Pedaling my way through and with Charm City

By RENEE SCAVONE | February 8, 2018

B2_Bike Party Crop
COURTESY OF HANNAH MELTON Bike Party brings Baltimoreans from all over the city all through the city.

If you’re about to read this article while cozy in your bed in Nine East, these next few paragraphs might not really be for you.

After four semesters of living in the dorms, when I moved farther into Charles Village junior year it felt like the commute to get anywhere became roughly 45 minutes, barring traffic.

It’s a common Hopkins crisis. Other schools with rolling lawns and multiple undergraduate campuses demand knowledge of public transport, car ownership and, perhaps worst of all, the inability to just roll out of bed 20 minutes before class.

We, on the other hand, spend the first two years of school being utterly coddled by the smallness of the Hopkins campus. 

As someone who lives on the 2900 block of Guilford (yes, where all the robberies are) I’ve had to deal with many friends refusing to come over simply because the walk is too long.

The moment I got a bike, however, all of that changed.

(Okay, anyone who lives in The Charles can start reading again.)

Biking is useful in Baltimore for a lot of reasons. We’ve all heard the city referred to as “Smalltimore” due to its small town feel, but after I got a bike I felt that on more than just a figurative level. 

If I want to go to the Inner Harbor, all I need is 20 minutes and the blind courage necessary for dealing with Baltimore drivers. The Windup Space? Don’t have to wait for a Blue Jay Shuttle. Towson Mall? I can get there in less time than it took to create any Migos song. 

I recommend bike ownership for everyone, for many reasons, but perhaps the most important part of owning a bike in Baltimore is the monthly tradition of Bike Party.

Baltimore Bike Party was founded in 2012. It is exactly what it sounds like. On the last Friday of every month, hundreds of people take to the streets on their bikes. 

This is a national phenomenon, with similar programs in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. 

However, Bike Party is more than just a ride. It’s an experience.

There’s a different theme every month, and participants are encouraged to dress up and play along. Some of my favorites from the past year include:

Pajamboree, a cozy ride that allowed for extra layering in the November chill.

Pirates vs. Ninjas, which had the added bonus of creating needless, fake competition. (I was a pirate. Obviously.) 

And Need for Tweed, where folks wore, you guessed it, tweed.

This month’s theme is Dungeons and Dragons, inspired by the game’s presence in Netflix’s Stranger Things

I cannot quite describe the emotions I had the first time I participated in a ride. 

I remember riding down Saint Paul in Charles Village after classes had ended in May and seeing real, local Baltimoreans yelling at us from their windows. It made me feel like I was real and local too.

To look behind me and in front of me and see an endless sea of people biking, yelling, and blasting music invoked a sense of camraderie that I’ve otherwise only felt at concerts and protests. 

The route changes each ride, but they all start out in St. Mary’s Park. Afterwords, every Bike Party ends with a real party at a local space, which means that you get to discover yet another part of the city.

So don a silly costume, hop on a bike and pedal your way through Charm City. You may be in for the ride of a lifetime.

Correction:

The previous article originally stated that the bike route begins in Patterson Park when it actually begins in St. Mary’s Park.

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