On the last Friday of last month, thousands of bicyclists clogged the streets of Miami and Miami Beach, whizzing along Biscayne Boulevard and over the 79th Street and Venetian causeways as drivers behind them were stuck in traffic jams that lasted up to two hours.
People couldnt get home from work, parents couldnt get home to their kids, and emergency vehicles couldnt get to their destinations.
Causing such frustration for drivers on the road is exactly the intent of some participants in Critical Mass, an international movement with a strong local presence.
The cycle activists want drivers to share the road with bikes, and cities to invest in special bike lanes where they can ride safely.
We are entitled to use the road just like motor vehicles, bicyclist Rydel Deed wrote in an email to the Miami Herald. However, we are honked at, run off the road on a daily basis.
Deed runs the website themiamibikescene.com, which posts routes for the monthly Critical Mass rides.
Once we get treated with respect from all motorists, he said, then we wont need Critical Mass.
As many as 3,000 bicyclists are expected to converge after work Friday evening at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center in downtown Miami, before heading out at 7:15 p.m. for their 11-mile ride through Little Havana.
This months route its different each time will take riders west on Calle Ocho just as the monthly Cultural Viernes festival gets under way, to the edge of Coral Gables and then back east on Coral Way.
The rides, held on the last Friday of every month, typically last an hour.
But for commuters trying to get home after a hard week at work, its an hour of angst.
Critical Mass totally screws up the commute, said Miami Beach resident John Felder, who has been stuck behind the ride several times heading home from work. Traffic is just stuck there until theyre completely gone.
The Critical Mass tradition started in San Francisco in 1992, where a few dozen cyclists held the first ride, calling it Commute Clot and riding to raise motorists awareness of cyclists rights to the road.
With less than 100 cyclists, that ride didnt do much clotting. But the Critical Mass rides soon grew, prompting complaints from drivers, and, sometimes, arrests from police officers.
Its also led to a number of injuries. During a Critical Mass ride in Brazil in 2011, a driver behind the wheel of a Volkswagen plowed into the stream of cyclists from behind, injuring 40.
South Florida cyclists started meeting for Critical Mass in Miami on the last Friday of each month in May 2007, said Deed.
Since then, the ride has drawn celebrities like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
But some drivers say the Critical Mass cyclists asking motorists to share the road arent sharing it themselves.
The cyclists often ride in a chaotic shoulder-to-shoulder pack instead of single file or two abreast, blocking one or more lanes.
They dont stop for red-lights, so drivers at an intersection sometimes have to wait through green light after green light while the cyclists pass through.
If these riders stopped at every red light and rode two abreast as required by law, then the citizens would really see what real gridlock we can legally cause, Deed said.