Critical Mass Causes Headaches Again For Drivers

Just days after Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa called the Critical Mass bike rides a “critical mess,” another of the Critical Mass rides took place in Miami Friday night.

NBC 6 camers caught the bikers wasting little time blowing through red lights and jamming traffic as soon as the ride began.

“I guess they are successful because we can’t get anywhere right now,” one driver told NBC 6’s Steve Litz. “I guess it is working for them. It’s a great cause. I guess I am just trying to get through.”

Another driver said she had been sitting at a stop light for at least 10 minutes waiting for the massive group of riders to push through and said she was “concerned” about the event.

Critical Mass rides were designed to help drivers understand they share the roads with the cyclists and bike safety in general. However, they often end up taking over the roads completely. Chief Orosa said the rides need to be safer and that some riders could be cited.

Some of the riders had little sympathy for the drivers who were not able to get home on a Friday night. Rider Robert Wallace was asked by NBC 6’s Litz if he understood what drivers might be thinking if they have to wait 45 minutes to get home on a Friday night.

“I can see that, but I can also see alternate routes home,” Wallace said.

Other cyclists like Gloria Batule said they have a “little bit” of sympathy for the drivers, “if you’re in a hurry.”

The rides have had their share of problems in the past. A Miami Critical Mass ride in April led to some collisions between cars and cyclists after police decided to let them watch out for each other. In past rides, Miami Police had posted officers to help stem the flow of traffic.

Last month, a cyclist in Fort Lauderdale's Critical Mass ride claimed police used excessive force when they arrested him for intentionally blocking police cruisers on the road. Police said the man, Dan Littell, was confrontational and cut them off while they were operating in an emergency capacity.

Still, even with the controversy and scrutiny coming from Chief Orosa, some of the riders are already looking forward to the next event.

“That is the point of this, that is the point to be in their face one night a month until something is done about the lack of safe cycling infrastructure in the city and about the reactions towards cyclists in the city,” rider Michael Armadoros said.

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