Cyclists ride to save Mayport ferry

The Jacksonville Port Authority Board met to discuss the future of the Mayport Ferry.
The Jacksonville Port Authority Board met to discuss the future of the Mayport Ferry.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On any given Saturday, the St. Johns River Ferry carries 1,300 to 1,500 cars, and plenty of cyclists.

Saturday, the group working to save the ferry wanted to harness those numbers to show their support. They were planning to break a record with 200 bicyclists, however the weather kept many away. But the group of 30 that did show up was hardy and said they hold the cause close to their hearts.

"I just came down here to see what was going on and to be here and to help save the ferry," cyclist Una Orr said.

The ferry is set to shut down Sept. 30, when its contract with the Jacksonville Port Authority expires. Right now, there's no one ready to take over responsibility for running the ferry or the $4 million worth of needed repairs.  

"I think a lot of people would like to see it go on," Orr said. "Like I say, it's the only one in the state and it's been here for what 50 years?"

Sixty-three years, actually. Orr was one of the first riders, so it's only fitting she's back for the self-titled "flash cog"—the ferry/cyclists' version of a flash mob.

"If you want to ride the Greenway or you want to ride A1A, that ferry route is the most convenient way, or you're going to do the Mainstreet Bridge," Curtis Loftus with Keep the Ferry said.

The Mainstreet Bridge route adds an additional 30 miles of pedaling.

There is some hope for the ferry. This week, the Florida Department of Transportation has agreed to help keep the ferry up and running, but not alone. It agreed to a partnership of some kind that the flash coggers hope their stunt will help stir up.