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Critical Mass Snarls Traffic In Miami & Miami Beach

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Lauren-Pastrana-600x450 Lauren Pastrana
Lauren Pastrana joined CBS Miami in April 2012 as a reporter. Sh...
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Drivers in both Miami and Miami Beach found themselves in an unusual amount of traffic as they made their way to happy hour Friday night.

Critical Mass once again took over the area, as it does on every final Friday of the month.

This month, the route included a trek over the 79 St Causeway, down Collins Ave. and over the Venetian Causeway before finishing at the starting point, the Government Center in Downtown Miami.

Before the ride, one of the event “organizers” stood before the crowd and reminded riders what it was all about.

“Remember, this is about bicycle safety,” Chauncey O’Connor shouted. “This is about awareness.”

The mission of the movement is to inspire cars to share the road with bikes, but in reality, there’s very little sharing done during Critical Mass.

Cyclists usually take over, leaving drivers like Diana Hirschfield stuck in the street.

“I think there should be someone here,” Hirschfield said of the lack of police presence. “I mean, I have an appointment at the library. This looks like I’m going to be sitting here for half an hour.”

Riders acknowledged the inconvenience, but say it’s a small price to pay considering what cyclists face each day.

“It’s very dangerous. People want to cut you off. They have no respect for bikes,” Phillip Tavares explained.

O’Connor said the event has raised awareness and money for the area.

“For those who are unhappy with what we’re doing, we’ve brought money and a lot of awareness,” O’Connor explained. “Several commissioners are also supporting our movement.”

Most major events that affect traffic require permits and planned detours, like Thursday’s Mercedes Benz Corporate Run.

But with Critical Mass, cops keep their distance.

Miami Beach officers were visible at some intersections, but not all of them were blocked by law enforcement, leaving drivers to wonder whether they could cross the street.

The Miami Beach Police Department did tweet about the event, reminding drivers to steer clear of the area if possible.

On Biscayne Blvd., there were some close calls.

Anxious drivers were tired of waiting.

Besides honking, there was little the could do to get around the crowd.

“Everything that I’ve seen looks incredibly dangerous,” one woman said. “Someone’s going to get hurt, or shot, or run over. And then we’re all going to be really sorry.”

The cyclists do not stop for red lights and don’t walk their bikes across bridges as instructed by signs.

On Friday, they rode for more than 20 miles.

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