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.
Wednesday was another commute in a long week of commutes in crazy weather. I misread the reports and decked myself out for a monsoon, plastic pants and all. Yeah, I didn’t quite need those. The commute went off without incident, to and from, until I started up Charles from the station to home. Charles has been under construction for awhile now, inching closer and closer to North Avenue. This is a main drag of Baltimore’s White Stripe, and it was in terrible condition–time for a real fix, inconvenient and dusty as it might be. Continue reading
The rain stopped today, so I stayed dry on my ride up to Hampden to meet N. for beer, fried things, and some football. We got there early to grab seats, and we waited for the sports bar–a place covered in televisions and filled with purple jerseys–to turn up the sound. A guy asked if they’d turn on the sound, and the server asked, “Which game?” I think this might be a sports bar opened by hipsters who don’t actually watch sports, but once we were all sorted, we were set. Continue reading
I have had an incredibly long and busy week that has left me exhausted, so all I could muster on my Friday was a ride down to the library to picke up a couple of movies and a book before settling in at the coffee shoppe for some browsing and reading. I rode home up Calvert Street and stopped at Preston to snap a picture of the street signs for a friend whose brother’s name is Preston Calvert–awesome. I took this photo of the street there, because it reminded me of home, those New Orleans streets that are pocked up and showing their brick undergarments, loose gravel everywhere, this time from repaving. I can’t wait for this street to be all shiny new asphalt, like Guilford. I have been here for two months, and I’m already thinking a lot about street surfaces. Oh, and keep your eyes open for that surprisingly deep sinkhole on Maryland just, across North Avenue. Get to know your street surfaces! I pedaled slowly home, hoping to get some rest for an actual ride tomorrow.
So Baltimore’s got this thing coming up called the Grand Prix. They’re blocking off a bunch of streets downtown, the ramp onto 395, a light rail station, and effectively cutting off a main artery through town–all traffic will now go on MLK–and then some Indy cars will come race around the 2+ mile course while the rest of us just try to stay away, unless, of course, we can afford the $20-$895 tickets, plus $30 to park non-Indy cars. Continue reading
I ride my bike up and down St. Charles at least four times a week on my commute. I know that ride like I know how to make spicy black beans or how to catch beads at a Mardi Gras parade. I’m always happy to pass that one school on the right because that’s when the asphalt turns smooth. Until you cross Nashville (or is it Jefferson? I know the road surfaces, not their names.), where that pothole turns up. You’ve got to decide: are you going to roll over it? Pedal through? Jog out into the traffic lane a bit to stay on asphalt? But that has gotten harder since the left edge has been falling away. Some weeks ago somebody dumped some loose rocks in the deeper part of the hole to bring it up more even to the rest of the surface, but that just makes it more hazardous to cyclists. I stopped today on my zillionth ride over it to take a picture, and I noticed they’ve painted a square around it. Could that mean it will be fixed soon? I won’t hold my breath. When you ride a bike every day, this is the sort of stuff that lodges in your brain. Good thing I’ve got a thing for details.
You know I love riding my bike around New Orleans. It’s flat as a pancake here and the weather is always perfect for a ride, assuming you don’t mind thunderstorms and 100+ heat indices, which I don’t. But our streets are, in many places, spectacularly awful. We have some repaving projects, some even including facilities for bikes–Chartres, St. Claude, Gentilly, upper St. Charles, La Salle/Simon Bolivar, Loyola–but most streets are a mess of exposed streetcar tracks, potholes, loose gravel, ridges, and all various and sundry temporary patches. Continue reading