longer period of time, it may be cost effective to purchase a monthly membership for $30, which includes one hour of free ride time per day.
Once you have a membership, you’re ready to grab a bike and hit the road. To find the SoBi Hub nearest you, you can check out the interactive map on their website, or download the Social Bicycle app from Google Play or the App Store.
One of the benefits of downloading the app is that you can obtain walking directions to the nearest hub - very helpful if you don’t know your way around. Another benefit is that you have the option of posting your route to social media and letting your friends know what you've been up to.
The bikes themselves are sky blue and coaster style, designed to be safe, sturdy and vandalism resistant. Features include a front basket, headlight and taillight and a driveshaft instead of a chain to save us all from greasy pant legs. Mounted on the back of the bike is a computer with GPS and a sales interface, where you enter your account number and pin code to access the bike.
Locks are also included with the bike, so no matter where you go, you can be sure the bike is secure. While the bikes are designed to be picked up and dropped off at the assigned hubs, bikes can be left at any regular bike rack for a small extra fee.