In case you missed it, South Florida NPR affiliate WLRN ran a short piece on Miami’ Critical Mass last Friday. Shannon Novak, a freelancer for the station, had showed up along with someone from the Herald’s Neighbors section (although it still hasn’t run in Neighbors, and we don’t know why)
Novak’s story features the voices of Rydel Hererra and yours truly (Hererra maintains the Miami Critical Mass Myspace page, and I write this here bike blog, neither of which Novack mentioned, but she did at least plug the official unofficial worldwide CM website. Overall, it was a good story, and it’s encouraging to see the Miami’s mainstream media picking up on the area’s emerging bike culture.
Still, it’s hard not to notice a certain, shall we say, narrative thread that Novak – despite being pretty clearly sympathetic – couldn’t seem to avoid.
To wit: Novak’s story opens with fifteen bikers (there were twenty-five) blocking a lane with a swirling mass of bikes called a “tornado” (that particular stunt only lasted about thirty seconds), and quickly moves to a discussion of how “militant” or not Miami’s critical mass is (it isn’t, Novak concludes). The next question is whether or not the Mass has a permit (as if any bike group needs one to ride), moving on to that oh-so-important question of bikers blowing red lights.
The title of her piece: “Bicyclists protest lack of space,” is not exactly inaccurate – but the choice of words is telling.
We don’t blame Novak – what’s really amazing about the piece is that a bicycle movement now sixteen years old, occurring regularly in nearly every major city in the United States (it just celebrated it’s 10th year in Chicago, where the event draws over two thousand riders), should be news in Miami at all.
By the way, the Neighbors writer supposedly working on a print version was last spotted trying to get information on Critical Mass from . . . the police.