Confessions of a Bike Bully
I have to admit, when I get on my bike I become a different person. Usually, the first thing I do is look for a half-ton pickup truck – you know the kind with dual smokestacks – and run it right into a ditch. Because those PU drivers are totally afraid of anything on two wheels. After that I go after the sports sedans. Then for a laugh I ride hard down a crowded sidewalk, just picking off old ladies.
OK, none of that is true, despite what Courtland Milloy would have you believe in, Bicyclist bullies try to rule the road in D.C. I ride in Baltimore, but still …
The City Paper and many others have responded to Milloy’s trolling, but all I’m going to say is, when I’m riding a bike, I know cars are fast and come from anywhere, and I know pedestrians are unpredictable, so I try to follow routes that avoid both as much as possible. I try to be courteous when I deal with them, but often nothing I do is good enough.
Yesterday I rode into town at 6 AM on my Greenspring-Jones Falls trail-Clipper Mill-Falls Road-Maryland Ave-Cathedral Ave route. It was uneventful. There are very few pedestrians out then. I avoid the first, winding part of the JF for Tamarind Road because it is wider and there are no walkers and few cars. On the JF past Cold Spring, sometimes I pass a fellow walking his dogs on long leashes. I give him a shout and he kindly moves them to the right. The fun part starts at Clipper Mill Road. There are only a few stop signs and little traffic so I can keep moving in large gears. Then I switch to the paved trail next to Falls Road. In the PM it can be busy busy, but at that hour there are usually only one or two joggers. Once on Maryland it is a matter of staying to the right of traffic. Some guys like to claim the lane. I consider them future organ donors.
Heading North to the JF involves lots of traffic lights on Park or Charles and no bike lanes, so coming home, I swing West to Eutaw past Lexington Market. There are always a hundred jaywalkers in those three blocks, but if you are patient with them, they usually give you a little wave. Yesterday I rode through Druid Hill Park and bought some blueberries at the Farmer’s Market. I used to climb the hills on Greenspring, but lately I’ve headed up Park Heights past Pimlico, then turned East on smaller roads to get home. I tried Pimlico Road itself once, but everyone walks in that road, and there are too many tiny children darting around.
Some folk can’t believe that I ride through “black” sections of Baltimore – which is about 2/3 African-American – but frankly I encounter more rudeness and hostility from drivers and pedestrians when I swing to the East of the JFX and go up Falls Road or Roland Hill Ave through “nice” neighborhoods.