Today was a gorgeous day for a bike ride, so that's exactly what 40 (edit: 80!) or so Baltimoreans (and wanna-be B'moreans like me) did. But this ride wasn't to be only for fun, as it also commemorated cycling enthusiast and community activist, Jack Yates, who was killed in a hit-and-run collision with a truck earlier this summer. So with dual purpose, we set out from Gordon Plaza at the University of Baltimore and headed off into the hilly streets of northern Charm City. There were so many places and things that I wanted to snag photos of, but there's no way I could've kept up with the group if I'd stopped that much. Hopefully what I did capture will give some idea of the great time had by all.
The guys of the North Baltimore Bicycle Brigade put together a terrific route that headed first up towards and through Charles Village, along a short stretch of gritty Greenmount Ave, around Venable Park, back over and up the killer hill on Charles past Loyola College, and into the beautiful, park-like neighborhood of Springlake Way.
After a break to enjoy the scenery and annoy the residents, we cut over to Roland Park for a cruise up and down Roland Avenue, before heading down for a short run along the Jones Falls Trail and a stop to pay homage at the site of Jack's accident.
At the corner of Lafayette and Maryland Avenues, everyone stopped to raise their bikes in a moment of silence honoring Jack. The ghost bike placed in his memory is a moving sight, but even more sobering were the remnants of a bicycle-shaped police chalk line designating where he was hit and dragged around the corner. It was a sad reminder that no cyclist is immune to tragedy, no matter how experienced a rider they may be. No amount of vigilance and alertness will save you, no rights to the road provided by law will protect you, when things just plain go wrong between a motor vehicle and a bike.
But on a day like today, with a glorious blue sky and warm sunshine, it's best not to dwell for too long on solemn thoughts. It's so much better to pedal along with a bunch of friendly folks on a relaxed ride, celebrating the freedom of being on a bike, in the memory of a man who did so much for this part of the city.
Here's to you, Jack. I never met you, but I'm glad to know that you were here for at least a while...