Critical Mass: It's Time for Miami Police and Motorists to Respect Bike Riders
On Friday, however, many riders couldn't complete the trip. Around 8:30 p.m., storm clouds began carpet-bombing Calle Ocho with rain. Some cyclists ducked into Little Havana stores for cover, but most kept on pedaling.
They probably shouldn't have. By now, it was dark, but few riders had lights. As the crowd got stretched out, cars began passing at dangerous speeds, sluicing around cyclists despite the driving rain. Many bikers decided it was safer on the sidewalk, but that only pissed off pedestrians.
"What was most irksome was when the rain fell and the cyclists began to ride on the sidewalks under the awnings and then parked with their bikes," wrote one commenter on a Reddit thread titled "Critical Mass Douchebaggery." "That meant the pedestrians had to walk in the rain so no one's precious bike would get wet... It used to be a cool spectacle to see all the bikes. Now you can hear the merchants and festivalgoers talk about 'those assholes.' "
Indeed, the debate over Critical Mass has never been more virulent. Some drivers would happily hit a cyclist if it didn't mess up their wax job. As Critical Mass has grown, so have the delays -- and anger -- it causes.
Michael E. Miller Bikers made it back downtown safely after the squall
Meanwhile, a string of deadly, high-profile hit-and-runs have sown anger among bikers. First, playboy pop musician Carlos Bertonatti killed cyclist Christophe Le Canne on the Rickenbacker in 2010. Two years later, Michael Traverso fatally hit cyclist Aaron Cohen on the same road only to be sentenced to less than a year in jail. Several other recent deadly hit-and-runs have never been solved. In May, teenagers with BB guns repeatedly attacked Rickenbacker cyclists.
The standoff between annoyed drivers and outraged cyclists came to a head in late June, when Mount Sinai surgeon Irvin Willis struck two Critical Mass bikers with his black Mercedes. According to a police report, Willis was trying to pass cyclists on the 79th Street Causeway when he hit a father and son, injuring the latter.
The incident ignited an internet war. "The problem is NOT critical mass but the fucking stupid car drivers in Miami," one New Times reader commented. Another posted a video of a car barreling like a bowling ball through a Critical Mass ride in Brazil and wrote, "I'm waiting for this to happen [here]."
The hit-and-run also reflected poorly on the Miami Police Department. More than a month later, investigators have yet to even interview Willis. Instead, they seem more concerned with punishing cyclists. After last June's Critical Mass, Miami cops arrested local chef Aleric "AJ" Constantin for selling ice cream from a tricycle without the proper paperwork. (Constantin will go to court on the charges this month.)