After the last Miami Critical Mass, on August 26, 2011, I realized that we had first photographed the monthly group ride almost exactly a year earlier, on August 27, 2010. In fact, that ride was the subject of the third post ever on this here blog. Feeling nostalgic, we decided to compile our favorite photos from a year of Miami Critical Mass, one each from the 13 rides between August 2010 and August 2011. Each photo links to its original post, where you can see more photos from the rides. The next CM is this Friday. We will be there, camera in tow.
Last night’s Critical Mass drew another big crowd for a 12-mile ride with a long stretch north through Allapattah and Liberty City along N.W. Seventh Avenue, another straight shot east along 71st Street, and a home stretch south along U.S. 1. Aside from attracting a bit of police attention — at one point, on 71st Street, they forced part of the mass (momentarily) off route — the ride went smoothly from where I was peddling, and it was over way too soon, only about an hour after it started. Most of our photos this time around come from Government Center, before the ride started.
Friday night’s ride through Overtown, Wynwood, Allapattah, Little Havana, and downtown ended, for the first time since BAR closed down, at the Filling Station. I’d report back on the new Critical Mass watering hole, but I couldn’t manage to squeeze in. Anyone else? Here’s hoping each of the several cyclists I saw eat it during the ride got the beer I wanted. And here are some photos from the ride. Head over to our Facebook page to see the rest.
A couple of unlikely things led cyclist Ken Bereski II to court with an aggravated assault case against a motorist who he says tried to run him off Alton Road on July 12. The first was that Bereski, a Mac computer consultant who lives and works in South Beach and rides his bike to all of his local jobs, caught the incident on video through a rearview camera he had mounted on his back wheel.
Few cyclists take the precaution of video recording their commutes, but Bereski says he has had so many “near-death” experiences biking around Miami that he typically records all of his rides through two cameras, the one mounted on his back wheel and another on his front wheel that points straight ahead. (On this day, the front wheel camera was busted, so he only has rearview footage.)
The video of the ride shows a black Infiniti SUV close in on Bereski from behind, before passing him on the left in possible violation of Florida’s three-feet passing law. At the next light, Bereski pulled up alongside the driver’s window.
If you’re a regular Beached Miami reader, then you know about Emerge Miami and all the good work they do to make our hometown a better, more bicycle-y place. This weeks marks the group’s fifth anniversary, and, in signature Emerge style, they are celebrating by hosting a really fun group bike ride (details, link below). To mark the occasion, I asked Emerge member Adam Schachner to contribute a post commemorating the group’s half decade of local activism. Cue Adam:
There’s no subtle indication that Miami is a culturally and ideologically fractious city. Miami’s communities vary as significantly as our landscapes, from club culture on our globally iconic neon Deco-ized beach, to our sprawling suburban enclaves of the western-most swamps along the Urban Development Lines. The encouraging challenge and bittersweet bane to an eager South Floridian activist is to see these gaps in communities, interests, and possibilities combined into a cohesive effort that proclaims: “This is Miami. Love it.”
So here’s Emerge Miami: a collection of activists, professionals, organizations, and all-around savvy Miamians claiming diverse heritages from the spectrum of municipalities and progressive endeavors. You may have seen them at Hands Across the Sand, professing solidarity against offshore oil drilling on Miami’s behalf. Or maybe you had to wait a few minutes at a US-1 stoplight while they crossed the intersection, leading a small legion of bicyclists clad in homemade superhero costumes in order to promote after school reading programs with local non-profit ComicEd. You may have even seen the photos from Emerge and Beached Miami’s collaboration for the first-ever Miami Bike Hunt, in which riders covered South Beach in a scavenger search, following a list of absurd and distinctly Miamian challenges.
Enthusiastically closing the schism between activism and entertainment, Emerge Miami works towards building a network of progressive initiatives, maintaining its open-mindedness and devotion to community-building all under its founding banner: “Organizing Chaos Since 2005”. In that year, a small cadre teamed up with the freshly-opened Sweat Records to screen The Corporation, a provocative documentary and commentary on industry and human rights abuse. Since then, Emerge has regularly hosted workshops, bike rides, and networking activities to bring Miami’s progressive initiatives together.
Emerge stands by its name by championing “emergent behavior”. Founded on the premise that ideas and voices can be heard while independent of a core organizational hierarchy, Emerge functions with no board of directors or institutional management, and sustains itself on a minimal budget supplemented by donations, volunteerism, and general good will. The group is unincorporated, progressing purely by the combined interests of those who are available to participate in each of its numerous projects.
Observers of any Emerge meeting (held every Tuesday night at Sweat Records) will quickly get both the group’s gist and an insight into what makes the formula work so well. Levity and occasional juvenile humor pervade a tight schedule of reviews, upcoming event plans, and whimsical ponderings on how to cultivate Miami’s emergent potential. New participants and their ideas are always welcome. The camaraderie and productivity intertwine consistently, from preamble and socialization before the meetings start, to dinner on the town after the meeting wraps. All of this demonstrates one of Emerge’s primary tenets: All participants are friends before activists and organizers.
With five years behind us, you might be wondering what is next for Emerge. Well, after half a decade of fun-filled bicycle activism, we think its time for a major celebration. On Saturday, we’re hosting our second annual Sweet Treats Ride, which will feature the best taste bud tourism Miami has to offer, because our ongoing effort to facilitate a community of activism, group organizing, and creative frivolousness is best celebrated with an ice cream cone in one hand and a bike helmet in the other. For full event details, head over to our Facebook page.
In the longer term, Emerge’s future depends a lot on YOUR vision of an emergent Miami. As always, we will be here to help make it a reality.
I culled this list from a more comprehensive one on the The Miami Bike Scene. For the most part, I filtered out the more grueling events and left the ones geared toward the casual and semi-casual cyclist.
7/01 – Miami Bike Polo
The sport of kings with bikes has been attracting a lot of attention lately, with recent press coverage from the Herald, WLRN, and Deco Drive. The MBP crew plays at Jose Marti Park every Friday at 7 p.m. and every Sunday at 1 p.m.
Alphonso is a Cuban cyclist with aspirations of qualifying for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. You can learn more about him in this New York Times profile.
7/09 – Miami Beach Community Ride
“The Miami Beach Community Ride is brought to you by Miami Beach Bicycle Center and the City of Miami Beach. This ride is perfect to meet and greet new people, get exercise, and have a great time. Thanks to the Miami Beach Police, the traffic is stopped and the riders can enjoy a continuous safe ride. At the half way point the riders stop to drink water and take a quick breath. The best thing about the ride is that its FREE! The ride is every second Saturday of the month starting from the store at 9 a.m.”
“Attended the Sweet Treats Ride in June 2010? It’s back! and we’re covering Midtown to South Beach in this round of sweet shops: two ice cream shops and one bakery. Two out of three will have vegan options.”
Miami-Dade police “are looking for a driver who left a man to die on the sidewalk after he hit him with his car,” CBS4 reports.
The driver sideswiped cyclist Francisco Caro, 43, as he rode his bike along N.W. 32nd Avenue around midnight on Sunday. The collision crushed Caro against a fence. A man who claims he witnessed the incident said the driver got out of his car and looked at Caro, who lay dying on the sidewalk, before fleeing the scene.
An excerpt from the CBS4 article:
“He looked back, I thought he was going to come back, he took a couple of steps, then he stopped, he jumped in his car and took off,” said the witness.
Miami-Dade traffic homicide investigators said they recovered chips of paint from the car and an emblem. Police spokesman Det. Roy Rutland said the car they’re looking for will possibly have damage on its right side.
Anyone with information about the accident should call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS.
Click HERE to read the entire CBS4 article and watch a video report.
Friday night’s 14.3 mile Critical Mass through Little Havana, The Roads, Coral Gate, Shenandoah, Brickell and Downtown drew about 500 riders. It also drew Miami-Dade County mayoral candidate Carlos Gimenez, who showed up with a team of supporters at Government Center to smile at young people before the ride started. Gimenez’s presence, as well as the presence of the Red Bull mobile, the “U R Awesome! Free Hugs – High Fives – Peaceful Pounds” contingent (see below), and several other peddlers of this and that (including a couple of annoying guys selling wolf t-shirts), suggests that Miami Critical Mass has made an impression on local politicians and businesses alike. Whether this is a good or bad development remains to be seen, but Friday night it was quite conspicuous.
Meanwhile, Gimenez’s opponent, Julio Robaina, did not make an appearance, but he did send a representative.
Monday afternoon, a social media firestorm was a-brewin’ in the cycling community in response to an article in the South Miami news section of the Miami Herald.
To recap: Bike SoMi, a grassroots initiative whose goal is for South Miami to earn the League of American Bicyclists designation of “Bicycle Friendly”, had organized a bike ride open to all interested cyclists and citizens with the purpose of highlighting areas that could use improvement.
It was to occur Monday night. When the ad hoc leader of this group, architect Mari Chael, presented a list of 700 signatures on a petition and invited members of the City Commission to the ride at an official city meeting last week, City Manager Hector Mirabile declared that the ride would be a “special event” and would therefore require a permit, fees, and a $1,000,000 insurance policy.
Chael was taken aback and, after much shuffling and regrouping, Bike SoMi eventually cancelled the ride.
As a cyclist, a fan of my civil liberties, and a tax-paying citizen of the fair city of South Miami, I was outraged when I first got wind of this news last week. I’ve helped organize dozens of group rides with Emerge Miami for the past several years and never once have we encountered a problem with permits.
But, as I found out this week in meetings with Bike SoMi, the story as presented in the Herald lacks context. The job of the city manager is to watch out for any potential liabilities. If someone were to learn about the bike ride through an “official” city channel — say, meeting minutes or on the city’s cable TV channel, where all meetings are broadcast — and then get hurt on the ride, the city would be 100 percent liable.
Would it be productive for the cyclists and citizens of South Miami if the city had to spend money it does not have on a lawsuit? That’s not how I want my property taxes used.
With that in mind, a group of activists and concerned citizens (some on bikes, others not) met at Sunset Tavern last night to discuss how we should move forward. We were happy to have two city commissioners, Walter Harris and Brian Beasley, join us for the conversation. Both were unwavering in their support of bicycling. Ultimately, we all agreed that the city, local businesses, and residents want to work together to earn official “bicycle friendly” status for South Miami, which, in the past few years, has embraced bicycle initiatives as warmly as any other South Florida city.
Commissioner Beasley shared his draft of a resolution, which he plans on introducing to the city commission in August, that expresses support for making South Miami better for biking and walking and calls for the creation of an advisory committee to work on a bicycle master plan. This is the path that the City of Miami took several years ago, and now we see miles of new bike lanes, sharrows on the streets, “SHARE THE ROAD” street signs, and an environment that, while still a work in progress, has vastly improved bicycling in the City of Miami.
In other words: Cyclists, hold your fire. The City of South Miami is not the enemy. Bike SoMi and the city manager may have gotten off on the wrong foot, but both sides have also learned a great deal in the past two weeks. Better bicycling must involve the city, but the city need not officially endorse every independently organized bike-related event. Citizens and community groups (like Emerge Miami) are free to assemble and ride bikes as they please (in accordance with the laws, of course). Cities can contribute as well, through smart policies and incentives.
Cyclists, let’s be friends with the City of South Miami, not a liability.
Leah Weston is a member of the community activist group Emerge Miami.
I culled this list from a more comprehensive one on the The Miami Bike Scene. For the most part, I filtered out the more grueling events and left the ones geared toward the casual cyclist.
06/02 – Miami Bicycle Summit
06/02 – Loose Cannons
06/11 – Miami Beach Community Ride
06/11 – Emerge Miami CM Meetup
06/24 – Miami Critical Mass
06/26 – 2011 Rosewood Series
06/26 – Bike Miami Rides