Day 8: Maryland, Washington DC

Starting about 45 miles north of Baltimore, I followed US Route 40 west into the city. For very much of it, there was either a wide shoulder or a dedicated bike lane to ride in, and drivers were mostly considerate when passing. There was some interesting signage along the way- it appears that the 10 Commandments may require an amendment about taking care of the earth- and although I stopped for a snack, I failed to take advantage of these gas station oysters and crabs that are so plentiful in this part of Maryland.

Arriving in Baltimore, I was happy to see a billboard (hopefully that picture is legible/understandable) about passing bikes safely- maybe Maryland has an intense bicycle safety training program built in to driver’s ed? Or maybe drivers just follow the rules here. Either way, even without the bike lane I didn’t have any troubles biking around the city.

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While in Baltimore, I was able to visit the offices of US Wind (whose bicycle rack is woefully underutilized), a wind farm company that has led development of the Block Island wind farm in Rhode Island, and is currently in the planning/regulatory phase of constructing a 750 megawatt offshore wind farm near Ocean City, Maryland. If the Ocean City project is successful, it could mean a huge step forward for US offshore and onshore wind projects, making them a more attractive option for places looking to replace existing energy infrastructure in the coming decades.

Reflection: A year, a disastrous presidential election cycle, and many thousands of miles later, I’m glad that some of these renewable energy projects are already off the ground. For the next four years, it sounds like climate change legislation and environmental protection will be taking a backseat to more important things on the presidential to-do list,  like making life better for rich white men while cutting down a lot of progress that’s been made over the last four years on healthcare, minority’s rights and equality, and making the United States a welcoming place for foreigners. Projects like the Block Island Sound and Ocean City wind farms, vast on-land wind farms out in Oklahoma and Northern Texas, and huge solar arrays in the California desert show that renewables are already a viable and adaptable means of capturing energy at affordable prices and practical amounts, hopefully getting a foot in the door to survie disastrous deregulation of fossil fuel powered industries.

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Leaving Baltimore by the Gwynn’s Falls trail, I spent most of the remainder of the trip to DC on US Route 1, a bizarre mishmash of too-short bike lanes that didn’t lead anywhere meaningful, strip malls, country roads, and suburban neighborhoods.

tumblr_nx8nweixpn1uj13z1o6_1280Close to the Maryland/DC border, I once again met up with the Greenway- lost since yesterday morning- on the Branch Trail in College Park, MD. Part of a network of paved multi-use trails, it was both a welcome reprieve from cars and a beautiful place to watch the sun set before arriving in DC.

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