Stop 'slaughter' on London's roads, bereaved sister tells Boris

Lorry death was an accident, inquest says

by Tom Henry   January 25, 2010  

boris.jpg

Just a week after Boris Johnson pledged to make London safer for cyclists, the sister of a woman crushed by a truck has hit out at the mayor over the 'needless slaughter' on the capital's roads.

Kate Cairns was speaking following the inquest into the death of her 30-year-old sister Eilidh, a TV producer who died from multiple injuries at a pedestrian crossing in Notting Hill last February.

The inquest was told that lorry driver Joan Lopes, 53, would have spotted her if his mirror had been adjusted correctly. An accidental death verdict was recorded.

Kate Cairns told the Evening Standard: “The one thing we didn't want was an accidental verdict. We agree it was not intentional but we believed it was avoidable.

“People in power act as though these accidents just unfortunately happen to female cyclists and people have to deal with it. There is a huge problem with female cyclists being on the streets of London with HGVs and politicians are not doing enough to address that.

“These cyclists are not soldiers going into battle. They are just women going to work and nobody is doing anything to stop this needless slaughter.”

Ms Cairns said the Mayor's decision to get rid of the Commercial Vehicle Education Unit (CVEU) was “completely irresponsible”, adding: “Boris wants to make London the cycling capital of Europe but he is doing nothing to help this situation.”

Last week Mr Johnson told a meeting of bike manufacturers and retailers: "In London we are striving towards a real cycling revolution, which will make the bicycle the mode of choice for thousands more Londoners - cutting congestion and pollution.

"To help us achieve this we want to harness the unique knowledge and assets of the cycling industry - pooling ideas and working together to make cycling safer and more secure. This is London's year of cycling, and I want to ensure that everything possible is done to break down the barriers that prevent people from taking up the cleanest, greenest, and often quickest means of getting around London."

While cycling deaths in London have lessened in recent years, most of those that do happen involve HGVs and the vast majority of cyclists killed have been women.

The London Cycling Campaign has also criticised the disbanding of the CVEU. Development officer Charlie Lloyd said: "It's difficult to believe that our cycling mayor is disbanding the only police unit in the country that has the power to properly investigate unsafe lorry operators, and bring them up to standards set by Health and Safety law.

Returning her verdict at Westminster coroners' court on Friday, deputy coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe said it was “a terrible, terrible tragedy” and that cyclist safety was “a huge problem”.