After an ominous press conference from Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa and plenty of online speculation about whether cyclists would start facing fines and police crackdowns at Critical Mass, Friday's ride went surprisingly smoothly.
During the 13-mile route through the city, bikers rode through red lights in large groups as usual. But contrary to Orosa's complaints, the vast majority of children wore helmets and there were no beer vendors in sight.
"A lot of us are out here for a great cause, great exercise, and a good time," said Alex Villa, who often rides in Critical Mass. "(Friday's) success just shows that most of us riders are committed to keeping Critical Mass a part of the community."
This past Friday's route, which started at Government Center, notably stayed completely with the city of Miami just two days after Orosa called Critical Mass a "critical mess" and asked organizers to clean up the mess before they become "liable."
Usually, the rides favorite detours in Coral Gables and Miami Beach, where officers have been more cooperative.
While many riders came out to prove the police wrong, some did agree that the event had been getting out of hand.
"It was losing it's meaning," said Ivan Contreras, who has been riding in Critical Mass for 3 years. "Miami riders have done a great job of maintaining the event, but as the rides get bigger, it just becomes harder to keep everyone safe."
Contreras and six other friends have taken safety measures into their own hands by starting Ride in Color, a business where they sell neon colored shirts and neon lights for bikers to help ensure safety.
"Critical Mass is about a message -- cars have to share the road with bicycles," Contreras said. "But that doesn't mean drivers are the only ones that need to be careful. Cyclists need to take every precaution to be safe too."
Article by Sabrina Rodriguez
Miami New Times
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