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St. Petersburg to close Bayshore Drive NE to vehicles starting Friday

The city wants more space for walking, biking, exercising
The street closure will allow those who wish to cycle or jog along the waterfront to do so while social distancing.
The street closure will allow those who wish to cycle or jog along the waterfront to do so while social distancing. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published May 21, 2020
Updated May 21, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG — City officials announced that starting Friday morning at 8 a.m., Bayshore Drive NE will be closed to vehicle traffic to make way for those who wish to walk or cycle along the waterfront while also social distancing.

The closed stretch will go from Second Avenue NE, behind the Museum of Fine Arts, along North Straub Park up to 5th Avenue NE at the foot of the The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club. The road will remain closed until further notice, officials said.

“We have been looking at opportunities to experiment with road closures and create more space for those walking, biking, and exercising,” Mayor Rick Kriseman wrote in a statement. “While this is a small stretch of road, it is heavily used and should give residents and visitors the chance to further spread out. I am hopeful it will be used wisely."

Julie Wilson, the Museum of Fine Arts’ director of marketing and communications, said the city notified the museum ahead of time and that the museum will still have access to its staff parking lot and loading dock. The museum remains closed in response to the coronavirus.

“We’re happy to have that area available for people to exercise and increase their physical distance,” she said, "but right now while the museum is closed it does have minimal impact on us.”

When the museum reopens — Wilson said she didn’t know when that would be — the museum will again work with the city to figure out parking, she said, if the street closure extends that long.

Meanwhile, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor’s administration decided on Thursday to table an idea to close Bayshore Boulevard, the iconic winding waterfront thoroughfare, for exactly the opposite reason: The administration was concerned the closed road, popular with cyclists, walkers and joggers, would attract a crowd.

Tampa has extended its closure of roads in high-density restaurant areas in downtown, Ybor City and Hyde Park through May 26.

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