With the Legislature working on laying out harsher punishments on hit-and-run suspects and the justice system cracking down on this guy, it's time once again to strap on the helmet, grab your bike, and hit up the streets of Fort Lauderdale with your brothers and sisters in bicycling to celebrate the freedom of riding and safety The ride welcomes riders of all ages, types, and levels of experience.
Fort Lauderdale Critical Mass is a once-a-month ride through the city that goes down on the last Friday of every month, and as the calendar tells us, that day is today.
For those who don't know and who maybe freak out a little seeing a mass of people on bikes all at once, Critical Mass is a celebration of riding -- a way to raise awareness that bicycle riders have a right to the road too.
So, if you want to join in because you have a passion for cycling -- or if you want to avoid the horde of people on bicycles -- here's what you need to know.
As ever, Fort Lauderdale Critical Mass will get kicked off at 7 p.m. at the War Memorial Auditorium, located at 800 NE Eighth St. in Fort Lauderdale.
From there, cyclists take a leisurely ride (it's not a race!) through a 14-mile route around the city, riding at around 12 miles per hour.
Once again, it's not a race. And it's important to keep in mind that there are rules involved in being a part of the fun.
After all, Critical Masses are about promoting safety, particularly in South Florida, where bike accidents happen pretty frequently and where drivers and cyclists have a history of not liking each other very much.
Some of the key rules -- outside of basic common sense -- include not overriding the group by sticking to the pace, wearing no headphones, making sure your bike has the proper safety lights (per Florida law), communicating with your fellow riders (if you're gonna pass someone, give them a holler), and if you need to stop for any reason, making sure you pull off away from the rest of the cyclists.
Here's a handy-dandy list of current Florida bicycle laws.
Being a part of Critical Mass means you're there to promote safety, which isn't always the case.
Just this past January, Fort Lauderdale Critical Mass organizer Ray Strack was struck by a car (not during a Critical Mass ride) and was hospitalized with cuts on his head and a fracture of the T9 vertebrae in his back.
The trial of a man who hit a cyclist and then dumped his body in the woods in Fort Lauderdale is set to begin in the coming months.
So, again, the name of the game is safety. And fun.
So, be safe out there. And drivers, be aware of cyclists.
For more info on tonight's ride, you can visit the Fort Lauderdale Critical Mass Facebook page.
Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph.
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