It took a while, but 8 days after the start of the school year, London, our 11yo, was finally placed and situated with her peers at Olmsted at Kensington High School. There was a lot of misunderstanding, misstating of information from the school registration employees, lack of returned calls and emails, and some good old fashion “take it to the top” maneuvering, but we got her enrolled in a school we hope will be the best fit between instructional methods and learning style. With everyone that needed to be, at a school and work during the day, I felt a little lighter to travel about the city. Less kids on my bike, fewer kids beside me on their bikes, and no one to argue with about which streets were best, and where to ride. It was me, Oliver, the 3.5yo, and Google maps, taking on our day.
Tuesday we ventured to meet up with someone from the Buffalo Mommies group at the Buffalo Museum of Science. Brent biked the boys to school so Oliver and I hung around home, packed our lunches and bundled up for the ride. It was brisk; maybe in the 60Fs when we departed. We followed the route to the boys’ school, taking Parker Avenue south, turning down the side walk on Main Street and then navigating the cross walk to Humboldt Parkway’s bike lanes. The pedestrian light is still not working. I will need to call that in.
The bike lane is sandwiched between parked cars on the right and a single direction of low volume traffic on the left with on and off ramps to the expressway. For city streets, this one is calm, freshly paved and level. We cruised through, made a left at our light and blink, we were there.
Our arrival was followed by a woman on a bike, whom I inquired with about how to get back home. Since this bike lane is one direction, and the other side of the express way, which is the other direction of Humboldt Parkway ends half way to Main, I wasn’t sure what to do. The last visit to the science museum we took Fillmore Avenue. It was a straight shot from the museum to Parker & Main, which could take us to pick up the boys at school, or carry us on home. However, Fillmore is in a rough neighborhood. The sidewalks are broken, covered in glass and often serving their duty to strollers, walkers and store patrons. The street isn’t much better. It widens to four lanes in places and then shrinks back to two with curbside parking. Feeling safe is important. Me, my preschooler, my bike, in a new, large city. We need that feeling of security. The cyclist suggested we head further west and catch Main, which added miles, but might be a good choice, although we’d be on the sidewalk there. Main is a wide through way with faster traffic. It’s a designated bike route, but not a very safe and practical one for children, or me.
We met up with Nicole and her preschooler from the mom’s group. I chatted up another four child family and one of the museum staff members. I was certainly in “desperate for adult conversation” mode. We explored spaces we enjoyed last time, nibbled some lunch and toured some exhibits that were new to us. Before anyone realized, three hours had whisked away and it was time to pick up the boys from school.
We loaded up the Yuba and made a choice of route. We opted to take Humboldt Parkway half way, then skip over to Fillmore and finish our journey. When we crossed over the highway the diagonal groove in the bridge was deep enough to bounce my cell phone out of it’s basket pocket and into the basket and my water bottle onto the bridge. I left the bottle behind (sorry!) and kept moving with traffic. That was the most unintentional of littering and I will pay penance with a neighborhood clean up effort this weekend. Promise.
The ride to school was quick and easy, although not the best of neighborhoods, or the best of timing. There were dozens of school buses dropping off large groups of students at many intersections. I felt I wasn’t welcome on the sidewalks or the streets. A little awkward, but manageable.
With the boys obtained, the bikes loaded, and helmets adjusted, we headed for home. There was a stop for groceries and some chit chatting about the highs and lows of everyone’s days. The weather warmed enough to break a sweat, and in time for the sun to dip low enough to cool off quickly once again.
We did those after school things, then gathered our coats once again for a post dinner neighborhood meeting at the local community center. The email I received mentioned a collaboration between the association and the city to pave and light a rails to trails path near our home. I didn’t want to miss that conversation, but I did. We arrived a few minutes late and the packed room was moving on to personal accounts of the drunken mob/zombie scenes that occur frequently in the University Heights area. My boys were very unnerved by the descriptions given and to be truthful, I was very surprised to hear our neighborhood described in this way. Apparently we live on a “quiet” street. I hope all their issues can be resolved peacefully, and we get our bike path.