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.
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
I had a ticket to the Sugarloaf Crafts Fair and decided to use it on Sunday. That’s my Day of Rest, so I didn’t feel like riding all the way out there, opting instead to take the bike on the light rail for a little weekend multimodal commuting. It was easy peasy, a station less than a mile from my house, six or so stops to a station less than a mile from the fairgrounds. There were no bike racks, but I still got to park right in front for a whirl through aisle after aisle of jewelry, wooden spoons, metal art, and homemade drink mixes that will turn that bottle of wine into a refreshing summertime slushie. I made a stop on my way out for a drink and some tater tots at the local sports-watching establishment to round out my day in Timonium, and then I headed back to the light rail station. And then a guy let me know the trains weren’t stopping at that station for some reason, I’m guessing so they could get down to Camden Yards to collect the disappointed fans from the O’s game I’d just finished watching at the bar. Sigh. Continue reading
Thursday’s ride was a repeat of Wednesday’s, but with an earlier start for a stop at the mechanic’s to move my car from the lot to the street to wait for its final ride over the Rainbow Bridge. It was freezing, and the guy said I must be “Ravens Strong” to ride my bike this morning. Well, sir, you just might be right. Now, if you were actually me, standing there wearing twelve layers of everything and knowing the sweat was going to start about 5 minutes into this little project, you might not be impressed, but hey, I’ll take it. The rest of the commute went smoothly, and the bike got me some good conversation with some MARC workers on the way home. The pedal up the hill from the station was a slow one, especially as I navigated the thick sand-like piles of salt at Charles and North. (Go on, go bike through sand. It’s a slow and wobbly go!) A water main burst the previous night, and that is not the first one, not by a long shot. We travel these streets without thinking about what’s underneath, but what’s underneath is clearly in a whole lot of trouble. But hey, they’d fixed it by mid-afternoon and covered it over with a big black rectangle of asphalt, so I guess we are good to go. I kept riding and stopped to take this picture at Charles and 25th, another patch job over another broken something. This project’s been going on for awhile, and I’m not sure what’s going on, but it is another of the many signs around here that what we don’t see beneath our feet is in serious trouble. The complaints are always about traffic, not about our crumbling infrastrucre, for which traffic is barely even canary yellow, much less the canary coal mine. And then I was home, stowing Brompty in the basement, kicking off my shoes and filling my water bottle from the tap and settling in to forget it all with some low quality television. Nothing to see here, folks, nothing to see here.
Tonight’s ride took me just down the hill to meet a couple of students for dinner and a chat about this and that. I rode with the rush hour traffic, which meant I easily beat the cars and easily found a parking spot. After dinner I walked a bit, talking to E. on the phone about, and stopped on the bridge over the JFX on Calvert. I rarely take this road, preferring the bike facilities a block east on Guilford, but today I walked across, which meant I could stop and snap this picture through the almost-transparent wall behind the metal railings on every third or so segment of the bridge. Sometimes you have to get off the bike and look down, but it was good to get back on and steady-pedal home.
It was practically springtime in New York today, I swear, and lucky me had the day free and my sweet little bicycle to ride about town. I carried the Brompton down four flights, unfolded it, and 15 quick minutes later I was eating chewy yeasted donuts with E. and comparing notes on bikes, gentrification, and reality television. I let her take Brompty for a quick spin and then I headed toward the Manhattan Bridge-the Brooklyn’s too busy, and I love the separation of bikes and peds on that thing. I pedaled my way up the hill of the bridge and felt simply joyous. I know, cheesy, right? But that’s how it feels to zip along in the sky, looking over the pure density of this place. And then I was unceremoniously dumped into Chinatown. Fellow bikers were zipping by me to run the red lights, cars were pulling into the bike lane and unceremoniously throwing open doors, and pedestrians were running willy-nilly into the streets–oh, city noise! Get me back on the bridge, back to safety! I negotiated the buzz, enjoyed a lovely afternoon with J., swapping reading lists and stories about local politics in a variety of locals, and then it was back on the bike and following the signs to the Willaimsburg Bridge. This one is also divided for cyclists and pedestrians on our own level above the cars and subways, and oh my, it is such a treat. Please make all bridges double decker thank you very much. I let the bike lanes take me home, a lovely end to a lovely weekend of biking around NYC.
Thursday night’s ride was brief–down the hill, a lovely dinner with a new friend, and a slow walk up the hill, because sometimes I feel like walking, especially when my legs are feeling a little heavy and I’ve got some thinking to do. The night was cool, but that kind of cool that suggests tomorrow might be a little bit warm because spring is on the way. On the walk back I snapped this picture of an overturned mailbox with a safety cone on top it. What’s being kept safe is a bit unclear, but I’m safety girl, so I suppose I appreciate the warning. I saw this alert earlier in the day from my car window, and it reminded me of New Orleans and the way folks would alert their neighbors about potholes by putting a stool, halogen lamp, wicker chair, or some other tall household item in them. By NOLA standards this safety cone business is downright official.
It’s Christmas Eve and S. was taking me to Damascus-the Maryland one-so I headed out on my bike for an early ride. I bundled up because it is finally getting cold here and zipped down the hill. Folks were lined up under the JFX to collect holiday packages and again at the park on Baltimore, lined up for food. I continued my ride, locked up the bike, went for a swim, and then headed back up toward home. I snapped this picture while waiting at a red light. Cars, taxis, buses, and me on my bike, all of us depending on the rest of us to follow the rules, which we mostly do. I stopped to chat with E. and walked my bike for a bit, past the folks lining up on the walkway at Health Services for the Homeless. A man stopped to chat with me about the importance of bike safety, wearing my helmet, paying attention, and all that jazz. Always, I said. And then I got on my bike, headed up Fallsway, and narrowly avoided being hit by a driver who raced through the crosswalk at an intersection on her way to make a right. Yep, stay attentive at all times, and drivers, please take your time; that could have made a really terrible holiday for all of us. I made it home safely, happy to have gotten in some exercise. Before I left my house I’d read an article about how children are getting iPads for Christmas instead of toys, an it’s a terrible thing. From what I saw on my ride today, that’s not all children, and I’m thinking we’ve got bigger problems than that.
Monday was unseasonably warm, but I had to spend most of it inside offices and classrooms. And then I didn’t, so I rushed home, changed into short pants, a tank top, and a sweatshirt, and hopped on the bike down the hill to enjoy the waning moments of light on a premature spring day. (Something’s not right here, but I will let the climate bloggers worry about that.) What did I see? I saw a burning red disk of a sun sinking into the western skyline, kids in short sleeves throwing balls around an alleyway, a just-dead squirrel I had to go around, folks waiting too long at bus stops, three buses in a row going the other way, and cars. So many cars pulling out of parking lots and turning corners and waiting in lines to get on the JFX. They were all trying to get out while I was trying to get in, but even if that hadn’t been the case I could have zipped ahed of them at all the lights. Total gridlock downtown and it wasn’t even 5 o’clock yet! There has to be another way. I did my turn at the gym and the grocery and headed back up the hill and to Hampden where folks are in their cars again, touring 34th Street’s holiday lights. Me, I will take the bike every time, especially in such nutty weather.