Will 2012 be regarded as the year Critical Mass penetrated Miami’s mainstream culture?
There’s no denying it, ladies and gentlemen: The monthly assemblage of what is now consistently 1000-2000 cyclists for Miami’s Critical Mass has hit, or is at least beginning to hit, the mainstream.
Yes, of course, we have the brouhaha generated by certain celebrity athletes’ participation at recent rides. If you’ve missed it, here’s just one tiny sample of the coverage of recent Critical Mass appearances by the likes of basketball idols Dwayne Wade and Lebron James.
As with all cities, but with Miami in particular, the presence of high-profile figures makes things buzz just a bit more loudly and brightly. Their presence has undeniably elevated the event’s public profile in a positive way. Thank you, basketball superheros!
As a quick aside, though, in the opinion of this humble author, if we wish to see these guys at future rides — which would be great for the Miami biking community — we should probably not hound them with fanatical human-worshiping behavior. Let them embrace the ride in its raw, unadulterated-by-celebrity-fixation glory like any other Miamian.
Twenty-twelve was critical for Critical Mass in ways that go beyond the mere presence of famous athletes, though. Most importantly, the past year saw a virtually exponential increase in ridership.
I don’t have any solid data (does anyone?), but there’s a distinct impression that the number of riders averaged around 500 in 2011 while averaging around 1000 in 2012 (plus or minus a few hundred, depending on the month, weather, and maybe even the alignment of the planets — who knows!?)
What’s important to understand, though, is that Critical Mass reached a certain threshold in 2012. Throughout the course of the past year, word has spread farther and wider than ever before on the wonders and excitement of this cherished celebration of cycling and community.
It’s penetrated beyond the sub-cultural circles of fixie-riding hipsters; latex-wearing roadies; cruiser-riding beach bums; blinged-out, low-riding gangsters; your grandma and grandpa; and all other bicycle geek squads of various sorts (including nerdy blog writers).
Indeed, it’s now even reached the radars of Miami’s basketball legends-in-the-making.
The point, however, is that Critical Mass brought D-Wade and King James; they didn’t bring Critical Mass.
Dare I also go so far as to posit that in 2012 Critical Mass even served diplomatic purposes by further consolidating bilateral relations between the United States and at least one of its European allies?
We all remember the epic April 2012 Go Dutch! Orange Bike-In Festival!, celebrating Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag) and sponsored by the Consulate General of the Kingdom of The Netherlands.
As with all Miami Critical Mass rides, this righteous event was unofficially organized by the The Miami Bike Scene (at least to the extent that such an inherently organic and self-regulating event can even be ‘organized’ at all).
There are also other qualities marking the Critical Mass rides of 2012 from all previous years. In the preceding years, and even in early 2012, Critical Massers would convene directly beneath the Metrorail and Metromover tracks at the Government Center transit station, where the administrative offices of Miami-Dade County are located.
Now, however, the rendezvous point has reached, well, a critical mass. We now regularly occupy not only the ground floor of Government Center station, but also nearly all of NW 1st Street from NW 1st to 2nd Avenues, with pockets of riders filling other adjacent areas as well. The meeting spot has now become the meeting block.
The city’s public safety crews are now much more sympathetic and cooperative with the event too. I personally remember my earliest masses when I would hear rumors floating through the crowds that cops were vigilantly ‘giving citations’ and that riders needed to ‘watch out for cops’.
Such hearsay, whether legitimate or not, cast a sort of perceived antagonism between cops and mass cyclists. These days, though, I don’t hear any of that nonsense, and I’m glad for it too! In fact, the only interaction I witnessed between the cyclists and cops at this past weekend’s ride was quite heartening: patrol cars waited patiently for 10-15 minutes for the bulk of the mass to get through.
Also, as was recently reported on an extremely prestigious, high-profile news source, our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man was seen protecting Critical Mass riders as they made their way through the city.
With public defenders like Spidey (or at least a cool firefighter dude dressed-up like him) climbing street-lamps to demonstrate their good-will toward cyclists, one finds it difficult to deny that Critical Mass has indeed made it to the big leagues of Miami’s collective consciousness.
So, our dearly beloved readers, we ask you to give us your reflections on the past year of Critical Mass . . .
Will you remember 2012 as the year Miami’s Critical Mass went mainstream?
Whatever the case, while 2012 was unquestionably a great year for Miami Critical Mass, I’m pretty sure it’s only going to get better in 2013.
Happy New Year, Miami!
Are you a beginning cyclist and think Critical Mass is only for hard-core riders?
If so, you’re absolutely wrong. Critical Mass is for riders of all skill-levels and all ages. There is no club or organization that runs the show. There are no membership fees or special invitations required. In fact, if you’re looking for an invitation, here it is: You are invited!
We meet the last Friday of every month at Government Center Metrorail station — you won’t miss us. Arrive between 6:45 and 7:00pm. We leave at 7:15pm. Check out The Miami Bike Scene for details on the monthly ride.
There is, however, one group who we strongly advise NOT to attend Critical Mass: super villains and bad guys!
That’s right, you read it correctly, all you crime-seeking punks! Want to test your luck? Ha! Well, I’d give it a second thought if I were you.
‘Why’, you ask? I’ll tell you why! As a matter of fact, I’ll show you why!
So LeBron James biking to work on the reg is making national news which is terrific. Though while reading through some of the coverage, a particular comment caught my attention, reading, ‘It’s great to see LeBron biking to work just like an average Joe.‘
Now wait a second. Since when do ‘average Joes’ bike to work here? That’s exactly the problem. ‘Average Joes’ don’t bike to work. ‘Average Joes’ drive alone, sit in traffic and wonder why they are overweight and unhappy.
Don’t be an ‘average Joe’. Be a LeBron.
What can we learn from the Miami of the past?
With some extra ‘indoor time’ over the past few days due to tropical storm Isaac (when I wasn’t bike riding or taking photos of the devastation), I spent a good deal of time looking at old photos of Miami on FloridaMemory.com. It’s fascinating to observe the evolution of Miami and it’s environs; how some areas drastically transformed while others stay remarkably similar though the years. What’s also captured here is the insidious destruction the automobile wrought on downtown Miami through the 50′s and 60′s after the streetcars were town out, historic buildings were razed and parking lots sprouted like mushrooms after a spring rainfall.
I’ve been posting a few photos on our Facebook page, but without further adieu, here is a collection of my favorites.
Which are yours?
Ride to raise supplies for Haiti. The ride will start at Government Center and go through Little Haiti.
We will be riding through Little Haiti and going to Haitian markets and picking up non-perishable goods. Water, canned food, medical supplies of your choice. We will be riding to Fire Station #9 and delivering it to the Miami Fire Department who will be bringing everything to a single drop off point.
101 NW First St
Rydel over at Miami Bike Scene does a kick-ass job organizing the monthly Critical Mass Rides. The ride starts at Government Center on the last Friday of each month at 6:30pm. The route changes every month. Click here for more information.
Steven P. Clark Government Center
111 NW 1st Street.
Miami, FL 33128
Miami Critical Mass falls on Christmas Day this year. Bring out your new bike, hopefully some of you got lights for Xmas.
This will be a short ride. We will ride though Downtown Miami, Coral gables, Miracle Mile, and Little Havana. 12 miles total. Don’t be late, we’ll be leaving early. We’ll be stopping for a group photo by the large xmas tree at Bayfront Park.
Here’s a link to the route
Friday December 25th @ 6:30pm
101 NW First St
For more information go the Miami Critical Mass Facebook page
101 NW First St
Our friend Rydel over at Miami Bike Scene is organizing a very special Critical Mass ride this month. This ride will be dedicated to the memory of Rodolfo Rojo, a 17 y/o who was killed by a speeding car on October 30th, 2009. Rodolfo was planning on attending his first Critical Mass (Halloween) on the date the tragedy took place. Unfortunately this young man’s life was cut short by a careless driver. Please join us on this memorial ride where we’ll be stopping by the scene of the accident, a ghost bike will be placed for Rodolfo at this location. My sincere condolences to his mother Claudia Fernandez and siblings who will be joining us on the ride.
The ride will head north on Biscayne Blvd towards Miami Shores & surrounding areas. The group will pass through Downtown, Edgewater, Design District, Little Haiti, Upper East Side and Miami Shores. 20 miles total.
Invite all your friends with bicycles. This is a night ride so please bring lights for safety!
101 NW First St
Miami, FL 33128
“The ride will meet at the Government Center and riding north. We will be riding north and west full route to be determined. We will be ending at the Miami Book Fair International, about 5 blocks east of Government Center.
There will be a Bicycle Valet set up at the book fair, and if you want to go in you get a discount for riding your bike. Thanks to the Green Mobility Network for organizing the Bike Valet.”
For more info: Emerge Miami / Meetup
Friday night’s Halloween Critical Mass ride was yet another success with an estimated 300 bicyclists coming out for the event. The event was well organized without incident. For the most part pedestrians and motorists cheered us on as we cruised in costume down Calle Ocho, through Mary Brickell Village and the Design District. For a change cars were honking for us and not at us which was encouraging. Costumes that deserve an honorable mention include: Cool Runnings, the Mormons, and Rydel in fishnet stockings.
The ride will be passing through Little Havana, Mary Brickell Village, Downtown, Bayside, Edgewater, Design District, Wynwood & Midtown. 17.5 miles total.
A special thanks to our Rydel over at Miami Bike Scene for organizing this ride.
Its official, Miami has a plan for bicycles. The Miami Bicycle Master Plan was approved unanimously (4-0) by commissioners today. This is fantastic news and is praiseworthy; however, the victory speaks more about a vocal, passionate, and diverse bicycling constituency that has made great strides over the course of the past year and a half.
Today’s victory for bicyclists is their second triumph in the past two months. A couple of months ago, this very same bicycling community, came out to speak in favor of the Miami 21 zoning code. Coincidentally, these advocates happened to be one of the strongest supporters of the transformative form based code that is now set to guide Miami’s future development.
It’s important that the bicycling community maintain pressure on elected officials to ensure that the plan is actually implemented. I have no doubt that it can be done. This was reinforced to me this past weekend by the thousands of bicyclists that attended Bike Miami Days. Momentum is certainly on our side and seems to be increasing. Last month’s critical mass ride set a Miami record with nearly 200 bicyclists. This month’s Halloween ride should easily supersede that number.
Bicycling is now in vogue in Miami, and this fad isn’t going away anytime soon. If you don’t have a set wheels you better get some soon. All the cool kids got them.
Make sure to join in on the fun next month. Pre-Halloween ride. Costumes encouraged!
October 30th, 2009
The Critical Mass ride last night encouraged 150-170 bicyclists to take the streets of Miami. These are big numbers for Miami and prove that the momentum for bicycling is really picking up here.
The ride was well organized and the turnout created quite a spectacle. We started at Government Center around 7:00pm and headed west on Flagler Street through Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Brickell and back to Government Center. People on the street were cheering, as if it were a race. Cars had no option but to yield to the bicyclists.
Politicians in Miami, be forewarned, the cycling constituency is politically active and you will have to answer to us. We care about our city, and we promise to hold you accountable for the lack of bicycling infrastructure in our city. Whether its Regalado or Sanchez that becomes our next Mayor, it would be wise to engage the cycling electorate. Bicyclists come in all shapes and sizes, and we will no longer tolerate being relegated to riding on the sidewalk.
A special “thank you” to Rydel at Miami Bike Scene for being so diligent and promoting this great event. Please spread the word. I would personally like to see twice as many bicyclists at the next Critical Mass event on Friday October 30th. I think it’s possible. Let’s make it happen.
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