Bikes and Toys in the Yard at the Corner of Birch & Highview

Bikes and Toys in the Yard at the Corner of Birch & HighviewThursday’s commute was another chilly one, and slow, because sometimes it is all just that exhausting. I flew down the hill, folded my bike and myself into the train, and folded us out for a trudge up the hill, everything feeling a little too heavy. A meeting, a couple of classes, another meeting, some writing, and the weight was lifted by the promise of a free evening–the sort of free that feels extra special because you’ve knocked so many things off the to-do list, and everything else can wait, really. Continue reading

Reindeer and Safety Cone on a Lawn on Poplar & Sycamore in Arbutus

Reindeer and Safety Cone on a Lawn on Poplar & Sycamore in ArbutusTuesday’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

Road Work at 25th & Charles

Road Work at 25th & CharlesThursday’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.

Waiting for the MARC Train at the Halethorpe Station

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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

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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 Down the Northbound Railroad Tracks at the Halethorpe MARC Station

View Down the Northbound Railroad Tracks at the Halethorpe MARC StationIt’s the new year and I’m back from one final vacation trip–an overnight with S. at the beach. Oh, it was just a perfect mini vacation! But today it’s time to get back to work, so I woke up early, did some reading, packed my lunch, and headed to work, taking my Brompty to the train station. Yep, the car’s still sitting at the mechanic’s in Virginia, so its the multimodal commute for me. It takes about six minutes to race down the hill to the station, and then just 14 or so minutes on the train, and then another 15 minutes on the bike to campus. Continue reading

Brompty Tucked Away on the MARC Train Between West Baltimore & Penn Station

My car is in the shop–yes, I own a car–getting itself fixed from the break-in it suffered in June. After months of driving around with tape for a back window and opening the driver’s side door through the passenger side, on Monday the door wouldn’t open at all, and it was finally time to face the price tag and get the thing fixed. All of that meant no car for the commute to work, so I got to give the multi-modal commute a try. Continue reading