For its tenth anniversary, Vélo Fantôme is expanding its mandate and scope. The organization will now install memorials for cyclists as well as pedestrians and above all, it will do so throughout the province. A crowdfunding campaign was launched this Tuesday to support the group’s new mission.
With a renewed name, Souliers et Vélos phantoms Québec wishes to better highlight the seriousness and multiplication of human tragedies in terms of road safety. The white shoes will be installed at intersections where pedestrians die after a collision, as has already been the case for several years with ghost bikes.
This all comes ten years to the day after the installation of the first ghost bike, in memory of the cyclist Suzanne Châtelain, who died following a car crash on July 18, 2013 at the corner of avenue du Parc and of rue Saint-Viateur.
“We will also now cover all of Quebec. We hope that all those affected can receive support,” explained the organization’s spokesperson, Séverine Lepage, during a press scrum in front of the offices of Transport Minister Geneviève Guilbault.
The minister, who presented her National Road Safety Strategy two weeks ago, also welcomed the organization’s approach on Tuesday, through her office. In Montreal, Mayor Valérie Plante’s entourage also spoke of “a necessary gesture that reiterates the importance that must be given to all of the most vulnerable users.”
A tribute activity was also held Tuesday at the corner of Beaver Hall Hill and René-Lévesque Boulevard. Some 645 white shoes were placed at the intersection, under police surveillance, in memory of the 645 pedestrians who lost their lives in the last decade. During the same period, 115 cyclists were mowed down by motorists.
By counting the injured people, “we arrive at 26,000 victims in 10 years,” said another spokesperson, Shanti Larochelle. “We do not accept this road violence. Behind every death, there are loved ones who are devastated. Today we are showing them once again our solidarity,” she insisted.
Call for donations
Who says new mandate, says new spending. To support its mission, Souliers et Vélos phantoms Québec launched an online crowdfunding campaign on Tuesday on the Zeffy platform, with the objective of raising up to $20,000.
The organization says its expenses will increase substantially due to its transformation, which will notably involve installing memorials outside Greater Montreal and, possibly, hiring more staff. Until now, everything had been managed entirely on a voluntary basis.
A contribution of $7,500 has already been offered by the Caisse d’ économique solidaire Desjardins, through its Community Development Assistance Fund.
This all comes nearly three months after a devastating report from the Société de l’assurance automobile (SAAQ) which revealed that 392 people died on the roads of Quebec, an increase of approximately 13% in one year, but above all, a high in almost a decade.
Over-represented in collision statistics, pedestrians represented one in five deaths in 2022, while the number of collisions involving heavy goods vehicles was also increasing markedly. Last year alone, 79 pedestrians lost their lives on Quebec roads.
A reminder to decision-makers
For the general director of Piétons Québec, Sandrine Cabana-Degani, the new mandate of Souliers et Vélos phantoms comes at the right time. “For us, it’s really good news that this service can be offered to families, since unfortunately, we know that there will still be pedestrian deaths in the coming years,” she said.
“It happened that families approached us to hold a commemoration, but often we did not have the capacity to respond to all the requests. There, we will have a beautiful way of showing that there are human tragedies behind the figures,” adds M.me Degani.
For ten years, recalls the DG, Vélo Fantôme “has made it possible to get municipal administrations moving”. “Having white shoes in public spaces will remind decision-makers of the importance of making safe arrangements, and motorists to exercise caution. »
The CEO of Vélo Québec, Jean-François Rheault, also applauded the news on Tuesday. “We are happy to see the work of Souliers et Vélos phantoms Québec commemorating pedestrian deaths as well as the coverage that now extends across all of Quebec. The duty of remembrance is essential to remind us that our objective must always be road safety,” he said.