If you thought the thousands of people trying to get to Ultra would be your only traffic headache this weekend, prepare for some bad news. Today isn't just the first day the music festival tests its plan for transporting hordes of EDM lovers to Virginia Key. It's also the last Friday of the month, which means cyclists with Critical Mass will take over local roads for several hours.
Since Ultra's move to Virginia Key was first approved, local officials and event organizers have fretted over how to keep traffic moving along the Rickenbacker Causeway, the only road linking Virginia Key and Key Biscayne to Miami. They ultimately decided upon a transportation plan that includes about 230 shuttles to carry festival-goers between the island and three hubs on the mainland: the AmericanAirlines Arena, the old Miami Herald site near the Omni, and the Metrorail's Vizcaya station. Ferries are also available, but unlike the free shuttles, they cost $149.
Today's Critical Mass route will send riders slightly north of the Rickenbacker Causeway chaos, though they, too, will be heading across local causeways. As always, the cyclists will meet at Government Center in downtown Miami beginning at 6:30 p.m. They'll pedal up NW Second Avenue, through Overtown on NW Third Avenue, and then through Wynwood on NW Fifth Avenue.
From there, the riders will take NW Third Avenue to Little Haiti, then head up Biscayne Boulevard to the 79th Street Causeway. They'll pedal south down Collins Avenue before turning onto Pine Tree Drive. Then they'll merge onto Dade Boulevard and take the Venetian Causeway back to mainland Miami. They'll turn on North Miami Avenue, then NW Third Street and NW First Avenue to get back to their starting point.
In a tweet yesterday afternoon, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber warned residents that the group bike ride is likely to affect traffic for at least three hours beginning at 7:15 p.m. Miami Beach Police will have officers stationed at key intersections along the route, he said:
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Meanwhile, Ultra's first set is at 2 p.m. today. The festival, which was booted last year from its longtime home at Bayfront Park, runs from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. today, tomorrow, and Sunday. Because revelers trickle in through the afternoon and evening, organizers expect the real traffic test to come at the end of each day, when there will be a mass exodus off the island. While Uber and Lyft can take people onto Virginia Key, pickups are prohibited.
Attendees can hail rideshares from the three mainland transportation hubs. Parking will be available at both the Omni and the arena garages; Ultra is selling passes for $30 a day.
Anyway, good luck out there today, Miami! Look at the bright side: At least the Miami Open is happening at Hard Rock Stadium this year instead of on Key Biscayne.