Update 1 p.m.: The World OutGames have abruptly canceled all their sports events in Miami, citing unexpected fundraising problems. "We thank everyone who has supported the effort and apologize to those who will be impacted by this difficult decision," the organizers say in a statement.
Planning on driving anywhere this weekend? Good luck! With Urban Beach Week and a new air and sea show dueling for space on the beach, plus the World OutGames hosting events at venues across the county, plus Critical Mass pedaling out of downtown tonight, prepare to stare at plenty of bright-red streets on Google Maps.
As in years past, the Miami Beach Police Department is beefing up its presence and changing traffic patterns for Urban Beach Week, an unofficial gathering that usually draws hundreds of thousands of revelers from across the nation for beachside parties and hip-hop shows at Washington Avenue clubs. Those crowds could be even larger this year thanks to the city's attempt to "take back" the beach with the new air show (a move some critics blast as racist by trying to force out black tourists).
Traffic is already being rerouted in South Beach, with Ocean Drive closed to vehicles beginning at 7 this morning. When 7 p.m. rolls around, the notorious "loop system" will go into effect along Washington and Collins Avenues from Fifth to 17th Streets. Collins will be open northbound only and Washington Avenue southbound only, and only residents with valid photo IDs will be able to enter east/west roads within the loop.
Access points for residents inside the loop will be at 15th Street and Meridian Avenue, 15th Street and Alton Road, and 11th Street and Alton Road. Those who live south of Fifth Street must use access points set up on Fifth Street at Alton, Meridian, Washington, and Collins Avenues.
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The City of Miami Beach is reminding visitors and residents of other ways to get on and around the island, including county buses, the city trolley, and Water Taxi Miami.
On the other side of the bay, Critical Mass will begin at Government Center at 7:15 tonight (as it does the last Friday of every month). The 15-mile ride will traverse neighborhoods including East Little Havana, Coral Gables, Wynwood, and downtown before wrapping up at the newly opened Omni Park, which will host a bike party with food, drinks, and music from 8 to 11 p.m.
Rest assured: Traffic should start to go back to the usual hellscape by Monday, when Miami Beach roads reopen at 7 a.m.