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That time when you rode a Coast bike for more than 28 miles…

By Charlie Frago
Some intrepid pedalers took Coast bikes for rides longer than a marathon. Source: CycleHop

When the Coast bikes first started popping up in St. Petersburg last year, the idea was for residents to use them for short hops around town.

But some users had more ambitious plans.

At the request of the Tampa Bay Times, CycleHop, which partners with the city to provide the bike share service, did some data-mining to come up with the five longest rides taken so far around the Sunshine City.

Not surprisingly, most of those rides ended up at water's edge–either Boca Ciega Bay, St. Pete Beach or the Sunshine Skyway.

The longest? A 28.51 mile trek from the bike share stand at Bay Shore Drive and 5th Avenue North to War Memorial Veterans Park across Boca Ciega Bay from Madeira Beach.

It appears two bikers cycled that route (shown in red) for a little over five hours on May 2.

Other meanderings:

Sunshine Skyway (Green) 24.33 miles, 3 hrs 49 minutes on Oct. 6

St. Pete Beach (Blue), 22.95 miles, 2 hrs on Aug. 18

Edge District, Crescent Lake, Historic Uptown, Old Northeast and Fourth Street area, 22. 48 miles, 6 hours and 9 minutes on Oct. 14.

Bike Share started out with some grumbling from City Council members and others that preferred BP settlement money be spent on sewer repairs. Eventually, just $250,000 of the BP funds were spent on the program instead of Mayor Rick Kriseman's initial plan to spend $1 million.

But the service has grown in popularity. So far, 38,575 rides have been taken for 78,379 miles in St. Petersburg, said Evan Mory, the city's transportation director.

Coast bikes are designed for one to three mile jaunts, said Eric Trull, CycleHop's regional director-Florida. One of the most popular routes is less than .3 mile trip between Urban Style Flats near Tropicana Field and the new Publix at 1st Avenue S and 8th Street S, he said.

Only 8 percent of trips are longer than five miles. A miniscule percentage—less than .5 percent—longer than 10 miles, Trull said.

"Typically, we recommend users rent a bike better suited for these longer trips from one of our local shops," Trull said.

It's heady days for biking in St. Pete.

The city is currently finishing its "Complete Streets" plan, which will provide more bike lanes.

And last month, St .Petersburg became the first major Florida city to attain "Silver-Level" bicycle friendly community status from the League of American Bicyclists. The organization recognized the city's commitment to improving conditions for bicycling.

Wednesday also marks the third anniversary of Coast's operations in Tampa Bay. Originally, launched in Tampa and on the University of South Florida campus, bicyclists have pedaled more than 500,000 since 2014.