I took my bicycle to DC last weekend. I used public transportation to get there and back, and while riding around DC, I ate lunch at a restaurant, sitting outside, pulling my mask down just for bites. It felt like being a tourist at the end of the world. The place was empty, except for the gloriously alive Black Lives Matter Plaza by the White House and the streams of local runners making their pretty much everywhere. I don’t know how they do it in the middle of the day, but there you go.Continue reading
Tuesday was one of those surprisingly packed-with-work days that reminds me that a lot of academics don’t get “summers off,” as much as I wish it were so. The highlight, though, was guest teaching a class for a friend of mine about Baltimore history. I did a broad-sweeping story, all of it geared to understanding how this city, street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood, is constructed on a miles-deep firmament of white supremacy.Continue reading
I was getting ready to ride my bike down to War Memorial Plaza to join Friday’s protest when my neighbor J. texted me. “You’re not going to the protest, are you?” Actually I was, and though I tend to travel solo, I was happy to have company for the ride downtown. I met him on my bike just up from the alley, and he stayed at least six feet behind me as we rolled down the hill.Continue reading
Monday was one of those days where I worked all day but didn’t get anything substantive done. It’s amazing what bureaucracy will have you thinking is labor, but I digress. At the end of it I didn’t really have the energy for a bike ride, but I knew I’d feel better after a ride, and I was right.Continue reading
Here we are, another week into quarantine. I regularly ask my students in our online course meetings if things are getting harder or easier. A. said a few weeks ago that things are mostly just getting weirder, and I totally agree with her. I remain in total disbelief that this is happening.Continue reading
The heat wave broke with a beautiful overcast day on Tuesday, and I was lucky enough to have places to be on my bike and the energy to ride. My first stop was at the dentist for a six month cleaning and check up. I am lucky enough to have dental insurance, even though it mostly covers nothing but these check ups, so I get them on the clock–I’m not one to leave money on the table. I missed one cleaning, during chemotherapy, because the Internet suggested I avoid it due to risk of infection. I told my oncologist this at the end of treatment, and he was like, yeah, ok, you didn’t really need to do that. When you live in the online support group world where everyone posts their nightmares, it’s easy to get swept up in it. But whatever–I’m back to the dentist, happily letting the father-daughter team at Dr. Shelton’s office have their way with my mouth. It’s a gift to get this care in a world where we’ve somehow decided eyes, mouths, and spirits aren’t work the same level of care as the rest of us.
That ride took me through Waverly and out Ellerslie to 33rd, anything to avoid a few blocks on 33rd. And then I took the lane and pedaled as fast as I could as cars whizzed by me, because two lanes headed in one direction with a median is a freeway to drivers. I pulled up on the sidewalk at The Alameda, locked up, and went in for what would be almost an hour’s wait. It’s so expensive in so many ways to access health care, and I’m intimately aware of the layers of luck that let me do that.
I left with clean teeth and a trip south and west again to the gym. I took The Alameda (I love the “The” part) to Saint Lo Drive through Clifton Park, a route I haven’t taken in a long time. The park is beautiful, though the asphalt isn’t. The rumblebumble strips to slow cars are great for slowing cars, I hope, but on a bike, it’s not awesome. I popped out at Sinclair, took a right, and a left on Wolfe and took that all the way south.
That single street ride, just two miles of it, is a tour of uneven development and displacement, and the racialized nature of those things. I snapped this picture at Chase Street, at the entrance to Eager Park, part of the new neighborhood, Eager Park. This was called Middle East when I moved to Baltimore not even ten years ago, but it’s been rebranded by the Hopkins development. Neighborhood names in Baltimore are largely real estate marketing tools, so it’s no surprise they’re at it again.
From the angle of this picture it’s a brand new shiny park, the green just coming in and promising much more as the years allow for new growth.
And then I continued my ride through Hopkins, across Orleans, and down through Upper Fells and Fells and west to Harbor East, entirely different worlds, all Baltimore City. It was a good day for a ride.
Monday was supposed to be the day the heat wave broke, but I think 95 degrees is still pretty hot. I’ll ride a bike in it, because it’s still cooler to ride a bike than stand at a bus stop waiting for the bus, but I’d rather not. So it was a quick one–just down the hill to the gym for a workout in air conditioning, and then back up the hill to home. My report–it’s still hot out there, and I’d still rather be on my bicycle than almost anywhere else.
It’s July, and there’s a heat wave, so honestly what I’m seeing on my bike rides this week is my own sweat in my eyeballs. It’s brutal, especially going uphill. I’d still rather ride my bike than bake at the bus stop, waiting for another bus that’s going to get trapped in the traffic nightmare that is a sinkhole at Howard and Pratt and street closures for Artscape. Seriously, a bicycle is always the best way to get around.
I had a surprise day out of the office on Wednesday, and oh, what a treat! It was a beautiful day–sunny, cooling breeze, like spring–once these clouds burned off. I spent my free day riding my bike around, first to a new gym for a free trial. If you know me in real life you know that I already belong to all the gyms, but hey, why not try out one with towel service that’s along a bike lane?
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.