As It Happens

Late cyclist's family grapples with Ottawa's proposed roadside memorial policy

The city of Ottawa has released a report recommending that a 90-day limit be put on impromptu memorials for victims of traffic accidents. Brent Nacu is the brother of Danielle Nacu. She was killed while cycling in 2011.
Participants in the October 11, 2014 ride to mark the anniversary of Danielle Nacu's death left flowers at the ghost bike left in her honour. CBC

It was 2011 when someone opened the car door, knocking cyclist Danielle Nacu into oncoming traffic on an Ottawa street. 

Soon after her death, an impromptu memorial was set up on the street in Ottawa: a bike that had been painted white.

Memorials like these are called "ghost bikes."

But, a new report could change how long they stay up. The city of Ottawa has just released a report proposing that a three-month limit be put on these spontaneous memorials.

Brent Nacu is Danielle's brother. As It Happens host Carol Off got his reaction to the proposal.

Here is an excerpt from their conversation:

Danielle Nacu was cycling along Ottawa's Queen Street when she was struck and killed. (Facebook)

Carol Off: Brent, what do you think about this idea from Ottawa city council that they should put a limit on the time for memorials like the one for your sister?

Brent Nacu: I have mixed emotions … As a family member that has lost a loved one, it's hard for me to come to grips with the fact that there's such a prevalence of ghost bikes. The second part I'm kind of on the fence with is how do you set a term? Whether it's a politician or a judiciary, I don't know how you put a term on grieving.

The ghost bike did not just serve our family, but it really served the community as a focal point for grieving.- Brent Nacu, brother of Danielle Nacu

CO: They're saying that [memorials] can be hazards, that they can obstruct views, that they can be a distraction or cause another accident. What do you make of the many reasons that they're giving for the problems they have with the memorials?

BN: What I would say is that it's a bit of a dichotomy for me … People who were involved in the actual accident would come to the memorial and cry ...The ghost bike did not just serve our family, but it really served the community as a focal point for grieving … But, as a businessman, I also understand how there could be another side of the story. It could be a disruption to commerce. It could be located in front of someone's store or business...I can understand, very clearly, both sides of the issue.

CO: They seem to be understanding that these are extremely important things for people, while at the same time trying to figure out this balance with safety.

BN: I think it would make a lot more sense if there was a centralized location that we could gather at. In fact, that's been something we've been working on with the city of Ottawa … We're going to build a national cycling monument which is going to be both a testament to the art and spirit of cycling, while at the same time a memorial. The idea is in motion.