I spent this past weekend at St. Pete Beach and Ft. DeSoto Park. It was a beautiful place to visit and bike.
The Ft. DeSoto area not only had bike lanes along the roadway, but also had a wide trail that accommodated both cyclists and runners/walkers. The island had a bike rental area that provided bikes of all types and sizes.
The St. Pete area was your typical beach tourist area. It also had bike lanes, but they were <3' in width, and felt pretty dangerous with cars constantly making turns in and out of driveways. They also had several bike rental shops, but this just seemed to add to the safety issues on the road.
The tourists that rented bikes were not used to riding, much less riding on the road around cars. The majority of the riders that I saw just rode on the sidewalk. Some of the riders that did venture into the narrow bike lane, didn't know the rules of the road. I got to witness all of the typical novice rider mistakes; riding against the flow of traffic, on and off the sidewalk and the roadway, talking on the phone while riding, etc. The only riders that I saw wearing helmets were spandex clad riders out for group rides.
The area needs additional trails or wider bike lanes, to give people a comfortable ride on the road and off sidewalks. It would also help if rental companies could do a little more to teach road safety and riding techniques, before giving novice riders a bike and sending them out to fight the bumper to bumper tourist traffic.
If the tourist towns could get more people on bikes to make their short trips out for dinner or sunscreen, the bumper to bumper traffic could potentially become a more manageable flow.