In a ceremony on Sunday, for the first time ever, a Montreal ghost bike was removed from its location.
White ‘ghost’ bikes are installed around the cities to commemorate a place where a cyclist has been killed, and will normally stay as a permanent reminder to motorists to share the road.
The bike in question was the first ghost bike in Montreal, installed seven years ago to commemorate Mathilde Blais, a 33-year-old cyclist who died in a collision with a transport truck in the Saint-Denis Street underpass near Rosemont Avenue.
Calls for change
Blais’ death sparked calls for the city to make the underpass safer for cyclists and the bike was striking visual reminder that the road was not safe. This year, as part of the recently completed Réseau Express Vélo on Saint-Denis, the city built a dedicated bike lane with a separated cement barrier along the dangerous segment.
On May 2, a ceremony was held to remove the bicycle, which will now be displayed in the Musée de la civilisation de Québec in Quebec City. A plaque was installed in place of the bike near the underpass. Advocates say the bike was removed to “highlight the ongoing risk cyclists face, but also to recognize the progress that has been made.”
Blais’ mother, Geneviève Laborde, who was part of the ceremony, was the one to suggest that the ghost bike be relocated to the museum. She said that the bike will be displayed as a “symbol of social change.”
Vélo Fantôme, the advocacy group that marks the spot of fatal accidents with a ghost bike, has installed 10 bikes around Montreal since 2013. Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who attended the ceremony, said that there have been 300 significant collisions between cars, pedestrians and cyclists on Saint-Denis Street since 2014. “Let’s stop fighting about who the road belongs to,” Plante told CBC. “It belongs to everyone, but we need safety measures to protect the most vulnerable and the most vulnerable are pedestrians and cyclists.”