I haven’t been riding my bicycle much for the past two weeks, partly due to being out of town and partly due to having sole possession of a car for a whole entire week. I learned a lot that week–namely that you can go much farther much faster in a car, and it’s amazing how quickly I’ll take the easy way out, even if that means paying a few bucks for parking. Good thing I mostly don’t have a car, because I’d rather ride a bike, even if I forgot that for a few days.
I’m back in town between family visits for a just 48 hours, and I spent part of them today heading over to check out the Big Jump, the protected bike lane they just put in connecting the west side of Druid Hill Park to Remington, by way of Druid Park Lake Drive and 28th Street. My impression of it from the passionate social media debates about it were that it was a magical connection between east and west Baltimore, connecting folks on the west side to the capital corridors of the white L; the cause of tragic traffic jams, trapping drivers in a single lane on what should rightly be an in-town freeway, let the bicyclists take the long way through the park; and a sign that The Gentrifiers are starting their march into West Baltimore, a march always led by the white hipster bicyclist in search of fancy coffee and new modes of displacement.
As always, what you’re looking for shapes what you see. I’m looking for safer ways to cross from central to west Baltimore. I83 and MLK cut the city in half, and getting safely west without a car has been a frustrating challenge for me since I moved to Baltimore. I can do it, but it usually involved a detour down to Mount Vernon, west through Bolton Hill, and then north again, or a ride through the park, which I enjoy, but if I’m trying to get somewhere fast, it’s not my favorite. This lane opens up a safe and easy route, and today it felt like magic to me.
I snapped this picture on my way back from a lane that, like many lanes, ends too soon for my taste. This is just a start, though, and I’m excited for it. I stopped here at Linwood because I’ve been passing this corner for years. I remember when there was crumbling building here, and when it was demolished, and when they put up the fence, and the stages of overgrowth, and today there’s a protected bike lane in front of it. Is this gentrification? But doesn’t every neighborhood deserve safe ways to get around on foot, by bicycle, by wheelchair? It’s a two-way bike lane–who is supposed to be shuttling where? How do we learn from the histories of displacement and dispossession and move forward, making transit options available for more people in more neighborhoods, but not as a precursor to pushing people out again?
And then I continued my ride into Remington, down to Safeway for a few groceries, and back home for the first of two homecooking nights before I head out of town without my bicycle. It was good to be back on my bike again.
Very interesting. Here, the Bike Friendly groups spend a lot of time trying to educate the city governments that the important thing now is not to simply increase the miles of bike lanes and trails, but to eliminate choke points – caused by highways, rivers, and railroads. It takes a lot of work to get the powers that be to realize that cycling is more than exercise in the evening – it is a valid transportation option.
Thanks for sharing.