Ah, summer — a most lovely time to be at the Beaches. The sun is shining, the ocean is inviting, the local joints’ food (and drinks) taste better, and, best of all, time is left to keep track of itself. For most, summer on our barrier island is nothing short of a 95-day weekend filled with more good times and memory-making opportunities than any other season. One of the only things that can put a serious kink in this hose that brings limitless joy is the season’s inevitable influx of vehicular congestion and/or cluelessness, perhaps better known as “traffic.”
In the summer, 1st Street through A1A, as well as the major boulevards, practically nurture road rage and sadness. Any excitement of getting from Point A (your bed or whatever surface you slept on) to Point B (Delicomb, Maple Street or the beach) is quickly hijacked and replaced with frustration stemming from being stuck behind overly-hesitant drivers who are often entirely new to the area. Trips that once felt like two minutes now feel like 20 minutes. It’s almost as if the entire beach becomes one big Bagel World parking lot (or some other unnavigable place that distributes delight just out of our reach). So, for everyone’s sake, here’s a few reasonable ways to maneuver through the madness.
The best method of navigating our street congestion in the summer is anything but new — buy a bike. I feel ridiculous for even suggesting this because of how known of a great investment it is. Most of us have been whipping the beach cruiser since middle school. The benefits? Easy-to-use, (almost) all-terrain access, low cost and maintenance, extremely customizable (if that’s your thing), low-key exercise and fun to ride. Biking to breakfast in the morning, to the beach/happy hour in the afternoon and to dinner and late-night activities with the family or crew is by far 10x more enjoyable than being confined to a car and at the mercy of street-lights and stop signs.
For the price of one or two tanks of gas, you can pick up a used bike off Craigslist that will last you all summer. If you’re really ready to go in on a bike, you can scoop a freshie from any one of the several shops around the beach for about $250. Brand new bikes can provide happiness for anywhere between 3 to 5 years, sometimes longer. Just make sure to grab a decent bike lock as well — it will serve you and your investment wonderfully, especially around the 4th of July and other bike-heavy summer events.
A great, and fairly new, option for getting around the Beaches is by using Beachside Buggies. The environmentally-friendly golf-cart and van service is super quick, free and covers almost all of the Beaches. The drivers have fantastic knowledge of the area and how to best get you to your destination. I can personally testify that as both a late-night and I-need-to-get-to-my-car-in-the-morning option, this service is a #gift #from #above. Beachside Buggies operates from 9 a.m. to 12 a.m., Monday through Thursday, and until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Just call (904)-887-441 to request a ride, and make sure to tip your driver!
Also worthy of mention is the reboot of the Beaches Trolley. It might not be your first choice for getting around the beaches, but it exists and you will benefit from knowing about it. Trips only cost $1.50 each way, with $4 for a one-day pass or $10 for a three-day pass. The trolley is a solid option for groups of friends and family that are visiting as well as residents that are without a vehicle or access to any of the previous recommendations. Four separate trolleys run on a 15-minute frequency, Friday through Sunday, from South Beach Parkway Shopping Center to Atlantic Blvd, including a dip into downtown Jax Beach along the way. Check out JTA’s website for a complete rundown of the trolley’s schedule and route.
Regardless of how you get around the Beaches this summer, the key is to take advantage of and enjoy everything the season has to offer. Of course, there will be times where we need to hop in the car and gun it to wherever we’re needed, and surely, there will be times where things in need of transport won’t fit in the bike basket — this is life. But if we can encourage smarter transportation when possible and avoid contributing to the fated amount of summer traffic, I think we’ll find significant portion of our summers filled with less frustration and more enjoyment.