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Miami Police Chief: “Critical Mass” Has Become A Critical Mess

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Is this Friday’s Critical Mass bike ride event a critical mess?

Yes, according to Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa.

Orosa said he supports the idea of Critical Mass, but not for breaking the law. During a news conference Wednesday, Orosa said what started out as a peaceful protest to convince drivers to share the road with cyclists is now out of control.

“The intent of sharing the road has turned into taking over the road,” said Orosa. “They go by cars pounding on cars, confronting motorists, threatening them that they have to leave the road. They think the road is theirs.”

Orosa says red lights are being run, kids are not wearing helmets and vendors are selling beers.

“This is why Critical Mass is a critical mess. There is no order, people show up and then they take off,” said Orosa.

Orosa said he’s also thinking of the cyclists’ safety. As an example, he pointed to an out-of-control Critical Mass in Brazil where a driver got so fed up that he ran over 20 cyclists.

Orosa said the police department has sent letters to Raydel Baluja Herrera, who owns the domain name the miamibikescene.com which advertises the Critical Mass rallies, which essentially put him on notice. The bike routes for critical mass are posted on the site.

The letter puts Baluja-Herrera on notice, stating, “failure to act in a reasonable and responsible manner may subject you to liability in the future.”

Eric Madrid participates regularly in critical mass and runs a nonprofit for cyclists.

“I guess this as a way for the chief to blame someone for what he sees as a mess,” Madrid told  CBS4’s Cynthia Demos. Demos asked him, “Is it a mess?”  Madrid replied, “The point is to raise awareness and adopt and embrace change and then it wouldn’t be a mess.”

Click here to WATCH Cynthia Demos’s report. 

Madrid says it’s about being heard and people often don’t realize the critical mass is a protest, a protest to make the area more bike-friendly.

CBS4 spoke to another cyclist, Chauncey O’Connor, who attended the news conference. He said the point of Critical Mass was to get attention and breaking the law was one way to do it.

“If you want the Critical Mass to continue, it’s going to result in the very least, but it was originated in 1992 and happens in 22 countries around the world, which is slight civil disobedience by going through traffic lights which causes the traffic to ask us what it is and we inform them of what are cause is, said O’Connor. “I will go through a light for slight civil disobedience.”

When asked if there will be a lot of tickets handed out during the ride this Friday, Orosa played coy and said that would be a surprise.

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