After an ominous news conference from Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa and plenty of online speculation about whether cyclists would begin 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 began at Government Center, notably stayed completely within the City of Miami limits just two days after Orosa called Critical Mass a "critical mess" and asked organizers to clean it up before they become "liable."
Usually the rides favorite detours into Coral Gables and Miami Beach, where officers have been more cooperative.
While many riders turned out to prove the police wrong, some agreed the event had been getting out of hand.
"It was losing its meaning," said Ivan Contreras, who has been riding in Critical Mass for three 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 friends have taken safety measures into their own hands by starting Ride in Color, a business that sells neon-colored shirts and lights so bikers are more visible to motorists.
"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 who need to be careful. Cyclists need to take every precaution to be safe too."
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