05/02/2014 11:26 EDT | Updated 07/02/2014 05:59 EDT

Mathilde Blais cycling death spurs calls for safer crossings

Some Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie residents are calling for better solutions to the underpass issue after 33-year-old cyclist Mathilde Blais was killed earlier this week.

Blais died after being struck by a large crane truck travelling under an overpass at St-Denis Boulevard just south of Rosemont Boulevard. She was wearing a helmet and cycling on a Bixi.

The borough put up a sign at the overpass where Blais died early Friday morning indicating that both cyclists and pedestrians are permitted to use the sidewalk.

Rosemont councillor Marc-André Gadoury said the borough is looking to permit cyclists to use the sidewalk under all overpasses on its territory.

He said the rule change means police should not ticket cyclists travelling on sidewalks unless they are behaving in a way that endangers pedestrians.

“I feel very sad that it took this death for that kind of action,” said Mistaya Hemingway, a Rosemont resident and member of a group calling for level crossings.

Hemingway told CBC Daybreak host Mike Finnerty on Friday that she always bikes on the sidewalk when travelling under overpasses, specifically the ones at De Lorimier Avenue and St-Laurent Boulevard.

“I often have my child on the back of my seat and one time going under De Lorimier, the police were ticketing. When he saw that I had a child on the back of my seat, he said, ‘Oh it’s OK,’ and of course I appreciated that but I thought, why is each life not just as equal?” Hemingway said.

Still, she said cyclists have a responsibility to go slowly when travelling alongside pedestrians on sidewalks.

Resident Claude Lebeuf agreed with Hemingway, and said that Rosemont’s proposition is a good short-term solution to the issue; however, she said, “There’s more to do.”

Difficulty crossing tracks

Canadian Pacific Railway lines cut across parts of the city in various neighbourhoods, making it difficult for cyclists to get around.

Lebeuf said many of Montreal’s intersections need to be revisited.

“There’s a lot of situations where the mentalities are not updated to the reality. There’s more bicycles, there’s more cars, and the street crossing are designed like they were 40 years ago,” she said. “So there are a lot of things to reconsider.”

A ghost bike — a bike painted all in white as a memorial to cyclists who died in road accidents — will be left under the overpass at St-Denis and Des Carrières early Monday morning to mark Blais’s death.