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Tempers flare as bridge run postponed
The last running event over the iconic Rama VIII cable-stayed bridge was the Bangkok Marathon on Nov 19. (Photo FB/Bkkmarathon)
November 30th, 2017 | 09:35 AM | 1498 views
Organisers cancelled an international running event planned for the iconic Rama VIII Bridge this Saturday after the Metropolitan Police Bureau refused to licence the race because of traffic concerns.
The cancellation came after a Bangkok Post report on tonnes of garbage left on the bridge during the Bangkok Marathon 2017 earlier this month. The report said it took hours to clean the bridge enough to reopen it for traffic.
The organisers of the now-cancelled weekend race posted this message on their web page.
"We are sorry to inform you that the race originally scheduled on 2 December 2017 (this Saturday) has to be rescheduled due to the recently announced policy from the Thai Police Traffic Official that recommends against the organising of running events in central Bangkok to avoid heavy traffic congestion."
The announcement claimed organisers were "working closely with the authorities to secure an alternative date and venue" and promised an update by Wednesday, Dec 6.
Pol Col Theera Thayraphat, commander of the Traffic Police Division 1 under the Metropolitan Police Bureau, said police had to refuse permission to the organiser of the ASICS Relay Bangkok 2017 for fear that it might worsen traffic.
The event which was supposed to start at 11pm on Saturday coincides with a graduation ceremony at Thammasat University which starts earlier the same night.
"We have permitted this organiser to hold the same event before. But we need to make such decisions case by case. The police want to promote healthy activities but we need to make sure traffic on Rama VIII is not interrupted because this bridge is a major route linking Bangkok with highways to nearby provinces," said Pol Col Theera.
"The problem is most such organisers sell their tickets well before getting permits from the authorities. Runners should beware of that," he said adding the police have advised the organiser to postpone the event.
On their social media website, the organiser of the ASICS Relay Bangkok 2017 made a public apology and promised to inform registered runners of the postponed schedule next Wednesday. ASIC Relay is an up-and-coming running event in Southeast Asia. The event has been held in Jakarta, Kuala Lampur, Singapore and Bangkok.
In Bangkok, the event has been held since last year at the Rama VIII Bridge. The race has two categories -- the half marathon (21.1km) and full marathon (42.195km). The registration fee per team is around 2,800 baht or 3,200 baht, with each team having four runners.
One registered runner under the name Daisuke Kimura posted on the social media site that the organiser should have informed runners earlier that it had not received a permit. "Three days before the race is pretty embarrassing," the runner wrote.
The sudden cancellation of the event showcases the problems with space-sharing between traffic and recreational activities in Bangkok. The Metropolitan Police Bureau has been getting more and more requests to use roads in Bangkok for running events. The most popular spot is the iconic cable-stayed Rama VIII Bridge, owing to its famous architecture and view of the river.
Every week for the past few years, the bridge has been closed for running events, mostly on Sunday mornings and sometimes from Saturday night onwards for night races. On Nov 12, the day after the Bangkok Marathon, police were unable to reopen the bridge to traffic because the organiser of the race could not clear away the garbage that had piled up.
While runners were angry over the permit refusal for the ASICS Relay Bangkok, police are standing their ground. But some people are happy with the decision. One resident living near the bridge praised police for acting "sensibly". Race events cause traffic congestion, and the bridge ends up being closed every week, she said.
courtesy of BANGKOK POST
by Supoj Wancharoen & Anchalee Kongrut
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