The originators of Montreal’s many “Ghost Bike” tributes have broken new ground, unveiling their inaugural pair of “ghost shoes” in a poignant moment of remembrance for Fabienne Houde-Bastien.
On a dark day in May 2023, the life of 31-year-old Houde-Bastien was extinguished in an instant. She was crossing the intersection of Saint-Laurent Blvd. and Jean-Talon St. when an allegedly drunk and hasty driver veered toward her.
This Sunday, against the backdrop of this tragic scene, her family mourned as the group Vélo fantôme presented a pair of immaculate white shoes. “Choosing to walk home should not equate to a death sentence,” expressed Jean-Francois Rheault, the President and Director-General of Vélo-Quebec.
This heartbreaking ceremony marked the 23rd memorial orchestrated by the group. However, it was the first of its type dedicated to a pedestrian victim. According to Vélo fantôme, pedestrian fatalities on Quebec roads skyrocketed to 79 last year, a troubling escalation of 44% from the previous year.
“There has been a drastic upswing in pedestrian deaths over the last decade, a phenomenon not exclusive to Quebec but noted across the United States and Canada,” observed Murphy-Perron. “As vehicles grow increasingly wide and patience increasingly thin, the situation is exacerbated.” Urging for immediate intervention, Perron supports the implementation of traffic-calming measures at the notorious intersection where Houde-Bastien’s life was tragically cut short.
The driver implicated in her death reportedly had a blood-alcohol level that was triple the legal limit. “We ardently advocate for Quebec’s alignment with the broader Canadian standard. It remains a grim reality that Quebec is the sole Canadian province where a blood-alcohol threshold of .08 is permissible as opposed to .05,” he said.
The matter has drawn attention from Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, Member of the National Assembly, who asserts that the issue deserves further deliberation. “There are influential voices across Quebec calling to re-open this debate. It is unfortunate that Minister Guilbault swiftly snuffed out these discussions,” he emphasized.
Such agonizing events, mused the MNAs, should not blight Montreal’s landscape in 2023. Ensemble Montreal member Alba Zuniga Ramos echoed the sentiment, urging collective effort to prevent such occurrences.
“Collaboration is the key to safeguarding our communities from such tragedy,” Ramos affirmed. “We must work hand in hand to ensure scenes like this do not reoccur.”