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.
Tuesday’s ride took me over to Bolton Hill for a morning meeting, and with nothing on the calendar until an afternoon meeting downtown, I got to spend a couple of hours tooling around West Baltimore on my bicycle. I started by heading west on Mosher and decided I’d ride that street until it ended. But then I ran into a small park that I couldn’t bike through, so I went around on Mason Street, then McMechen, then back the other way on Eutaw and then zipped through an alley and over on Madison before going the wrong way down Mosher for a block (sorry, everybody) until I could head west on it again. Bolton Hill has itself blocked off from the rest of West Baltimore by some pretty heavy street-level infrastructure.
The weather was a trip yesterday, all gray skies and wind in between giant sunbeams and blue skies. The place cannot make up its mind, I swear. I stayed home early to catch up on work and work and more work before heading down the hill to an appointment. The skies looked ok, but the wind was whipping around more than I prefer when I’m making the weather choices. Afterward, I scarfed down a quick lunch and then grabbed the bike to head west and see how people are organizing spaces over there since the murder of Freddie Gray. Continue reading
Monday’s ride was far too short, the day given over to grading and emailing and fire-putting-out, but hey, at least I got out for a quick pedal around the neighborhood under our springtime skies. My first stop was across the border of 33rd Street for a surprise visit to R.’s place. I had a book to give her, but that was just a ruse because I wanted to see her face and watch her perfect grey cat slink through the spring flowers. Continue reading
Friday’s ride was a quick one, just over and up the hill for a follow up visit with the doctor. She was happy to see the tonsils had gone down, but sad to hear the relentless fatigue was still making me feel like a two mile bike ride required close-to-heroic effort. We could do the test for mono, she said, but no matter what it says, all we can do is treat the symptoms. Not one for tests for testing’s sake, I declined and headed out with orders to keep taking it easy, to finish off that course of antibiotics, and to fill one more prescription. Continue reading
Thursday’s ride took me down the hill and around the Inner Harbor and up and over through Federal Hill for a day with A. and her sweet baby girl. The wind was light, which meant an almost balmy day, and it put me in such a good mood. I followed the newly-striped bike lane down Guilford down to South Street. It’s all scraggly, running right alongside parked cars, jogging right and left as it passes through one intersection after another. It’s striped all the way to the Inner harbor, big NO PARKING signs lining the street across Lombard. On this day, the bike lane was filled with limousines transferring rich people to the Renaissance hotel, and I was like, seriously? Continue reading
Tuesday’s ride kept me mostly in the neighborhood, down the hill to meet K. for lunch and a good shared rant session, and then back up the hill to Abell to meet R. for some co-catsitting and a conversation about our Very Big Project that we both needed to break down to be a whole lot smaller so as to avoid that familiar “oh shit, it’s due” feeling. In between there I talked on the phone with J. about renting her house in Waverly starting in August. N. and I need a bigger place, and a friend of a friend heard this house would come open then, and you know how it goes. Our renting her house solves a whole bunch of problems for her and for us, so it looks like we’re moving up the hill come August, and I couldn’t be more excited. Continue reading
School’s basically out for summer, minus a whole lot of grading and the part where I start teaching summer school in less than two weeks, but hey, school’s out for summer! Woot! But first: Wednesday’s meeting. The thing didn’t start til 10, so that meant I had plenty of time to ride my bike down and up the hill to meet A. for a ride out to the suburbs. The ride’s always a bit slower during rush hour even though I’m not a car, probably because I’m one of those (mostly) rule following cyclists who stops at red lights and tends not to snake up the side of cars–pass me once, and you’re done. It was a bit slower, but I also just like feeling myself a part of the traffic flow, and oh, so much better than tin canning it by myself. Continue reading
Everything predicted thunderstorms Sunday, but Brompty and I had things to do, and I mistakenly believed my jacket was waterproof, so we headed out between downpours for a ride to Broadmoor to see M. and D.’s new digs, including–so awesome–the baby’s room. It was an easy ride, retracing old steps on new bike lanes. I remember when the very first bike lane was installed in the city, and now the are everywhere. And there’s a new streetcar line, though that one doesn’t make much sense until you remember the Super Bowl was here. Infrastructure’s improved for industry, not residents (and this certainly isn’t just a NOLA thing), and here the industry is tourism. And I’m a tourist now, enough to get lost crossing under the I10 and just avoiding a dead end to the freeway on ramp. I took the bike lane on MLK and smaked left on Galvez, happy to have friends who moved to a neighborhood I never got to explore much. I overshot my right, dead-ended and turned around, and finally got my muddy no-fenders self to their door for breakfast and catch-up. Afterward, and after another downpour, it was back on the bike to Mid City to see R. and her new digs.all the bike lanes and streetcars in the world can’t help with this coty’s lack of drainage, so it was all avoiding puddles and small lakes there and then after back to the Treme. I meant to head straight back to S.’s house, but then I saw the dogs, so many dogs lined up for Barkus, rolling late due to weather. I remember when this was an upstart, and it still is, I guess, even if Bud Light signs welcomed me to it. And you can’t just join the parade; I watched a volunteer close the gates of Louis Armstrong park on a rather stunned gentleman and his pocket pooch. You need a “marching pass” to join a walking parade? Wow. And then the skies opened up again–my luck had run out. 20 minutes standing in the rain and it was time to thow on the towel. I pedaled “home,” a soggy mess, happy to have seen some old friends–people, pets, and problems.
Tuesday’s ride started a little early so I could catch the 8:10am train to Halethorpe as I continue my burgeoning love affair with my new multimodal commute. I learned a couple of important lessons on that first 10 minutes flying down the hill, lessons I’ve learned before, if I’m being honest: wear wool socks, not flimsy cotton ones, and don’t forget a hat, even if you have to go back upstairs to get it; it’ll be worth it. And then I was standing next to my folded bike and reading when I saw R. Continue reading