Montreal cyclists mourn with a 'Climb 4 Clément'

The wind in the trees, a police helicopter overhead and the clicking of hundreds of cycling shoes on the pavement was all you could hear as some four hundred Montreal-area cyclists held a moment of silence for Clément Ouimet.

The 18-yr-old was struck and killed by an SUV making an illegal u-turn on Mont Royal right where cyclists launched Friday’s memorial ride.

Marc-Antoine Desjardins is one of the people who helped organize the “Climb for Clément,” as a few people were calling it. He says bad decision-making and driver-carelessness are too often to blame for cycling deaths in the city.

“Any given Sunday, any given Saturday, you get tens of cars making u-turns right in front of you (on Mont Royal),” said Desjardins. “You can have guards every ten feet. If a guy decides to make a u-turn he will make a u-turn.”

The death of Clément Ouimet wasn’t because the hill is dangerous, but because a driver illegally cut him off.

“We have ways to get the traffic slower,” said Desjardins. “Maybe decree this is a ‘scenic road’ like some other roads are in the world. To make sure people are getting slower. No u-turns and things like that.”

From the visible outpouring of emotions in the crowd it was clear Ouimet was loved and respected by all who knew him.

“We are just destroyed. There are no other words for it,” said one of Ouimet’s friends. “It’s just so unfair that this happened.”

“It’s just not right. ‘Why him?’ That’s the question everyone’s asking,” said another. “‘He deserved none of this.”

A cycling-Mom who knew Ouimet said he was an up-and-comer in the Quebec and Canadian cycling world. His friends agreed.

“He’d been all over the world, that guy...and he had a good competitive ranking too,” said a friend. “He had a future in cycling."

According to Desjardins the kind of bad driving that took Ouimet’s young life is an even bigger  problem in beautiful weather. Drivers become more focussed on enjoying the scenery of the mountain and pay less attention on the road in front of them.

That’s some food for thought as many of us sit down to a family Thanksgiving dinner this weekend or consider a drive to look at the leaves change colours. ​

See behind-the-scenes photos and video from the afternoon ride on the CJAD 800 Facebook page.