It's the last Friday of the month, which means the ride is on tonight, and it's a winding one.
More significant, tonight's Critical Mass will pedal across the Venetian Causeway to South Beach — the last time cyclists can use the historic causeway before it closes Monday for months of repairs, shutting down the main bicycle and pedestrian link between mainland Miami and the Beach.
Tonight's ride will begin, as usual, on NW First Street in downtown. From there, the ride will head west, across the Miami River to State Road 7 in east Little Havana, then turn north.
The cyclists will ride along State Road 7, which turns into NW Seventh Avenue, through Overtown, Allapattah, and Liberty City, then turn east on Highway 944, south of NW 62nd Street. They'll pedal through Little Haiti to U.S. 1, then head north through the Upper Eastside to NW 79th Street, where the ride will turn east again, across the 79th Street Causeway through North Bay Village and into North Beach. Then riders will head south, along Collins and Washington avenues, before they finally cut back west across the Venetian Causeway and south along U.S. 1 back to downtown, essentially completing an enormous circle around Miami and Miami Beach.
But tonight's critical mass has added significance as the last ride scheduled before Monday's closing of the Venetian Causeway for a structural replacement that's expected to take nine months. Hundreds of pedestrians and cyclists use the Venetian every day to safely move between Miami and Miami Beach; the upcoming closure means they'll be left with only the two major causeways, where cars whiz by at freeway speeds and bike lanes are poor, as an alternative to pedal to South Beach.
The county and other agencies have not offered any plan, other than a promise to improve street sweeping on the MacArthur Causeway. (The 79th Street Causeway, then, will become the closest safe way to pedal across the bay.)
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Tonight's ride will meet at 6:30 at Government Center, 150 NW First St., and depart for the 20-mile loop at 7:15. Organizers remind participants to be courteous and safe. And let's hope drivers also share the road.
Here's the map of tonight's route: