Montreal Cyclists Pay Homage to Fallen Riders
Downtown Demonstration Calls for Safer Roads, “Die-in” Held
Cyclists came out in numbers to Philips Square Saturday afternoon in memory of riders who have lost their lives on Montreal roads.
The objective of the event was also to highlight the need for infrastructure for safer cycling.
The event began in downtown Montreal, with many people sporting white clothing to signify a collective desire to see Montreal become a safer city for cyclists. Participants rode off amidst loud chants of, “À nous la rue! À nous la rue!”
The route passed in front of several “ghost bikes”—bikes painted white and mounted along the roadside to honour a cyclist that has been killed. The latest of these “ghost bikes” was for 18-year-old cyclist Clément Ouimet, who was killed after colliding with an SUV on Oct. 4. His death marked the fourth cyclist death on the streets of Montreal over the past three months.
Along the way, a “die-in” was also staged. Riders lay down, sprawled out in the middle of the road alongside their bikes, to resemble dead cyclists on the streets. “We hope that this [die-in] will just be a simulation and that we’ll never have to place-up ghost bikes again,” said Gabrielle Anctil of Vélos Fantôme Montréal, who helped organize the event.
A number of cyclists at the event said they fear trucks the most.
“There is a lot of negligence. […] We get the impression that [truck drivers] don’t care about us,” said Jean-Paul Gagné, a cyclist there.
Although he has never been in an accident, he says he’s had many close calls. “What I’d like to see is more development done, so we can cycle in safety.”
In light of the upcoming municipal elections, organizers of the event said they hope it will encourage whichever party is elected to tighten up on road safety for cyclists.
“We ask the future elected of the city of Montreal to do everything to increase the number of people who travel by foot or by bike,” said Anctil, in a speech before the event. “For this, a secure and pleasant environment must be created, which encourages people to cycle, to walk or to use public transit.”
Mayoral candidates Valérie Plante and Denis Coderre have both discussed plans concerning road safety for cyclists.
If elected, Plante plans to build a “secure bike express network” in Montreal. She says it’ll provide “140 km of secure cycle paths spread over 7 busy roads for cycling traffic.”