Waiting for the MARC Train at the Halethorpe Station

image

Tuesday opened to frozen roads and school delays due to an overnight snow shower, but that didn’t mean I didn’t have to head into work for meetings and lunches and meetings and such. And there’s no car anymore. I bundled up in two of everything–socks, pants, baselayers, gloves–and headed down the hill on the Brompton. It wasn’t the cold that got me as much as the ice in the bike lane, so I took the lane next to it, bought a stack of tickets, folded up the bike, answered work emails for 15 minutes, unfolded the bike, and climbed the hill to campus. There was no road rage, no parking, and I was reminded again of how that driving habit had gotten to be a habit, and now this will be a new habit. I made my meetings, did some work, and then reversed course, snapping this picture while I waited for the train. The sky just never looks this blue in a car. Thanks for dying, sweet old Hyundai Accent. You’re making the bike feel brand new.

Pole in the Sidewalk on Rolling Road & Sherbourne

image

My car’s on the fritz, and it looks serious, so it’s time to get back to living a car-free life, a prospect considerably eased by the fact that N. has a car. Even so, I’m going to be on my own for commutes to school, and Thursday was the first of many. Brompty and I rode down to Penn Station, got our MARC tickets, and hopped on for a quick two-stop ride to Halethorpe for the couple-mile ride to campus. First stop was a place called South Campus where I’ve never been, and a quick mapquest put me on something called Rolling Road, not a good sign for the limited gears of Brompty. It wasn’t the easiest push, even in the granniest of gears, but I made it without walking the bike and early for my meeting, energized by the stretch and the sense of badassery you get when you take a route that on first glance isn’t the best for bikes–yeah, I’m easily pleased. And then it was another couple miles back to the main campus, made easy by the downhill I’d already earned. The curvy roads made for limited visibility, so I took the sidewalk for a bit, ordinarily a move against my religion. And sometimes you get this, a sidewalk basically blocked for anyone in a wheelchair or who needs the room. That built environment determines who can be there, and on this ride, it seemed. Pretty clear the place is for cars only. Unless, or course, you just take the lane, which I gladly did, happy to be out in the chilly sunshine under blue skies, grateful for bikes and trains, imperfect as they are, and new car-free adventures, whether the transmission gets fixed or not.

View From a Footbridge Near Ashbourne & June in Arbutus

View From a Footbridge Near Ashbourne & June in ArbutusI had to come into campus for a full day of meetings and things today–a total bummer given that the sun was going to come out after several days of rain and I was feeling a bicycle ride. Solution: multimodal commute with the Brompty, and that’s what I did, flying down the hill to catch the 9:25 train to the Halethorpe station, not even 3 miles from campus. Continue reading

Flowery Trees at Oregon & Link in Arbutus

Flowery Trees at Oregon & LinkWednesday was meant to be a day with a real-ish bicycle ride, but I had to be on campus all day for an evening trip with S. to D.C. for a truly bizarre evening event. Solution: take Brompty in S.’s car for a ride between meetings! Well, best laid plans, right? A meeting turned into another meeting and then I only had two hours to ride and then we got stuck in the elevator on the way downstairs. Continue reading

Christmas Decorations at a House on Poplar & Highview in Arbutus

Christmas Decorations in a Yard on Poplar & Highview in Arbutus Day two of the multimodal commute was so much easier than day one–isn’t that always the way? I loaded up my bag with work stuff, lugged Brompty downstairs, unfolded it in a jiff, and zipped down the hill. It was the kind of cold that makes your eyes blur dangerously. Oh, wintertime. The conductor from yesterday’s train recognized me and pointed me to a train car that would open at the Halethorpe station, and when it did it was just a quick unfold and pedal up the hill and down and up again to campus. Continue reading

View of the Halethorpe Train Station From the Francis Avenue Overpass

It was a crazy beautiful day today, so you can imagine how I felt about being in my office all day and into the evening with meetings, interviews, and student events instead of out pedaling around on my bicycle. I had a gap in my schedule between 5:30 and 7:00, so brainstorm! I brought my bike with me so I could sneak in a ride. I finally got out of the office closer to six, but there was still plenty of time to do a test ride from campus to the MARC train station in Halethorpe, a mere 2.2 miles, in preparation for the multi-modal commute the clown bicycle will enable. (Yes, that’s my one track mind you see running its paces.) Continue reading

Crumbling House on a West Baltimore Corner

It was another beautiful late winter day in Baltimore, sun shining and just a little bit warm, so I treated myself to a bike ride to campus. I had plenty of time, so after wooshing down the hill and taking a right and then a left through Bolton Hill, I followed some new streets through West Baltimore as I vaguely angled toward Arbutus. I was stopped at the light at Lafayette and Argyle, I think, and watched a little police profiling go down. Continue reading

Empty Lot and Row House at Lafayette & Fremont

We had another unseasonably warm day today, at least in my estimation, so after a busy morning, I hopped on my bike and headed to campus to take advantage of what they keep telling me is one of the last few warm days before winter really gets here. I flew down the hill and then made the Park Avenue climb to Lafayette and took my left. It’s amazing how quickly the neighborhoods change along this street. Once you cross Eutaw Place, for example, it’s like you’ve entered a different universe. On the ride back I was struck by how once I left Marble Hill for Bolton Hill, the asphalt turned that smooth black of brand new road. When Crossing Pennsylvania Avenue into West Baltimore is even more pronounced. All of a sudden the trees disappear, as does the stately red brick, replaced by row after row of abandoned row house. I snapped this picture of a row house at Lafayette and Fremont (which is not the same as Fulton–I made that mistake once, and it took me a looong time to correct it). This empty side suggests another row house used to be cuddled up next to it, those patches maybe marking windows, or just the shared walls. Off in the distance more and more of these vacants line up, but some of them are redone and occupied. How hard it must be to share the neighborhood with these, and the empty lots filled with crumbled buildings and trash that dot the neighborhood. So often when I’m riding around Baltimore I wonder, where did everybody go? I know, I know, the suburbs, but where did everybody go, and what are we going to do with all these empty and decaying blighted properties? I continued my ride, and when I got to Arbutus, just a couple miles further, I was reminded again of how many different cities are all butted up against each other in this place, some of them just ghosts.

Blighted Factory at Hollins & Warwick

A couple of cold days in a row made today’s 38 degrees and sunshine feel downright balmy. After finishing up a little of this and that at home, I layered up and hopped on the bike to head to campus. It was so warm I didn’t even need my fancy pants gloves! I flew down the hill on Maryland, went around that growing sinkhole just on the other side of North Avenue (can we at least spray paint around the thing?), and then up through Bolton Hill and Marble Hill. Continue reading

Salon Nine-E at Beechfield, West, & Ridge in Arbutus

Yep, I’m back at school again, this time teaching a three and a half week winter session course. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I’d rather be lazily reading, writing, and bicycling instead. Due to this resistant attitude, I spent my morning getting a massage and then stopping by a music store with S., who needed to do little to get me to shell out for a ukelele. Yeah, it’s time to pick up a new hobby, and besides, a ukelele is small. I could take it camping on my bicycle. But alas, it was finally time to get myself to school, and S. kindly dropped me and my bicycle there. And guess what? Continue reading