When you ride a bicycle or walk you have to pay really close attention to the surfaces you are traveling on, especially in places like Baltimore where the infrastructure is aging and, in many places, in serious disrepair. When you’re driving you have to do this too–you don’t want to break an axle or whatever dropping into a giant pothole–but cars can handle a lot more than bike wheels and feet. I know my regular surfaces really well–the sinking manhole cover just across 25th Street, the ever-present piles of horse shit on that one curve of Fallsway cycletrack, the rough asphalt where they buzzed out some paint lines on Biddle just west of Broadway.
I’m not usually walking my bike on the sidewalk, but on Monday’s ride home I was, along 24th between Maryland and Charles so I wouldn’t be riding the wrong way down the street to the Safeway on 25th & Charles. And then there’s this big gap in the sidewalk leading to a skinny li’l alley and I wondered what I would do if I were in a wheelchair that couldn’t just roll over that, or if I weren’t paying attention and twisted an ankle in there. Who thought this was a good way to fix up the sidewalk? It’s just one step on one sidewalk in a city with thousands of miles of sidewalks, so many so difficult to traverse. Each property owner is responsible for the sidewalk in front of their property, and that clearly doesn’t work to keep this very-much-NOT-private-but-public-resource usable for all of us. I wish we’d spend more of our collective wages–taxes–to keep sidewalks in shape and safe for all users.
And that was my thought on Tuesday’s ride home. Today’s ride was a reminder that dressing for the weather you want instead of the weather you have can leave you with very cold hands on early February mornings (I left my gloves at home). It’s still so chilly out, but I swear spring is in the air, and I’m ready for longer bike rides to nowhere in particular.