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 saw me back on the commute, riding down the hill and right and down and right and right again to the bike racks at the University of Maryland Medical Center. It’s all car dodging until the left onto Eutaw when I hit what my head calls “the ped zone.” The Westside is bustling at this time of the morning, and the pedestrians are the least predictable of us all. I respect the refusal to honor the supposed god-given rights of cars, even though it can be frustrating to have to dodge everybody when I have the right of way. And every morning I think to myself, can we stop pretending like this part of West Baltimore is dying on the vine. It’s the busiest part of the city bar the Inner Harbor, at least in my experience.
But anyway, I locked up my bike next the rack that has a lock locked onto it–is some bicyclist saving that rack with his lock, and why do I never lock up to that rack even though it’s public and you can’t “save” it–and got on the shuttle to campus for a long day of busywork until the shuttle ride back to the city. I had to pee the second I got off the shuttle, and since we’ve built a world in which even though we all have to pee, we can only pee if we’re in our own home, workplace, or in a place where we’ve purchased something, I popped into a coffee shop on Pratt Street, bought an 85 cent bag of cheese curls, and peed in their upstairs bathroom before walking back to my bike, stuffing said cheese curls in my mouth at a truly astonishing rate. I snapped this picture on my walk when I noticed the words “Indian Pavilion” running down what appears to be an empty building next to a parking lot. First thought: Worst Indian pavilion ever. Second thought: What’s an Indian pavilion, and why would there be one on Pratt Street? Turns out this used to be a restaurant, back in the 1990s. I’m not sure when it closed, or if it has been/is/will be something else, but it was a good reminder, again (Baltimore has no shortage of this particular reminder), how close busy and vibrant always is to the scars of failed capitalism. And then I licked the cheese dust off my fingers, got back on my bike, and rode up the hill to home.
Friday’s bike ride took me first to the train station and out to Catonsville on Brompty for a day at the office before swapping out for the Surly for a ride with N. down to Camden Yards to watch the O’s take on her beloved St. Louis Cardinals. It’s more than a little embarrassing to go to a game with your ladyfriend all decked out in enemy colors, but she donned an O’s wristband, so there was that. The ride down there was a bit slow–my left knee hurt on the inside and I was making the mistake of worrying how the ride back up the hill would feel instead of enjoying the ride down there. Staying present’s a tough job for this cat, but I’m working on it. Continue reading