Tag Archives: Bikes

The Chop Goes Car-Free

There are a couple of seldom-admitted paradoxes that we’ve been noticing more and more lately that we want to address today, and they have to do with bicycles and buses.

Most of the “bike people” we know and interact with are eager to evangelize bicycling as a lifestyle. They’re always quick to tout the health benefits, brag about not being stuck in traffic, and romanticize things like Ciclovia. Mention anything negative about cars and they’re quick to suggest that you buy a bike. Once you get them off their soapboxes though, and they start to speak frankly, they’ll let slip that drivers are rude and sometimes violent to cyclists, tires blow out far from home, riding through bad neighborhoods is scary, scrapes and bruises are far too common, you often arrive sweaty or rained-on, and bike planning leaves a lot to be desired. Who wouldn’t want to bike everywhere?

Baby you can drive my car... cause I'm done with it.

Similarly, public transit’s biggest advocates are also its biggest critics. Those who praise the virtues of leisurely reading on a bus commute or bypassing traffic on a train are also the first to scream bloody murder when a bus misses a stop or the MARC is delayed (which happens every single day).

With all this in mind, we’re starting to doubt our own sanity considering that this week we’ve decided to sell our perfectly good Chopmobile and buy a bicycle, but that is precisely what we’ve determined to do.

It’s not like we’re breaking new ground here. We’re certainly not the first person to live in Baltimore without a car. Hell, we’ve even spent two separate years carless before now, so we’ve got a pretty good idea of what it’s like to live without a car. The key difference now though is that where before our reasons for being carless were financial and circumstantial, this time we’re making an active lifestyle choice. We’re going to try being car-free as opposed to car-less.

The main challenge here is not dodging traffic coming down Saint Paul at rush hour… for us, it’s trying to ride a bicycle without becoming a “bike person.” We’ve spent the past weekend bike shopping, and some of these bike-shop people are even worse than car salesmen.

So we’re not going to become a bicycle commuter. There aren’t any critical mass events or Annapolis trail rides in our very near future. We might even buy another car in the next year or so. In the meantime though, we just want to get around a few miles’ radius of the inner city, and we want to do it on two wheels. Wish us luck.

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Bi-Weekly Political Roundup: Six Dollar a Gallon Gas Edition

The Chop is a longtime lover and admirer of the Great Outdoors. Not like hills and forests and all that crap, but we like sidewalks a lot. We’d rather climb a rooftop than a mountain, and rather cool off in an open fire hydrant than some crummy lake. (People pee in lakes! That’s gross!) We’ve been noted as one of the area’s preeminent urban outdoorsmen, which mostly means that we like drinking outside.

It’s for this reason we’re so excited that the Baltimore Chapter of Drinking Liberally will be meeting at the Laughing Pint tonight, and availing ourselves of the outdoor tables. Beer always tastes better when it is drunk en plein air, and Democracy is always the more the merrier, so consider yourself invited. Just look for the big red, white and blue bottle on the table.

Baltimore's Drinking Liberally meets at the Laughing Pint tonight. 7 pm.

We’ll be even happier when the meetings move back to Joe Squared, because we can easily walk there. In fact, we can walk to a lot of our favorite places and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing lately. We’ve only been averaging two car trips a week, and those being short ones, which is quite handy since gas is going to be SIX DOLLARS A GALLON very soon and forevermore.

Let’s talk about that for a minute, since with congress on Spring Break it’s one of the very few political stories happening at the moment. What is causing high gas prices? Well, what caused the fall of Rome? What caused World War II? What’s causing global warming? There’s no one thing you can point to to blame for the increase in gas prices. There’s not even any six things. It’s not Obama’s fault, not the refiners’ fault, not OPEC, not Wall Street, etc. It’s just the way of the world. The truth is that we’ve been overdue for six dollar gas for about a decade or two. We got (and get) a lot of free and cheap oil from the Kuwaitis, but not even that is a permanent solution, especially when it’s all burned up by humvees and jets in our other blood-for-oil adventure, which so far has netted us zero free barrels, and is unlikely to anytime soon.

So six dollar gas is going to be a fact of life, and we’re all just going to have to get used to it. If we sound a little smug about that, well, we are. We live in the city and like to walk. We’re even going to buy a bicycle when the time is right. We don’t even commute to work. When six dollar gas arrives, we’re fully prepared to put our shoe leather where our mouth is. We’re serious, and we wish everyone else was as well.

In the last few years in Baltimore we’ve seen a number of incremental improvements for car-free living. We have a Bike Czar now, new lanes and trails for cyclists, a Charm City Circulator, the MTA’s Charm Card, zipcars and the Red Line plan, which is coming- like it or not. None of these things are perfect, but as more people gravitate toward them with the rise in gas prices, they’re all bound to improve.

Perhaps the best part about the change that’s gonna come? We can drink. Liberally. After all, we’re not driving home.

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Bikes, Bands and Burritos @ Charm City Art Space Today

So, the Baltimore Chop has already gone on record as giving brunch our seal of approval, but if there’s one thing we like more than fancy hotel brunch, it’s gotta be DIY punk rock brunch- which is exactly what we’re doing today.

This is late-breaking developments, Baltimore! We were tentatively planning to do the day-tripping thing today, and check out the DC Record Fair at the Black Cat before taking the metro down to Nationals Park to see our O’s reign victorious in the Battle of the Beltways, but when we suggested this to Roommate he say “No way Jose! Domingo esta los Bicycletas, Mariachis, y Burritos!!!” or something to that effect.

Bikes, Bands and Burritos is at Charm City Art Space today. Doors= too early.

Yes Baltimore, today is the annual celebration of Bikes, Bands, and Burritos at Charm City Art Space. We’re going to treat this as brunch since we’re lazy and won’t be rolling out of bed until noon, but to a lot of other people, it means much more than that.

This week was National Bike to Work Week and as we all know, North Baltimore loves bikes. In addition to being a worthy cause on its own, Bike to Work Week has been endorsed by some of the Chop’s favorite blogs, namely the Magnificent Bastard and Kempt. Although the Chop recommends you follow local custom and throw your bike in the back of a co-worker’s car and go to happy hour on the way home from the office.

In an extra little bit of kismet, today’s show also coincides with the Baltimore Bike Jam and Kelly Cup, and if you pedal fast enough you can even do both.

But down to brass tacks: if you want to buy, sell, or trade a bicycle or some bicycle parts, show up at 10 am. If you want to participate in a punkrock group ride around the city, show up by 10:30. And if you want to do like the Chop does and see Tiny Bombs and Fires and nosh on tasty veggie Mexican food (swap napa cabbage for kale there) show up at noon sharp, because that’s what time they’re playing.

It’s all pot luck, and the Chop loves to wow ’em with the veggie pot luck surprise, so we’re definitely bringing a dish. We even made a trip to the Upper Fells’ Point supermercado the other day, so we’ve got some authentic ingredients cold chillin’ in our fridge.

And if you’re still unsatisfied with that, you can always walk around the corner and get a proper brunch at Joe Squared (who knew?) and go authentico with one of their many tequilas like we just might.

Ole!

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