CBC: Ghost bike marks scene of city's latest fatal crash

Photos and story: Amanda Pfeffer

Two Ottawa city councillors have chained a white-painted "ghost bike" to a railing outside City Hall to mark the scene of last week's fatal hit and run, the latest in a list they say is growing far too long.

"We wanted to make sure that this bike was put in a place where we would always remember," said Coun. Catherine McKenney, who placed the bike there with Coun. Jeff Leiper.

"We [will] see it daily, and it could stay here as a reminder to us that we have a lot of work left to do to keep our most vulnerable road users safe in the city."

The unidentified male cyclist died in hospital after being struck and critically injured around 7:20 a.m. Thursday in the westbound lanes of Laurier Avenue W., not far from where traffic from Queen Elizabeth Driveway merges onto the busy road.

The black minivan that struck the man was found abandoned on nearby Mackenzie King Bridge. Ottawa police later issued a photograph and description of a suspect, but no arrests have been made.

'We know it's dangerous'

On Tuesday morning, cyclist Barbara Greenberg stopped by the ghost bike to tie pink and yellow flowers to the handlebars.

I feel a mixture of sadness, anger and frustration.- Barbara Greenberg, cyclist

"I've been thinking about it since it happened," said Greenberg, who commutes to work by bike, often taking the same route on Laurier where the crash took place. "I feel a mixture of sadness, anger and frustration."

Greenberg said many cyclists share her uneasiness about the stretch of Laurier, where an unsegregated, green-painted cycling lane runs between two lanes of traffic.

"We know it's dangerous, and we ride through it and we feel the danger," said Greenberg. "I would really hope councillors and the mayor are listening, because no one should have to die in the streets."

Rally planned for Wednesday

On Wednesday, cyclists and advocates plan to hold a rally near the scene of the crash, hoping to raise awareness about the dangerous spot and the need for solutions.

Catherine McKenney✔@cmckenney

This is always a gut wrenching act. Placing a ghost bike at or near the site of where a cyclist is killed on our streets. This one is at Marion Dewar Plaza at City Hall & will remain as a reminder until we take real action to keep our most vulnerable road users safe. #ottbike

Jeff Leiper@JLeiper

Let this be the last ghost bike Ottawa is ever forced to install. #ottbike

The suspect is described as a skinny man with long black hair standing five feet 10 inches tall, according to police.

He was seen on a surveillance camera at the Rideau Centre, not far from where the van was abandoned, wearing a light-coloured jacket over a hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans and white sneakers with two stripes on the side. He was also carrying a blue backpack.

Police are asking anyone who might have witnessed the crash or taken photos or video to get in touch with the collision investigation unit at 613-236-1222, ext. 2481.

Catherine McKenney