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Aylmer and Gatineau cyclists gathered at Wilfrid Lavigne Park in Aylmer on May 17 to participate in Tour du Silence, an event where participants ride in memory of those who have died when road cycling. The event also aims to raise awareness on sharing the road and being courteous road users.

Tour du Silence is organized provincially by the Fédération Québécoise des Sports Cyclistes (FQSC) in collaboration with Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ). Since 2010, the event has taken place on the third Wednesday of May. The event was started in Texas in 2003 and there are now participants around the world. This year, there were 18 Quebec cities that participated. The Gatineau event was coordinated by Vélo-services, in collaboration with the SAAQ and the FQSC.

Before takeoff, participants gathered at the park where organizers and two spokespersons took the opportunity to speak about the event. Isabelle Miron, municipal councillor for the Orée-du-Parc district, and Michel Légère, initiator of the Route verte, former mayor of Hull and recipient of the Order of Gatineau, were this year's spokespersons. Chelsea Mayor Pierre Guénard was also present, along with Margaret McKinnon, president of Vélo-services, and representatives from Vélo Plaisirs and Action Vélo Outaouais, who advocated for cyclists' rights.

“Normally the event takes place in Gatineau, but we wanted to be present in all sectors, so this year we chose Aylmer,” said McKinnon. “We also wanted to highlight to cyclists the paths being developed in the area, such as on Broad Street.”

The cyclists started their 8 km route at 6:00 pm from Wilfrid-Lavigne Park. They rode down Wilfrid-Lavigne, then turned right on chemin d’Aylmer, right on Broad Street to Boulevard Allumettières, then continued onto Klock Road and back to Wildfrid-Lavigne. The cyclists were escorted by Gatineau police and a hearse.

“We thought the hearse was a strong image for our message,” said McKinnon. “We want to send a message to cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers to share the road, respect the rules and one another.

For the first time in Gatineau, the event also had a school component that took place on Thursday May 18. The one-hour activity included 35 Grade 6 students from Notre-Dame elementary school riding their bikes and learning about Tour du Silence.

Photo Caption: Cyclists starting their route on Wilfrid-Lavigne, May 17

Photo Credit: Sophie Demers

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