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Montreal's ghost bike group marks 10 years, goes provincewide

The organization that installs white bicycles in memory of cyclists who have died in Montreal over the past ten years is going provincewide.

Vélo fantôme Montréal (Ghost Bike Montreal) has now become Souliers et vélos fantôme Québec (Ghost Shoes and Bikes Quebec), or SVFQ. From now on, memorials will be created in remembrance of pedestrians and cyclists fatally struck all over Quebec.

On September 12, 2013, the organization installed its first white bicycle in memory of Suzanne Châtelain, a cyclist who died in July of that year in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal after being run over.

Over the past 10 years, more than 20 white bicycles have been set up in Greater Montreal at the exact spot where a cyclist died in a collision. 

In memory of the person, and with the agreement of their loved ones, the collective installs a symbol to provoke reflection on the dangers associated with driving motorized vehicles, while commemorating the life of the victim.

"We are calling for safe developments, regulations that protect the most vulnerable on the road and less dangerous designs of trucks and cars," explained one of the organization's spokespeople, Séverine Lepage, at a news briefing in Montreal.

On Tuesday morning, volunteers from Souliers et vélos fantôme Québec placed 645 pairs of white shoes, for the same number of pedestrians killed on Quebec roads in the last 10 years, in front of the Montreal offices of Transport Minister Geneviève Guilbault at the intersection of René-Lévesque Blvd. West and Beaver Hall Hill.

"In the ten years since we installed the white bikes, over 645 pedestrians have died as a result of road violence in Quebec. Adding those injured, that makes 26,000 victims," said Shanti L-Larochelle, another SVFQ spokesperson.

The organization is also launching a socio-financing campaign to enable it to expand its activities across Quebec, which were previously run on a volunteer basis and at lower cost.

"We want the ceremonies and everything that goes with them to remain free of charge for families, for loved ones, forever," said SVFQ spokesperson Laurent Deslauriers.

The organization has already received a $7,500 contribution from the Caisse d'économie solidaire Desjardins through its community development fund.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Sept. 12, 2023 Top Stories


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