Mathilde Blais remembered in ghost bike ceremony

Mathilde Blais, the 33-year-old cyclist killed in a collision with a transport truck last week, was commemorated Monday in a ghost bike ceremony at the site of the accident on St-Denis Street.

All-white bike installed at scene of last week's fatal collision between Blais and transport truck

A ghost bike installed at the site of a collision in an underpass on St-Denis Street.
A ghost bike is installed at the site of last week's fatal accident in an underpass on St-Denis Street. (Salimah Shivji/CBC)

Mathilde Blais, the 33-year-old cyclist killed in a collision with a transport truck last week, was remembered Monday in an early morning ceremony at the site of the accident on St-Denis Street.

Organizers placed a white "ghost bike" at the site of the accident, under the railway overpass just south of Rosemont Boulevard.

Around 100 people, many on their bicycles, took part in the ceremony, which closed the street during part of the morning rush hour.

Blais was killed last Monday around 6:40 a.m. when a truck transporting a crane collided with her as she biked under the Des Carrières overpass. Blais fell under the wheels of the truck and was killed instantly, emergency officials said.

Blais was a speech therapist at Ludger-Duvernay primary school in St-Henri. She was an avid cyclist, but always worried about the underpass, her mother said.

Mathilde Blais (Facebook)

The narrow underpass is widely considered one of the most dangerous spots for cyclists in the city.

Following the accident, the borough of Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie took steps to facilitate the sharing of the sidewalk next to the underpass between cyclists and pedestrians. The sidewalks have been divided in two with a white line.

In a note read to those attending Monday's ghost bike ceremony, Blais's mother, Geneviève Laborde, described her daughter as vibrant, full of life and dedicated to cycling. She applauded the organizers' efforts to create "a more secure future" for the city's cyclists.

Gabrielle Anctil, one of the ceremony's organizers, said the accident has had a profound impact.

"For cyclists, it strikes a chord. We’ve all been in these viaducts, we all knew that it was dangerous. It’s a sad event because we have been asking for better measures, for better infrastructure in the viaducts and all over the city," she told CBC Radio's Daybreak.

Anctil said the ghost bike is intended to both keep Blais's memory alive and serve as a reminder of the need for better bike safety measures.

“We want to make sure that it’s not forgotten, but we also want people to think about this. The problem will still be there, the safety in viaducts will still be there until we finally do something, until we review the Highway Safety Code," she said.

A second ceremony will also scheduled for Monday evening at 6 p.m. at the site of the accident. 

Ghost bikes mark the spot where cyclists have been killed in traffic accidents and serve as reminders of the dangers cyclists face on city streets. Organizers hope city officials will allow the bike to remain in place for as long possible.

Blais's funeral is scheduled for Tuesday in Quebec City.

Signs were put up at the overpass where Mathilde Blais died earlier last week. The signs replace posts that had been put up to dissuade cyclists from using the sidewalk. (Jay Turnbull/CBC)