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The Tentacle


February 18, 2010

Life in the Fast Lane

Norman M. Covert

My bicycle has become an historical artifact. Underneath this white stuff is Frederick City’s bicycle path that provides a highway to a younger and healthier time. The north extension is a road to nowhere, stopping short of Schifferstadt Architectural Museum.

 

The bicycle path extends the length of Carroll Creek adjacent to Culler Lake and Baker Park to East Patrick Street. Some evidence suggests this route may have been a trail to the Catoctin Highlands for early native tribes, but that’s another story.

 

It is vital you not confuse city thoroughfares as “Bike Paths” in any form of expression. These streets/roads are for the exclusive use of motorized vehicles – and don’t you forget it!

 

Access routes emanating from the Square Corner are now forbidden fruit for this rider. The capable cardiologist ordered “The Green Hornet” (a single speed, ’62 Schwinn American) locked in the garage until warmer weather and more level routes can be determined for egress and ingress.

 

Extension of the bicycle path began last summer at Fairview Ave. It would connect with Linear Greenway Park and Rock Creek Park off Baughman’s Lane. Workers finished the grading and macadam surface as winter loomed.

 

Many bikers applaud the path’s route at this point and its potential for safe riding. If you’ve been there, however, reality belies year-round utility of the path. At some point it will surely be under water.

 

You can’t miss the nearly 50-foot altitude drop to Carroll Creek, meandering below the West Second Street sidewalk near Schifferstadt. The area is a watershed, with imposing high ground on all sides. Water cascades downhill and Carroll Creek is the tributary of choice.

 

The site has been designated a Forest Conservation Mitigation area. A young forest has been planted on both sides of the highway foundation as part of the “Maryland Plants Trees” initiative. Could it be that the saplings will thrive on a fire hose of water and simultaneously solidify the surface?

 

The City of Frederick gave permission for Francis Scott Key District to hold its 1985 Spring Boy Scout Camporee at the site to offer a public demonstration of the local youth program. Nearly 375 Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and their leaders staked tents, dining flys and above ground fire pits at the site, carefully avoiding the historic property adjacent.

 

As the Friday night setup took place, young Scouts learned tent stakes could be inserted by hand in the soft ground. That spurred many units to relocate shelters closer to the West Second Street side. Sleeping bags required extra ground cloths.

 

The weather was beautiful and we survived. Boy Scouts are supposed to “Be Prepared” for any contingency in the wild. Carroll Creek, the site and Schifferstadt endured the disturbance with no environmental chaos. The affair was deemed a success despite the difficulty of taking part in “The Grand Old Duke of York” action song while seated on the hill.

 

Roelke Myers, director of Frederick City’s Parks and Recreation, has not announced a final decision on the proposal to bore a tunnel under Route 15, or to carve a path behind Schifferstadt. Either choice could safely lead bikers beyond the overpass and congested Rosemont Avenue, which channels cars at the southbound off-ramp of US Route 15N.

 

Bikers still brave the perilous Rosemont and West 2nd Street intersection, where they must ride the sidewalk or be crushed.

 

Patrolling Carroll Creek and environs was more acceptable before the great white deluge set upon us a fortnight ago and the weather was more seemly.

 

Six-year-old Nicholas never lost an opportunity to plead that we head out on our bikes for a late afternoon excursion during the moderate weather. The compass pointed toward Rosemont Avenue. We then had to brave the crossing to West Second Street and seek the shared path along Carroll Creek. It was doable.

 

The daring grandson sloughed off the physical exertion of motivating his 18-inch bike. He was too trusting that automobile drivers would yield, allowing access across Fairview, West College Terrace, Bentz and South Market streets. He perceived the halfway house as Ben & Jerry’s, which was hard to deny.

 

We enjoyed fresh air, the cardio, meeting and greeting local citizenry, babies in their own conveyances and dogs sometimes on a leash. We were chastised one late fall evening for arriving home after dark. We had ridden to the MARC Station to greet the 5:08 P.M. train, which arrived at 5:25 and departed seven minutes later.

 

We took our tongue lashing in stride, offering a look of mea culpa, but crossing our fingers behind, licking our lips for residue from chocolate and pumpkin ice cream cones proffered at Carroll Creek Promenade.

 

Come on warm weather! The Green Hornet is anxious to try out the new Bike Path extension, wet or dry.

 



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