Cyclists gathered Saturday in memory of Robert “Bicycle Bob” Silverman, an activist who played a pivotal role in making Montreal the bike-friendly city it is today.
Assembling in the Plateau, a collective of roughly 200 cyclists dubbed the St-Denis bike path the “Piste cyclable Robert Silverman,” petitioning the city to make the new name official — and the city agreed to do just that, according to a press release .
The collective Vélo fantôme Montréal (VFM) said that as a result of their efforts, the Plante administration has vowed to begin the renaming process.
Silverman, who founded the group Le Monde à Bicyclette (MAB) in 1975, died in late February at 88 years old.
Robert Silverman, pictured around 1980. (Photo: Archives of Le Monde à Bicyclette/Ville de Montreal)
Robert Silverman, pictured around 1980. (Archives of Le Monde à Bicyclette/Ville de Montreal)
Over the years, MAB organized a wide variety of theatrical protests demanding the city improve its cycling infrastructure.
The protests were over-the-top: in some cases, members would slather themselves in ketchup and lie in the street, simulating the aftermath of tragic accidents.
“Le Monde à Bicyclette did stunts, and they did big stunts,” VFM’s Mathieu Murphy-Perron told CTV News.
Murphy-Perron described one instance when Silverman dressed up as Moses, demanding the city allow cyclists over the bridge connecting Montreal to its South Shore. His plan worked.
“[He] went down by the water and said ‘Open these waters so that we can pass.’”
According to the VFM press release, Silverman’s contribution to Montreal’s cycling culture cannot be understated — but there is still work to be done, especially given that numerous Montreal cyclists were killed in 2021.
“It’s high time we launched a MAB-inspired activist group to continue the poetic-victimization struggle launched by Robert and many others nearly fifty years ago,” said Lëa-Kim Châteauneuf, cyclist and spokesperson at the Saturday commemoration.
VFM will host a bike ride in honor of Silverman on April 30.