Today’s ride took me down the hill via the Maryland Avenue cycletrack, a right on Lombard to the bike racks at Greene to pick up the shuttle to work. I take this ride all the time, and I know its asphalt really well. it took me a few years to figure out the phantom drop just before Saratoga, but I mostly know it all by heart now. I still keep my eyes down, though, because you never know. And today it was this sad dead rat, looking sleepy but most definitely dead, in the middle of the right lane around 24th Street. I went around it and kept on my way. I locked up my bike, headed to campus, worked and worked and worked, and then turned around, got on the shuttle, walked to my bike, and headed uphill.
It’s been a minute since I blogged, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been riding my bicycle. When it’s the way you get around, you always get to ride your bicycle. I’ve had some fun rides, but mostly it’s just me, pedaling to and from work, to and from the gym, to and from meeting friends here and there. It’s such a gift to be at ground level when getting around, instead of stuck inside a car, behind all the other cars. This is especially true on days like yesterday, when downtown Baltimore was in complete gridlock due to a suspicious vehicle leaking gasoline, and then yet another water main break. I took the shuttle into the city from work, hopped off at the second stop, and two blocks later was on my bike and heading home, able to walk and ride around the traffic. Suck it, cars!
I was on a beach vacation in Florida all last week, so no bike riding–just beach sitting and wave bobbing for me. It was a glorious treat, but I was happy to get back to Baltimore, too. I’ve ridden my bike every day this week, because that’s what I do when I’m going places, and it’s too hot to wait for the bus.
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.
Spring has sprung, which means more days of easy cycling, when choosing to travel by bicycle isn’t physically painful. The bike lanes are filling up with folks on bikes, walking, and on scooters, and I couldn’t be more pleased to have more how-you-doin’ friends. Ok, I might be getting a bit ahead of myself, but I like to write for the weather I want, not the weather I have. Spring’s around the corner, I swear.
What it already means for me is that I’m back to riding every day. Tuesday’s ride took me on the Maryland cycletrack down to the bus/bike lane on Lombard and over to the medical center to avail myself of their plentiful bike racks. I passed a terrible crash at Cathedral and Franklin. A sedan was crushed completely and leaking gas, and an SUV had been pushed onto the sidewalk and into a building, knocking old stones into the street. Traffic was snarled, not helped by the cop who pulled up and blocked Cathedral for all cars. I sneaked through on my bike, glad not to be tied up with a car. I hope everyone’s ok. They looked to be, but injuries can be slow to emerge.
My ride home took me the long way, up Pratt Street and over to Harbor East for a quick stop at the gym, and then back through downtown for the Baltimore Beat happy hour at Ida B.’s. It’s back! I snapped this photo looking down at Pratt Street at the red light on Paca. It’s amazing to me how quickly the skin peels off our streets, and how even when we see how differently things were done just a layer below, we still can’t imagine making radical changes on the layer above. The streets feel natural to us, but they were built–we see the building of them all over as they break down. We could build them differently–fewer lanes for cars, more for bicyclists, scooters, pedestrians. We’ve built before, and we can build again–just look under your feet.
And then the light turned green and I took the lane and pedaled away from work and toward the pleasures of the rest of my day. I’m happy to be on the bike everyday again.
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.
It was a cold and windy end of the week, but after spending two hours getting home by overcrowded and much-delayed buses on Wednesday, I took the bike Thursday and Friday. Thursday’s ride was a zippy one down the hill, no biggie, I thought. Yeah, the cold wind was straight in my face on the way home. Still better than waiting for the Red line.