Story of Manila’s ‘ghost bike’: A 2016 road rage incident that turned murderous

March 19, 2021 - 10:58 PM
A photo of the ghost bike along a street in Manila (First Bike Ride/Released)

A cycling advocacy group recounted a case of road rage between a motorist and a cyclist in Manila which made national headlines in 2016 and inspired a curious installation.

In a Facebook post on March 16, the group named First Bike Ride shared the story behind what has been called “ghost bike,” an unmanned bicycle sculpture installed along P. Casal in Manila to raise awareness on road safety among cyclists.

The installation used to include a sign that read “peace and respect.”

“There’s a white bicycle that catches the attention of those who pass along P. Casal Street in Manila. It looks fascinating because everything, from the wheels to the handlebar, is painted in one color,” the post read.

Comments on the popular post were messages on how much the event made an impact on people’s lives.

What happened before

The ghost bike was placed in the memory of Mark Vincent Garalde, who was gunned down by a former Army reservist named Vhon Tanto after an argument that turned sour.

The incident, which was caught on CCTV, happened on July 25, 2016.

The footage showed Tanto and Garalde were fighting after the former nearly hit the latter’s bicycle. It later turned into a brawl, and then a shooting.

One female student was also reportedly injured by a stray bullet.

“This is perhaps one of the most shocking cases of road rage in the Philippines, a news that caught national attention,” the post read.

“There was a manhunt that followed, with people on social media being proactive in the search of finding justice for the death of the cyclist. Tanto’s car was found abandoned in Nueva Vizcaya and he was arrested in Milagros, Masbate four days after the murder,” it added.

In August 2019, the Manila Regional Trial Court convicted Tanto for murder with a life sentence for Garalde’s death.

The court also ordered him to pay the victim’s family “P1.48 million in actual damages, P100,000 as civil indemnity, P100,000 for moral damages, and another P100,000 for exemplary damages.”

First Bike Ride noted that road rage is common on the road, citing bikers being harassed by motorists and even getting intentionally hit.

“It’s alarming and an obvious display of arrogance: bikers are harassed through aggressive honking, getting intentionally hit by bigger vehicles and the worst that could happen is ending up dead,” the group said.

Garalde’s case should remind the public that no life should be sacrificed over inconveniences on the road, the group said. It added.

“P. Casal’s ghost bike is a reminder that this incident shouldn’t happen again and respect on the road must always take place. At the end of the day, we all want to be safe in reaching our destinations. Life matters, always.”