Field Tripping: Bicycling – Baltimore City Paper

As I’m sure you’ve heard, City Paper is winding down after 40 years of weekly publication. It’s such a bummer in so many ways, a sign of times I don’t always like very much. On a personal note, it means just a couple more columns before I’m off field tripping in obscurity. As commenter once tweeted at me upon seeing another column, “Who cares what some dyke does with her time off?” Good question, sir, good question. City Paper or not, I can tell you right now: I’ll be on a field trip every day, on my bicycle.

Riding a bike means you start every day with a bike ride, breeze on your face, how-you-doings in your mouth as you greet your neighbors. I showed a new colleague how to commute down to our shuttle bus by bike, and he said it was like riding with Pee Wee Herman as I dinged my bell incessantly and yelled hellos to everyone I passed as we flew down the glorious Maryland Avenue cycletrack. DING-DING-DING LOOK AT ME I’M PART OF THE WORLLLLD! I would not trade that morning for sitting in my car honking impatiently for anything.

And if I’m being real, most of my field trips these days are the rides to and from work. I have a full time job, and getting to it takes at least an hour each day, so that’s mostly what I’m doing on my bike. It is almost always the best part of my day, but there are some things that make it terrible, and before I leave my regular writing gig here, I want to tell you about them.

First, the streets. Drivers know how terrible the asphalt is on some of Baltimore’s streets, but imagine riding it on two wheels, bump bump bumping into potholes, around storm grates designed to catch our wheels and toss us forward, and over the ripples left behind by trucks grinding their way on streets not designed for them. The safest spots for cyclists are often in the gutters, and that’s where all the trash is. It’s not a good feeling, psychologically, but more than that it’s a safety hazard.

Second, the pedestrians. I…

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