DUNEDIN — Fittingly, bicyclists whizzed by participants in a small ceremony commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Pinellas Trail.
In that section of the trail, located just south of Main Street, usage is high since it cuts through downtown.
County Commissioner Dave Eggers presented a proclamation to Scott Daniels, vice president of Friends of the Pinellas Trail Inc., Nov. 16. Daniels played a major role in the development of the trail and activities involved with it.
"We are really excited. It's been a joy, putting a public private partnership together for the community," Daniels said in an interview.
The trail extends from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs and then to East Lake. The Pinellas Trail Loop is an interconnected network of trails that offers regional connectivity to the Hillsborough and Pasco county trail networks and the 250-mile Florida Coast-to-Coast Connector Trail.
Besides its recreational and health benefits, the trail also provides economic benefits to the area.
I’m a residential Realtor so I can tell you the value of homes adjacent and close to the trail have really increased over these three decades," Daniels said.
Today, the trail stretches for 54 miles and is used by 250,000 residents and visitors every month.
Eggers said residents have used the trail in many ways.
"To go to work. Some of them are using it to play. The cities and all our partners have embraced it. They have connected trails east and west as we continue to finish that circle in Pinellas County. And really, Pinellas County has been a leader in trails for decades," Eggers said.
On Dec. 5, 1990, the first five miles of the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail opened along an abandoned railroad corridor to provide protected greenspace for walking, running and biking.
Since the 25th anniversary of the trail, several improvements have been made, such as completion of the trail along the Duke Energy Corridor between Sunset Point Road and northeast Coachman Road.
The city of Dunedin became Florida's First Trail Town.
Eggers, who lives in Dunedin, said the city has been a good partner because they have taken over the maintenance of a section of the trail in the downtown area.
"They've lit the trail so it can be used at night. It's a part of their downtown. So they have embraced it completely," he said.
A 30-day social media campaign is underway in conjunction with the anniversary of the Pinellas Trail.
The county’s Facebook page features photos from some of their favorite locations on the trail. A new photo is posted every day at 12:05 p.m. and trail enthusiasts are encouraged to test their knowledge and guess where the photo was taken. At 9 p.m. every day, the location is revealed.
The Pinellas Trail is part of the Florida Greenways and Trails System and has been inducted into the National Rails to Trails Hall of Fame. It is a two-time winner of the Best Trail of Florida award from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
The Pinellas Trail was named in honor of Fred Marquis, former Pinellas County administrator who served from 1979 until 2000.
Tony Fabrizio, a county public information staff member, lives in Seminole near the Pinellas Trail.
"I consider it to be a wonderful amenity," he said. "I do a lot of cycling so it's my stepping off point for almost everywhere I want to go."
"It's one of the things that separates us from other places that don't have amenities like this," Fabrizio said.
Those who want to learn more about the trail can also visit https://friendsofthepinellastrail.org.