Giving a tour of your town completely expands when you’re on a bicycle. You can go further and faster than on foot, covering more places and scenery. But you can see so much more than when you are in a car – not just the destinations, but the connective tissue of the town, the roads and forests and residential areas.
I recently had the opportunity to give my friend Kristin a semi-tour of Rockville. She works in Rockville Town Square, but doesn’t venture out much. Although honestly, I didn’t venture out from my neighborhood and Town Square until I started biking the city! We were originally going to go for a 30 mile ride, but a bit of a time crunch led to a change in plans.
Rather than going to Bethesda and back, we decided to take a lap around Rockville’s bicycle beltway, the Carl Henn Millennium Trail and add on a little more. She had heard of the Millennium Trail, but had never been on it. The Millennium Trail is a wide, well-maintained trail that parallels many of Rockville’s biggest, most bike-unfriendly roads. It opens access to many places that would be difficult or very inconvenient to bike to otherwise. Kristin was quite pleased to experience it, and I was glad to introduce it to her.
We did a fun, quick hustle around most of the trail, but decided that we wanted to see more of the City’s interior. With a bit of absurd backpedaling, I got up a teeny hill into Rockville’s residential streets. Unlike the big highways encircling Rockville, the residential streets in the middle of the city are pleasantly calm and untrafficked. Some of them have bike lanes, but most don’t need them. They’re easy to use for a leisurely ride, and our meandering speed allowed me spotted a Chevy Volt, the first one I’ve seen in “the wild.” (I’ve seen Volts at a lot at electric vehicle events before.) Rockville’s streets are also very well-signed, pointing to the Town Square, Swim Center, local college and more. Upon seeing a sign, Kristin said her co-workers were interested in going to the Swim Center, but she didn’t know it was worth it. I recommended it to her, describing the gloriously fun slide and Olympic lap lanes. Then, although I had planned on stopping for a snack in Town Center, Kristin pointed out to me that she was in Town Center all of the time. Instead, we detoured to Carmen’s Italian Ice, introducing Kristin to a new local business. In fact, she enjoyed her basil/pineapple popsicle so much, and looked forward to trying their ices, that she declared she would definitely be visiting on a future lunch break.
Although I was going to show her a few more shortcuts and bits of bike infrastructure, like the bikes-only bridge across the highway, it started raining right after we left Carmen’s. We hustled back to Town Center, then as the train slowed and then stopped completely, took another swing around part of the Millennium Trail.
All in all, we had a relatively short ride, but one that provided a more of a peek into Rockville than Kristin ever had before. It was fun to point out many of the places and ride the pathways with someone else, and experience them anew for myself.