Jacob Katel

Politics and pedals mix during Critical Mass

This past Saturday one of two group-bike-ride events in Miami that carry the Critical Mass name met at Vizcaya Metro Rail station to traverse areas of downtown, Brickell Key and Coconut Grove via self propelled motion.

Adam Schachner broke the route down, Flash from the Wallflower Gallery made an announcement, I took a group photo, then we pedaled off into the morning sun. There's was a lot cool shit to look at as we rode through downtown. I snapped shots of people and buildings along the water's edge as we rolled with the street traffic and as we bike-pathed it though joggertown. Young and old, gearheads and normals rode together, chatting, iPodding, or just zoning as we headed on down the road.

Later on, we arrived at a political rally in Peacock Park. Apparently, the organizers of the rally were expecting us as the announcer welcomed "Critical Mass" as we rolled up. She asked, "Does anyone have anything they want to say?" I got on the mic and said, "Hello. Shit. Shit like that. That kind of shit. Free speech. Free speech gotdammit."

Critical Mass is a worldwide phenomenon touted as having a non-hierarchical structure and no political motivation. The point of it is supposed to be the group bike ride and to bring bicycle awareness to the community. Any group or organization misappropriating the name for their own political means should be held accountable.

The ride was promoted in the New Times as well as on a public web portal the group uses to attract members. Anybody can find out about it, show up, and ride -- that's beauty of it. The organizers of the bike ride should have known better than to expect every random person who might show up to adhere to their agendas. I got in a heated argument with a political organizer over my alleged besmirching of the Critical Mass name in front of a city commissioner or something. The argument ended with his yelling "Fuck you!" and riding off as I yelled back "Nah, fuck you motherfucker, you ain't no better than me!"

The rally itself was cool and offered positive, proactive responses to the energy crisis via alternate fuel sources, building techniques and transportation modes. I fully support it, I'm glad it happened and I hope more people stand up, unite and create events and solutions to address the problems plaguing our environment.

After the rally, we hit the Grove's green market, chilled, and then headed back to the rail. Despite the incident at Peacock Park, I still had a great time.

-- Jacob Katel

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