Montreal cyclists come together to remember young rider after tragic death
Camillien-Houde Way is one of the most popular training routes for Montreal cyclists because it provides a challenging climb up and over Mount Royal. On Oct. 6, hundreds of cyclists clipped into their pedals at the base of the trail—not to train, but to honour 18-year-old Clément Ouimet.
On Oct. 4, Ouimet was descending the mountain, just south of the Belvedere lookout, when he collided with an SUV. The driver of the SUV made an illegal U-turn in front of the cyclist. Unable to stop, Ouimet hit the vehicle and was rushed to hospital with head injuries. He died later that night.
The driver remained at the scene and did not sustain any injuries. No charges have been made, but police said the investigation is ongoing.
Ouimet’s death shocked the cycling community. Espoirs Élite Primeau, the Laval cycling club Ouimet was a part of, wrote on their Facebook page: “No words can describe all the pain and distress we are experiencing right now.”
According to CBC News, fellow cyclist Édouard Beaudoin wrote on the team’s Facebook page that he was “devastated” by the accident.
“Knowing that Clément died doing what he loves, it completely destroys me. No one should meet death practicing their favourite sport,” Beaudoin wrote.
Benoit Tessier did not know Ouimet personally, but had heard of him through the cycling community. Tessier said he felt it was important to attend the memorial ride to pay his respects. “He was a good cyclist and had good potential. He was just too young to die,” Tessier said.
After a moment of silence, members of Espoirs Élite Primeau led the silent memorial ride up the winding Camillien-Houde path. The two-kilometre climb ended at the parking lot near Beaver Lake.
Many individuals in the cycling community are demanding that the city do something to make Mount Royal safer for cyclists. Jacques Wiseman frequently rides up Mount Royal. “I do it myself, but I never descend because I always expect an accident going down,” he said. “It’s not secure enough. I think a wall [between the two lanes] or something must be installed.”
Cyclist Patrick Vanpeorgh agreed and said more protection is needed all the way up the route. He suggested the barrier separating the car lanes should be extended up the mountain, to prevent cars from making U-turns.
Wiseman said he is appalled by the amount of car traffic on the mountain, calling it a “tourist trap.”
“It’s too easy and too fast for cars to cross the mountain. It’s basically a highway on the mountain with bikes,” he said.
“It’s a big safety concern,” Wiseman added. “It must be addressed soon. It’s an easy and cheap fix in my mind.”
In a post on Twitter, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said he would create a group to study the area and determine whether Camillien-Houde Way should continue to be accessible to cars crossing Mount Royal. According to Coderre, the group would consist of organizations such as Vélo Québec, Amis de la montagne, Table concertation du Mont-Royal and the Conseil du patrimoine de Montréal.
“A death is one too many. An accident is one too many, and we have to take care of that,” Coderre said.
A photo of the young, promising cyclist was hung alongside medals and race numbers on the traffic light at the bottom of the hill where the memorial ride started. Underneath, bouquets of flowers were piled on top of one another, surrounding the pole.
Photo by Kenneth Gibson