I rode all over town today, and a lot of it was in protected cycletracks. I rode down Fallsway to the gym in Harbor East, on the new Center Street cycletrack over to Mount Vernon for some errands, and the Maryland cycletrack home. I can’t believe the difference these tracks make for my safety. I know, drivers see them as the enemy, taking away their territory, causing traffic jams, all for “nobody,” because drivers by and large think nobody uses these lanes. In the past couple of weeks I’ve seen so many people using the cycletracks, on bikes, in wheelchairs, on scooters, on foot. I’m happy to be one of them.
On my way back home, I heard the tell tale sound of a chopper circling above. News or police? Police, of course. I snapped this picture at the corner of 24th and Maryland as I waited for the light to change. What happened, I wondered, but not enough to try and find out. That’s what happens, I think, when the sound becomes so normal. Police helicopters are all over our skies, and on more than one occasion, their bright beams have lit up my house at night. A city under siege, sometimes, is what it feels like. I have the immense privilege, though, to wonder and then keep on riding up my protected cycletrack, my safety feature. Too many people in this town don’t have safety features. It’s not fair.
This is not a significant insight, that people are living in entirely different realities even as we might walk the entirely same streets. It was thrown into relief for me, again, when I sat on a jury for a murder trial last week. The stories on the stand were harsh and terrible, the violence real, the trauma faced by children and young people profoundly disturbing. It was hard to sit through, and harder still to be faced with making a judgment, one I knew would be justice for no one. A man died. A community faces conditions of premature death, day in and day out. There was no justice in that deliberation room, and there’s no justice on these streets of Baltimore. And then I continued my ride home, grateful to be on my bicycle in a protected cycletrack. It’s complicated.