St. Augustine benefits from Bike Week

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Bike week is underway in Daytona and the 10-day festival is not only a big money maker for Daytona, but some of that money trickles up Interstate 95 to St. Johns County, where it also seems to be "Bike Week" in St. Augustine.

"It's a nice ride during the day -- it's a nice ride up the coast and like I said it's a beautiful town to look at," said Tony Magistro.

Thousands of dollars are being spent in St. Augustine by bikers who say the hour ride from Daytona to St. Augustine is worth the trip. Biker Stan Bortnowski decided to stay in a hotel near St. Augustine for his yearly trip to Daytona Beach for Bike Week.

"It's just a matter of choice. We're able to get the noise in but then we come and we want to get some quiet in. We get to shop and relax and talk to people, so it's a nice thing to do," said Bortnowski.

The City of St. Augustine  is banking on people like Bortnowski, and as a courtesy, some of the parking by the shops and bars near Cathedral Place has been designated for bikers.

"I wasn't smart enough to realize that it was free, so I paid the meter and then we saw the sign that said bike parking was free. But that's a great idea to get us up here," said Kentucky resident, Jeff Taylor.

Businesses said they are seeing a 20-25 percent increase in sales as bikers look for places to shop and eat.

"It's huge for our business. We make sure that we staff accordingly. And we always pray every year that it doesn't rain so that they are safe," said manager of the Village Inn, Lisa Kuchta.

Big money is also being spent on lodging and tourist attractions.

"Bike week has brought in well over $200,000 dollars in rental income for just this week in March," said Steve Milo, with Vacation Rental Pros.

"They are at the Fort, they are at the Plaza, they are visiting St. George's Street, so it has the same draw for the people on the motorcycle as it does for the people in the mini-van," said St. Augustine Mayor Joseph Boles. 

Bike week runs through March 16.