Thursday promised rain all day, but I had a Very Important Cryotherapy Appointment over in Canton at noon, and nope, not interested in the bus. If everything went exactly precisely as scheduled–something that has NEVER happened to me on the bus–it would take 52 minutes to get from my house there. I can do it in 30 on a bike and end up exactly where I need to be on my schedule. I’m so, so grateful I can ride a bike.
So I did, but I dug out my bright yellow rain cape to toss in my bag, just in case the rain turned from spitting to something more real, which it did, right as I made the left turn from Little Italy toward Fells Point. I pulled over under a building awning and put on the cape, thumbs through the thumb holes, and carried on my way. The rain poured buckets, and I had the nerves I get when it’s wet out. I can’t see as well, I can’t brake as well, and I know I can’t be as seen as well, so I made quick work of things and pulled up outside the office, a dripping wet mess.
20 minutes later I had been deep-chilled and sent back to the bike under gray but dry skies. It’s always about timing. I kept the rain cape on for fashion and headed back east and north to meet N. for lunch and a meeting about our book project. I wasn’t sure just how to best get to Mount Vernon, because the middle of the city is a bit of a mess if you’re looking for the safest way to travel by bike. I ended up taking Fallsway and a rare left before the cycletrack. I followed the green paint of a proposed bike lane, but it dead ended into a parked car. Oh well. I took the lane and dodged cars until I made another left onto the Maryland Avenue cycletrack.
I cannot begin to express what a difference protected bike infrastructure makes, both for bicyclists and drivers. I can exhale a bit from the nerves of being followed, drivers know where to look for me, and everything just makes more sense. I thought about this as I took the cycletrack back north to home, gratefully in the track for most of the way. I snapped this picture looking out over the cars. In the distance is a sign reminding drivers to give me three feet when passing. Do any of us know what three feet looks like? I often get passed so closely I can feel the heat of the car, so I know that’s not three feet, but I also don’t know how I’d get those drivers a ticket for it. We can send those messages all we want, but it’s the infrastructure and design changes that will make the real difference.
And I thought about what a difference that difference makes as I rode the cycletrack looking for the memorial ride for Jeremy Pope. I never found it, but the ladyfriend and I met up with the crowd for the candlelight vigil. So many people, so many tears, tears that will flow forever. The grief is so deep I can barely peek at it. It is worth it to make the changes in our infrastructure and in our habits to save the many lives lost to cars.