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Is Critical Mass Getting out of Control?

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DWYANE WADE AT CRITICAL MASS MIAMI GABRIELLE UNION
Ivan Santiago

Critical Mass is arguably one of the best events in Miami and has been for a long time. Combining elements of health, fitness and community, the 12-16 mile bike ride (depending on the route) is the exact sort of gathering a diverse and budding city like Miami needs. In addition, besides from the health and social aspects, the aesthetics of the ride are simply breathtaking. To ride a bike, outside, during a tropical sunset, alongside pretty much every representative of our multicultural city, with synergy, traveling through some of the most beautiful and under-appreciated municipalities -- there's just nothing like it, for the riders, for the thousands who come out of their homes and businesses to cheer the ride along, or even for the cars who beep their support.

Granted, many in cars are not thrilled to sit in traffic on a Friday evening as a flash mob of cyclists clog the roads, but to silence that counterpoint, think of this comparison: if you can sit in your car at an intracoastal drawbridge for five minutes without having a heart attack as a rich man on a yacht sails by, you can wait five minutes for an all-ages, family-friendly community bike ride designed to promote sustainability and co-existence between motorists and bicyclists.

It's no surprise Critical Mass is gaining in popularity. It's that dope.

There must have been close to 2,000 cyclists this last Friday. Shucks. Even Dwayne Wade and his girlfriend came through. And they vowed to ride again, which will cause a rise in attendance because people are trendy, plus the weather is cooling down, so the event will continue to grow. But, is Critical Mass getting too big? Or, more specifically, is it getting too dangerous?

Let me be perfectly clear with this constructive criticism: people are riding Critical Mass too fast, and some are riding too slow. The riders in the front are splintering the group and the slow riders in the back aren't helping the cause either. How long are corkers expected to hang around and wait for slow riders? The whole point of any critical mass is to stay together because the power lies in numbers. If the group is splintered, the mass is lost. If the mass is lost, what's the point of the ride? Once the mass cracks, cars are (understandably) antsy and they go, especially without corkers.

Miami is one of the most dangerous cities in the country for pedestrians and bicyclists.

It's tough to say this, but it's just a matter of time before someone in a splintered patch gets hit by a car. The question is clear and couldn't be any simpler: how do you keep the mass together?

Unfortunately, the answer is not so simple.

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