Campaign to find out how Northumberland cyclist died
May 11 2009 by David Black, The Journal
GRIEVING relatives and friends of a Northumberland woman who was knocked down and killed as she cycled to work in London have launched a high-profile campaign in a bid to trace eye witnesses to the accident.
Experienced cycling enthusiast Eilidh Cairns, 30, was involved in a collision with a tipper lorry in Notting Hill Gate on her daily commute to work three months ago.
Eilidh – who was born and educated in Alnwick and raised in the nearby village of Ellingham – suffered severe crush injuries and died shortly afterwards at the Royal London Hospital. The lorry driver was arrested at the scene on suspicion of dangerous driving.
Three months on from the tragedy, Eilidh’s family and friends say the police investigation has resulted in no CCTV footage, no witnesses coming forward and no clear understanding of what happened – despite the accident taking place on a busy main road through west London in the morning rush hour.
Last Thursday they staged a roadside appeal at the accident site, handing out leaflets and talking to commuters, residents and passers-by, in a renewed attempt to glean information.
The event was part of a wider campaign, spearheaded by Eilidh’s sister Kate, 37, that also includes the use of social networking sites Twitter and Facebook, and the production of a short film. Kate, who lives in London, is working with IMG Media, where Eilidh worked as a post-production coordinator, to produce a video appeal intended to raise awareness of the fragility of cyclists, and to tell Eilidh’s story.
It features a number of political figures discussing cycling safety, as well as interviews with Eilidh’s family and representatives of the cycling community. The film will be posted on YouTube and distributed to broadcasters and cinemas in the hope it will encourage eye witnesses to come forward.
Eilidh’s parents, Heather and John Cairns, both 66 and retired school teachers, live at The Vicarage in Ellingham. She had two brothers, Mark and Asher, and sister Kate. Kate said: “Eilidh was a proud, dedicated, experienced and savvy cyclist. She rode this same route every day for three years. I’m completely puzzled as to how this occurred, and no one can give me any explanation.
“Eilidh’s crash was not typical. Both she and the lorry were travelling the same direction, in accelerating but slow-moving traffic, on a one-way road, with no exit and no junction.
“Any vital information gleaned from this appeal will not only help the family and the police to understand what happened in Eilidh’s case, but also directly contribute to the campaign for better road safety for cyclists.”
More than 300 cyclists took part in a memorial bike ride along Eilidh’s final route in March, and nearly £10,000 was donated to trauma research. Kate added: “Eilidh contributed so much to the lives of those around her. We owe it to her, and to all those who knew her, to find out the truth of her last moments.”