Montrealers have not forgotten Mathilde Blais, this cyclist fatally struck by a vehicle in 2014 at the age of 33.
• Read also: Touching testimonials for Mathilde Blais
More than 200 people came out on Sunday to commemorate the withdrawal of the ghost bike installed in his image under the Carrières viaduct, on Saint-Denis Street in Montreal, the place of the aforementioned tragedy.
Mathilde’s mother, Geneviève Aborde, gave a short emotional testimony during the commemoration. “I am happy to know that you will be able to ride in complete safety [grâce au Réseau express vélo]”, did she say.
The organization behind the ceremony, Ghost Bike, believes the newly implanted REV could have avoided this tragedy. “If the development had existed in 2014, Mathilde would still be alive,” said the co-spokesperson for the organization, Shanti Larochelle.
To this end, the organization would like to extend its field of action and campaign for the implementation of safe facilities for pedestrians. The collective would also like to get out of Montreal more and install ghost bikes all over Quebec, although this requires more funding and a larger team.
The white bicycle, withdrawn to underline the improvement made by the REV in the eyes of Vélo fantôme, will be replaced by a commemorative plaque in memory of Mathilde Blais. The bike will be kept at the Musée de la civilization in Quebec, the city where Mathilde lived.
François Carignan, the brother of Bernard Carignan, a cyclist who died in August 2015 after a collision with a vehicle, saw the removal of the bicycle in a different light.
“When I heard that we were going to remove Mathilde’s white bike, I didn’t agree. For me and my family, the white bicycle represents our mourning and the acceptance of it, ”he said during the ceremony.
“I find that it is a bit heavy price to pay and that Mathilde’s family, mine and all those who have lost someone by bike, still pay”, he continued.
Mr. Carignan however welcomes the initiative taken by the City to keep the REV on Saint-Denis, despite strong criticism.
Since 2013, 11 ghost bikes have been installed in Montreal and the surrounding area.
Several politicians took part in the ceremony, including Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, Metropolitan Minister Chantal Rouleau and Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbault.
The mayor considers it essential to maintain the REV and called on the other political parties on the list for the Montreal municipal elections to commit to keeping it.
“It’s a question of safety,” she said, pointing out that since 2014, 300 collisions between motorists and cyclists or pedestrians have occurred.
“Dismantling the REV is putting the lives of citizens on foot or by bicycle in danger”, judges Ms. Plante.