I didn't plan to write one of those “Best. Time. Ever.” posts. But I’ve never seen so many people riding bicycles and smiling as I did at Friday night’s most recent iteration of the Baltimore Bike Party — the last Friday of each month group pedal around town. Big smiles, too.
I actually heard a guy at the Druid Hill Park rest stop say that he’d been waiting for a bike ride like this his whole life. (He was probably in his mid-20s, but still.)
More than 700 bicyclists, surpassing all expectations, rolled out together from Mt. Vernon’s Washington Monument for the “Moonlight Madness”-themed ride, a 12-13 mile trek through East Baltimore, West Baltimore, Druid Hill Park, Hampden and other neighborhoods. It wrapped up about 10 p.m. with an outdoor party at the Wyman Park Dell: Buscia’s Kitchen and IcedGems food trucks, Natty Boh on tap, music and dancing. Whole night could not have been better — check the comments on the event’s Facebook page. (The above photo, I took, the rest are courtesy of the event's Facebook page.
The ride was organized, traffic-friendly (with assistance from Baltimore’s finest), non-confrontational, and yet, blocks-long, had the feeling of an impromptu parade with bikes decorated with glow sticks, strobe lights and disco balls. And it was noisy, too, horns, bicycle bells, cowbells — and something that made a moose call — at least, that’s my best guess. Tim Barnett, one of the ride organizers, pulled a sound system in a trailer behind his bike as well, blasting everything from Ozzy to Kanye. Participants ranged from 15-50.
Best part, hands down, was the reaction in the neighborhoods. People came off their porches to high-five bicyclists. Young kids sprinted and roller-skated on sidewalks to keep pace. Older kids jumped on their bikes and joined in.
I heard one person standing on a corner yell out and ask what the giant ride was protesting.
“It’s not a protest,” came the answer from a bike behind me. “It’s a party!”