The completely painted white bike was installed on May 5, 2014 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. Vélo Fantôme (Ghost Bike Montreal), a cycling advocacy group, has since made it a common practice in Montreal to mark the scene of fatal accidents with a white bicycle. There are 10 more in and around town.
The ghost bike marking the death of Blais will eventually be exhibited in a museum in Quebec, the Musée de la civilization de Quebec. A plaque will be placed near the underground passage on rue Saint-Denis.
Blais’ death prompted the city to make the narrow underpass safer for cyclists. The city finally built a dedicated cycle path separated by a cement barrier, part of the recently completed Réseau Express Vélo in Saint-Denis.
It was Blais’ mother, Geneviève Laborde, who suggested that the bike be displayed in a museum. “I never considered this bike to be mine. I see it as a symbol, ”she said.
Laborde added: “It’s difficult to be here today, but I’m proud to be here because it signals progress. “
Séverine Le Page, spokesperson for Vélo Fantôme, said the ghost bike campaign had pushed the city to act.
“I think that has a big part to play because it’s visual,” Le Page said of the haunting white bikes.
“We see them all over town [now], Unfortunately. Seeing a ghost bike reminds you that this is a conversation we must continue to have with our city and with all levels of government. ”
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante and Federal Minister of Heritage Steven Guilbeault attended the ceremony on Sunday.
Plante said there have been 300 major collisions between cars, pedestrians and cyclists on Saint-Denis Street since 2014.
“Let’s stop fighting over who owns the road. It belongs to everyone, but we need security measures to protect the most vulnerable and the most vulnerable are pedestrians and cyclists, ”she said.