Valet Parking on Central Between Fleet & Eastern

Valet Parking on Central Between Fleet & Eastern I didn’t have to go in to campus on Wednesday, so I spent my morning answering a thousand emails and grading a thousand this and thats until it was time to head downtown to meet C. for lunch. I took it easy, letting the bike carry me down the hill and to the left, down the Fallsway bike path and left again through Little Italy before taking a right on Central Avenue to enjoy that weird shifting bike lane down to our lunch date. Central Avenue has a bike lane that feels like nobody really planned it, they just thought they’d throw down some paint. I appreciate that after crossing Fleet, it shifts to the middle, between the straight and turn lane, but cars still don’t seem to expect me to follow that lane. And then it runs next to back-in parking and ends up taken over by the front of all those cars. Like I said, it’s a great idea to have a lane here, but yeah. I locked up my bike to a parking meter, because bike racks are still a rare thing around these parts, though there are plenty of bikes riding all over downtown. C. and I had a lovely lunch, spent mostly with him answering my zillion questions about Zipcar. He works there now, and it turned out I had a lot more questions than I thought I did about car sharing. Who cleans the car? What happens if I report low gas in a car? Is the extra insurance really worth it? (I decided that I’m finally middle class enough to start buying my way out of risk–quite the revelation.) Who names the cars? Who joins up? How do you talk folks into sharing instead of buying a car? Did they give him that logo jacket, or did he have to buy it? (They gave it to him.) And then I got a tour of the office–all open floor plan, filled with bikes and Red Bull, I even met a couple of the guys who keep all those cars clean–it was like seeing behind the curtain. I love my car share membership, even though I don’t use it all that often. Every time I go to book a car I see the actual cost of driving, and I have to stop and think: do I really need a car to do what I’m about to do? Almost always the answer is NO, but sometimes the answer is yes, and I book my car, a little extra time to go through a drive thru, because that’s what cars are really for, if you ask me. Zipcar means I don’t have to own a car, but I can still drive a car if I need to–total win, and I wish everyone would give up their cars–doesn’t yours mostly sit around all day anyway?–and jump on board with the sharing plan.

And then I wandered around the neighborhood, checking out the construction at Harbor Point(e), already missing the open view of the water, now obscured by the tall buildings going up to provide more expensive housing for people I am not entirely sure exist. I stopped at the Whole Foods for some bulk groceries and got back on the bike to head home. It’s the time of year where every ride feels like nostalgia for summertime when I take these rides much more often, and it was good to be on another old route. And then I had to jog into the traffic lane on Central because the bike lane is now valet parking for the Hyatt, another building that’s blocking the view. Talk about a total buzzkill. Urban change is always happening, whether we call it gentrification or development or something else, and loss is always a part of that change. For me, this is what the losses looked like on Wednesday–not the biggest ones by any means, but losses nonetheless.

Birds in a Bush at 32nd & Barclay

Birds in a Bush at 32nd & BarclayI meant to get a bike ride in on Monday afternoon, first down to Mount Vernon to meet E. for a chat and then, oh, wherever I felt like going. But then I was stepping off the curb with my bike and stepped funny, and I heard a crack so loud it made me want to puke on my new orange Ortlieb front roller classics. That was the end of the ride for me, so after sitting on my front steps long enough to catch my breath, I headed back inside to elevate and ice it. Sigh. Continue reading

Piles of Rubble in Sharp-Leadenhall Near Race & Ostend

Piles of Rubble in Sharp-Leadenhall Near Race & OstendThursday’s ride took me to Charles Village to meet N. for a surprise lunch before heading down to the Horseshoe Casino to invest some spare dollars and then enjoy happy hour while watching college basketball. None of that aligns with any of my political priorities, but fuck it, I’m on vacation and am basically a huge hypocrite. I left, one “cosmopolitan” and two lite beers plus some of Guy Fieri’s “vegas fries” on board, but in spite of all that, since I broke even at the slots and UCLA won a nailbiter, I considered myself a winner. Continue reading

Archival Stacks in the Basement of the UB Learning Commons at Maryland & Mt. Royal

Archival Stacks in the Basement of the UB Learning Commons at Maryland & Mt. RoyalWednesday’s ride took me down the hill to Mount Vernon for a late lunch and a whole lot of water to fight the headache that doing taxes causes. Don’t get me wrong–I love paying taxes because I love subsidized public goods like roads, transportation, safety nets (even if the stuff I want doesn’t get the money I’d give it), but It doesn’t take much time with those forms to realize that the rich don’t pay taxes at anywhere near the rates middle class people do (think home ownership, car ownership, the money to pay someone to find all the loopholes), and that’s the sort of thing that makes my whole head and neck ache. And that meant every pothole or wrinkle in the road made me feel like someone was stabbing me in the neck with an ice pick. Ouch. Continue reading

Blue Skies and Twiggy Trees at Patterson Park

Blue Skies and Twiggy Trees at Patterson ParkI’m on spring break, and oh, it is a beautiful thing. Winter was a rough go this year, and it just feels so good to feel sunshine past 7pm, even if as I write this we are under a winter weather advisory for tomorrow. Whatever, Tuesday was beautiful, even with the howling winds. My ride started heading east, because I’m usually heading west. I took the whole lane because fuck, it’s a holiday (but really because that’s the safest way to ride on 33rd Street), and headed toward Clifton Park. Continue reading

Inside a Wall at Ostend & Light

Inside a Wall at Ostend & LightFriday was one of those perfect bike riding days, first up to Roland Park for a therapy appointment and then back down the hill to treat myself to a grilled cheese sandwich and fries before riding up to Federal Hill to meet O. and her mom at her art studio where they were working on a project that is taking a precision and patience that I could never show. I stopped early on Light Street to lock up at a real rack and take a leisurely stroll up the hill. Federal Hill is all bars and restaurants and specialty dog stores and frozen yogurt and vape shoppes, what what is left after gentrification–or urban change, as I’m starting to call it in my head so I don’t jump to conclusions just based on a word–pushes on through. Continue reading

Looking Into the Sun at Maryland & North Avenue

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Commuting this week was approximately three zillion times better since I got to ride my bike instead of sit on the bus. The bus is great on those days its snowing or training, but otherwise, wow, I’d rather get places under my own power. Wednesday and Thursdays my way was the old route down to the shuttle, but because I was getting rides home, I took Brompty out. That bike is a whole different feel, sort of like Mary Poppins pedaling song, skirt waving, saying my hellos and good mornings, la dee dah. I snapped this photo on Thursday, looking toward the sun at my red light, so grateful that it comes up like that and that I’m out there to see it. Ding, Ding, Ding, down the hill, around the corner, up, down, and around again, a quick fold and onto the shuttle, such a pleasant way to start the day. Soon I’ll write about something other than how good out feels to be riding, but for now this is all I’ve got, and thank goodness for that.