SBMA chair and administrator Wilma T. Eisma stresses the need for safety and discipline during a dialogue with bikers. Photo by Malou Dungog
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — A week after several bikers were injured in an illegal bike race here, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and local cycling groups agreed to enforce self-regulation and promote responsible biking in this popular sports tourism destination.
In a meeting with local bikers last Saturday, SBMA chair and administrator Wilma T. Eisma urged for the creation of volunteer marshals who will police the ranks of local cyclists and enforce discipline among their members while biking in Subic.
“These volunteer marshals would be the eyes and ears of your groups to stop illegal bike races here, and they will be deputized by the SBMA,” Eisma said. “They would have direct contact with the SBMA Law Enforcement Department (LED) for better monitoring and speedy action against illegal races.”
The proposed creation of marshals came to light after an illegal bike race was organized by Olongapo City public school teacher Eduardo Velasco Jr. at the San Bernardino Road here on June 19. The “friendly race” took in participants for mountain bike male, road bike female, and road bike male categories for an entry fee of P20 each.
A race video that went viral on social media, however, showed racers overtaking a container truck and a spill involving several bikers as they converged on one lane to overtake the vehicle. A 14-year-old biker was among those reportedly injured.
The SBMA said the organizer did not have any permit for the event and subsequently closed San Bernardino Road to bikers for “wanton disregard of safety among themselves and other motorists, as well as in violation of health protocols being enforced in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.”
In an advisory issued on June 19, Eisma said the reopening of San Bernardino Road to bikers “will be subject to the implementation of proper procedures that will govern such activities.”
“As much as we encourage exercise and other physical activities among stakeholders of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone and take pride that Subic has become a popular destination for biking, we cannot allow activities that may endanger the life and limb of the public while they are inside the SBMA’s jurisdiction,” she added.
During the dialogue with bikers, the SBMA chief reiterated her call for safety and pointed out that only responsible cyclists can prevent a similar accident from happening again.
In the same forum, renowned triathlete coach Melvin Fausto fielded suggestions on rules that will be set for cyclists in the Subic Bay Freeport.
He said that creating bike lanes would not be enough, and that self-discipline would be the key to having a safe and enjoyable bike ride here.
Road bike and mountain bike enthusiasts present during the talks showed great interest in establishing volunteer marshals among their groups. These included 2019 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist John Leerams Chicano, a resident of Olongapo City.
Fausto said that if the Subic community wants to create another gold medalist among the ranks of cyclists who frequent the Subic Bay Freeport, it would be best if they trained properly and in the right venue.