Tuesday opened to frozen roads and school delays due to an overnight snow shower, but that didn’t mean I didn’t have to head into work for meetings and lunches and meetings and such. And there’s no car anymore. I bundled up in two of everything–socks, pants, baselayers, gloves–and headed down the hill on the Brompton. It wasn’t the cold that got me as much as the ice in the bike lane, so I took the lane next to it, bought a stack of tickets, folded up the bike, answered work emails for 15 minutes, unfolded the bike, and climbed the hill to campus. There was no road rage, no parking, and I was reminded again of how that driving habit had gotten to be a habit, and now this will be a new habit. I made my meetings, did some work, and then reversed course, snapping this picture while I waited for the train. The sky just never looks this blue in a car. Thanks for dying, sweet old Hyundai Accent. You’re making the bike feel brand new.
It was a balmy winter day in Baltimore on Monday–almost 40 degrees–and Tuesday promised another cool down, so I had to get in a rare ride. I know, I know, I could ride on the freezing icy snow days–let a little air out of bigger tires, wrap my feet in plastic bags, take all the lanes. I see my downstairs neighbor Z. riding up to our door from his daily commute downtown, so I know it can be done, but I’ve decided to walk/catch a ride/take the train until the icy patches are gone and I can ride without my fingertips going numb. It’s a frustrating situation, though, so we’ll see how much longer it can last. Continue reading
It was unseasonably warm on Monday, and I had meetings to make in Waverly and Roland Park and no car, so after airing up the Surly’s tires, I headed out to enjoy the getting-from-place-to-place of a busy day. The ride between Waverly and Roland Park was a bit of a haul up a hill, so I put myself in an easy gear and kept my eyes from looking too far ahead. I hit the bike lane on University Parkway, passed the ghost bike that serves as a sad reminder that the bike lane can’t guarantee safety, and then spun past mansions of ever-increasing grandeur, so different from the places in Waverly and West Baltimore. The bike lane was filled with debris from road construction and house renovation, which I guess is better than all the cars that use the bike lane to corner tighter while winding their way up. And then I took my right and locked up my bike to a street sign, and snapped this picture of water running between an office building and the mall I never noticed, in an entire year of driving over here. And again I was reminded that biking gets you out of your head, out of talk radio or music, and back in the world, wondering how they covered up all of this water, and why. And then it was an easy ride home, flying down the hill with only a brief stop to check out the statue outside the LaCrosse Hall of Fame. Thank you, Indigenous People of America, for your sport, Love Laxbros of Johns Hopkins. The only reason I was taking the car is because I was used to taking the car. Thanks, universe, for the reminder to just ride my bike.
My car’s on the fritz, and it looks serious, so it’s time to get back to living a car-free life, a prospect considerably eased by the fact that N. has a car. Even so, I’m going to be on my own for commutes to school, and Thursday was the first of many. Brompty and I rode down to Penn Station, got our MARC tickets, and hopped on for a quick two-stop ride to Halethorpe for the couple-mile ride to campus. First stop was a place called South Campus where I’ve never been, and a quick mapquest put me on something called Rolling Road, not a good sign for the limited gears of Brompty. It wasn’t the easiest push, even in the granniest of gears, but I made it without walking the bike and early for my meeting, energized by the stretch and the sense of badassery you get when you take a route that on first glance isn’t the best for bikes–yeah, I’m easily pleased. And then it was another couple miles back to the main campus, made easy by the downhill I’d already earned. The curvy roads made for limited visibility, so I took the sidewalk for a bit, ordinarily a move against my religion. And sometimes you get this, a sidewalk basically blocked for anyone in a wheelchair or who needs the room. That built environment determines who can be there, and on this ride, it seemed. Pretty clear the place is for cars only. Unless, or course, you just take the lane, which I gladly did, happy to be out in the chilly sunshine under blue skies, grateful for bikes and trains, imperfect as they are, and new car-free adventures, whether the transmission gets fixed or not.
Finally, a dry day without ice on the roads, plenty of sunshine, nowhere to be, and no cold or flu dogging me! Oh, it was good to be back on the bike. It took about two minutes flying down the hill on Maryland Avenue to get that smile on my face I get when I feel at home and most myself–when I’m on my bike headed nowhere in particular. After a brief stop to pick up this week’s coffee I decided to go left instead of right and was quickly tracing new streets in West Baltimore. Continue reading
I know, I know, I could let some air out of my tires, get snow tires, ride slowly, and do fine on roads with some ice and snow remaining on them, but I could also just not ride the few days a year when there’s ice on the roads in Baltimore. Yeah, that’ll work, but I’m still not going to drive if I can help it, so I layered up and walked up and over to Waverly to meet O. and R. on Saturday. Yeah, I might rethink that decision next time, because the streets, especially the better-travelled ones, were mostly clear–wet, but not icy. The sidewalks, on the other hand, were treacherous ice sheets, glistening their evil eyes up at me as I made my way slowly and carefully, making sure of each footing before lifting another foot. The sidewalks were iced over because unlike the public property of the streets, sidewalks are the responsibility of individual homeowners, and apparently either individual homeowners don’t know that, or don’t care. The sidewalk in front of my house was iced up because I guess I was waiting for the landlord to deal with it. By the time I slid my way home that evening, though, I realized I had better remove enough ice for folks to pass easily. I chipped away, slowly but surely, and this morning it is starting to melt enough to make way. As I was chipping away, though, I wondered why we have individualized this particular collective infrastructral issue and not decided instead to spend our social wage to make easy passage for everyone, not just drivers. Because walking was truly dangerous yesterday, and how can it be that we make passage so dangerous, especially for those for whom walking is challenging in the first place? But hey, at least the roads are clear.