Today’s ride took me down the hill to work, as per usual, and then back up the hill to home. I took this picture of signs outside the University of Maryland parking garage at Eutaw and West Fayette. No Trespassing Violator Prosecuted, but also, bicycle air is in there. I had a couple of thoughts: first, what a great thing to know, that there’s air here, in case I ever need some. Continue reading
Monday found me back on my bike after a long, restful Thanksgiving break. For four days I didn’t get on my bike or in a car, relying on my feets to move me from my couch to the movies to lunch out and about. It is rare for me to take that many days off the bike, and getting back on was like getting back to myself. I sped down the hill and up the hill, a right and a left and a right and a left, and I was on my way to work again. Continue reading
I spent the week riding my bike mostly to and from work, getting used to the cold weather. Turns out it’s still not that cold, but if it’s early enough, I need my windproof gloves. And it gets dark early, so I’ve got to bring the ol’ blinky safety vest with me every morning. The ride to and from has gotten normal, the way commuting routes get normal. I’ve got my frustrations–that the lights in Waverly and Charles Village aren’t timed for my bike, the rutted asphalt of Maryland Avenue–and my favorites–catching the light at the bottom of the hill coming into Mount Vernon and the block between Howard and Eutaw on Monument that I only see because of this new commute. Continue reading
I haven’t been posting a whole lot lately, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been riding the bike. When it’s your means of transportation 95% of the time, you’re pretty much guaranteed a ride every day. That’s my favorite part of living car-free, and it’s working. Some highlights from the past week or so include finally getting a good ride up the Fallsway bike path again and wondering why people complain so much about being routed by the prison–at least you’re not in it, and why do we want to hide what we do to each other with all our cages? Oh, I think I know some answers to that one, and they aren’t pretty. Continue reading
Classes started last week, just as they have for the past ten years I’ve been teaching. There’s always something different–a new syllabus or classroom, a new office or a new class blog, and always there are new students, familiar but different, and each group has to find its own chemistry. Sometimes, though, a new semester means something earth-shatteringly new that makes everything different. Like this past week, when I got an email the day before the new semester began announcing a free shuttle service between downtown Baltimore and UMBC. Wow. This is a game-changer for so many of us–or at least enough of us to justify the expense and to make them keep the shuttle line. My excitement was not without some reservation. Continue reading
Friday’s ride took me out in impressive heat to tag along with E. and C. for a test ride of Baltimore Heritage and Bikemore’s new urban renewal history-by-bike tour. E. and C. are just my kind of nerds, proven again as we all donned our helmets and took the lane on a pedal from Mount Vernon Square down to Shot Tower, over through the squares of the business district, over to Lexington Market, and up to State Center at Eutaw and Lafayette where I got to learn more about the building that reduced me to tears trying to find a way in. I learned a ton, and you will too if youtake the ride on a hopefully cooler day in late August. A couple of highlights for me: urban renewal projects often had their roots in much, much earlier urban planner fantasy worlds, but now federal funds were available to make them come true, which also helps explain some of the truly outsized results~see, for example, the ginormous main post office in what was to have been the Shot Tower industrial park. I also learned about Brutalist architecture, and what happens when money dries up before the building’s done~hint: now it really is just stacks of concrete. I took this picture at Mechanic Center, of the old Mechanic Theater that will soon be torn down. Rumor was Mr. Mechanic bought out all the old theaters and closed them to direct traffic to his place, but it wasn’t quite so planned as all that. When he couldn’t fit a helicopter on stage for Miss Saigon he had his own comeuppance, and the Hippodrome was born. Or something like that. His theater is on its way down to make room for another round of development as the city continues to try to figure out how to rebirth itself. Hopefully it will leave at least traces of its past, as in the last round that kept buildings like the ones in the background of this picture. The other thing I learned is something it’s hard not to know if you bike around this town and pay a teensy bit of attention. Urban renewal was also about renforcing and enabling even more impressive forms of racial segregation. I thought about that at our most bustling stop on the tour: the transit station at Howard & Lex. There are lots of calls to revitalize the Westside, but to these eyes it looks pretty vital, the street full of people, but maybe not the sort of people city planners want bustling around the city center. This stuff has long, old roots, and the drug war is an old, old alibi. I don’t think we’ll solve the heroin and cocaine problem in this city by building a Superblock over there. But I digress. It was a great tour that taught me whole bunch of new stuff I need to learn about. And old stuff, like bring a lot more water than you think you need on a day as hot as this one, and yes, sunscreen works.
Today’s bike ride took me down the hill to meet L. for breakfast in Fells Point and then some reading at the coffee shoppe. 10am is apparently very early for Baltimore City, because I just zoomed straight down the hill, passing just a couple of cars and a few people, but mostly I felt like the only person in town, and the street were mine. It was awesome. Afterward, I pedaled over to the Westside and past the busy crowds pouring out of Mariner Arena where the circus is in town~not my favorite event at all. I dodged pink-jacketed girls and sticky boys before taking a right on Lexington to the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center for my scheduled tour–nothing like a little civic history on a lazy Saturday afternoon. The Center is small right now, but the plans are big. There was a mix up, so the tour was self-guided. Folks lined up to read about Great Women of Maryland Science and Space and Education and Health Care, but I have to admit that I wasn’t much in the mood for individual success stories. There’s only so much recuperative history this cat can take, and secretly I want museums to raise questions rather than tell me these individual stories, though I know how important those are too. I left early, promising myselfto return, and got myself a front row seat for the roller ballet. Best laid plans indeed, but since all I really want to do is ride my bike around, I’d say it’s a win.