There's no better way to explore a small, beach community than by bicycle, says Rick Thompson of Seaside Transit Authority (STA).
"It's a great way to see the architecture, the beauty of the place," Thompson said. "It's part of the allure. It's what you do here."
Whether you want to take a trip along 30A or cruise through the tree-lined streets of Seaside, Fla., you're covered at STA, one of community's newest companies and your one-stop shop for bike rentals.
The Seaside Transit Authority has a fleet of 365 bikes including tandem, tag-a-longs, men's, women's and children's bikes, 90 percent of which were designed and manufactured specifically for the rental company.
Booking one for yourself is easy. You can make a reservation online or walk up to the counter in-between Sundog Books and Great Southern Cafe. There are no time requirements and you can rent a bicycle for as little as one hour or throughout your extended stay.
Thompson and staff don't just rent bikes. They ride them too. Now that the weather is warming up, Thompson is planning to commute to work on his new bike. STA's lead bike technician, who handles maintenance on all 365 bikes, even graduated from the United Bicycle Institute in Oregon. The staff passes on their knowledge by fitting each rider to their bike and giving a short riding lesson with each rental.
The bikes are just as attractive as the scenery. Thompson did a lot of research and even contacted manufactures to choose the best bike model and design.
The final process was making them attractive. Thompson stuck with the Seaside logo against the all-white bike to keep with the minimalist design of the community.
The bikes aren't just aesthetically pleasing. The all-stainless steel classic beach cruiser features road-smoothing comfort tread tires and relaxed upright seating position with a memory foam saddle. The bike's look and design fit the business' motto: "A simple, beautiful ride."
"Residents and tourists love the look," Thompson said. "You'd be amazed how many have stopped to take pictures of the bikes."
Bike rentals include a wicker basket, lock, helmet and training wheels, should your little one need them. You can also rent cargo trailers to haul your beach equipment. At the end of the month, STA will add bells.
"Eventually, we'd like to get the word out on Facebook and Twitter and have people ring their bells at noon — ding dong time, and start a tradition," Thompson said.
Tradition, Thompson said, is one of the themes of Seaside. Adding to a families' vacation traditions is something he looks forward to. That's why he points out areas of interest to new tourists.
"It's something different, something unique," Thompson said. "People come for generations."
STA has only been open for about a week and yet has already exceeded Thompson's expectations.
"The response has been incredible," he said.
As far as the future of Seaside Transit Authority, Thompson said he'd like to tread lightly — no pun intended, but eventually sees the business expanding into retail, selling souvenirs and bikes. Thompson believes renters will want to become owners after riding one of his beach cruisers.
Until then, Thompson and staff will be busy during their first spring and summer breaks as a business.
"Right now, we want to focus on providing a good, quality rental product," he said.
How to Rent: You can make a reservation online at www.seasidetransitauthority.com, by phone at 231-0035 or stop by Seaside Transit Authority, 87 Central Square, Seaside, located between Sundog Books and Great Southern Cafe.