Monday’s ride took me down the hill–big surprise–and around the Inner Harbor, where I got to use the best of my outside voice to remind pedestrians and Segway drivers (riders?) to Share the Path. I complain a lot about the lack of easy bicycling around the harbor, but I recently tried walking it. The pedestrians are right–the shared path is the only good way around the construction in front of the World Trade Center, and once on a path, hardly anybody gets off it to follow a different one, even once the obstacles are gone. An easy pedal up to Federal Hill for some work with the co-workers, and then I headed home, same outside-voice around the harbor, a left on President to enjoy the worst bike lane in the city on my way to the best one–the Fallsway cycletrack. I ride this thing all the time, and I love it. I feel safe in it, even though I have to remain alert to all you right-turners in cars who pull through the crosswalks and intersections, sure nobody’s walking or biking here. The uphill across Monument takes me right between the JFX on the left and one part of the city’s massive downtown carceral complex on the right. This prison is hypervisible, a behemoth that is clearly meant to cage people–look at those tiny “windows”–but the people inside are rendered invisible–look at those tiny “windows.” On this day I stopped and got off the bike to look up, to wave, to see if I could see the people there. I couldn’t, and that’s the point, I think, not only to keep those inside from seeing out, but those outside from seeing in, permanent barriers as if we aren’t all in this together, aren’t all touched by logic that says this is how we deal with social problems–putting individual people in cages. Sometimes I just zip up the bike lane and can forget what is happening inside there, a good reminder to myself about how quickly the gruesome can become normalized. On Monday I got off my bike and looked and listened. I heard a steady tap tap tap, saw the glint of something in the second window in the second row on the right, and waved, not sure if we were seeing and hearing each other or not. And then it was time to get back on the bike and head home, a quick detour around the blocks at East Chase, and then home again. I’m glad my bicycle consistently reminds me to look up and out, because it is far too easy to just look down, especially when locked in a metal box on wheels that speeds you by so fast you barely have time to look.
I am so glad you see such commonality with our caged brothers and sisters. You reinforce and inspire me.