PALM HARBOR — An average of 250,000 people bike, walk or jog the Pinellas Trail every month. However, those in charge of the 70-mile-path say they want it to be more than just a place of exercise but an overall cultural experience.
So they are giving cyclists a reason to pump the brakes and take a picture along the Pinellas Trail this week.
“Its like a stamp of approval from the community saying that my work is valuable and that I’m an asset and that's nice, I love it,” said artist Yhali Ilan.
Ilan said it was an honor to be one of four local artists chosen to paint two overpasses along the trail, one in Palm Harbor and the other in Tarpon Springs. Each one has a different Florida theme.
“I wanted to portray part of the landscape which is not visited by a lot of people and kind of put it on blast and say, ‘check it out we got islands,’” said Ilan.
On the other side of the tunnel, artist Taylor Smith is working on two giant herons.
“Ever since I moved here four years ago I see them all the time,” said Smith with Dreamweaver Designs. “I love being able to give back and make people smile through my work.”
Not only are the murals majestic, but they also cover up what was becoming a growing problem, graffiti.
“Our parks department will go and paint over in plain gray paint and the next day they’ll come back and they’ll be graffiti on the tunnels,” said Alexis Ferguson with Pinellas County Public Works.
Ferguson is not only a public works employee but she rides the trail all the time. She said it’s been proven these murals detract from crime.
“There is a respect among graffiti artists and our local artists here painting murals that they don’t tag the art murals and that’s been seen throughout the county,” said Ferguson.
While Creative Pinellas CEO Barbara St. Clair believes these murals escalate the trail from a bike path to a bike destination.
“If something is beautiful, if something has great design, if something is vibrant, people feel very comfortable and they want to be a part of it,” said St. Clair.
The plan is to continue to add more art to the trail every year.