Family of Eilidh Cairns killed in bike accident, calls for quick action on HGV changes

The family of Eilidh Cairns has called for changes to HGV design to be brought in quickly amid fears of delays

Eilidh Cairns who was killed whilst cycling to work
Eilidh Cairns who was killed whilst cycling to work

The family of a Northumberland woman killed after being knocked off her bike by an HGV have called on the Government to act quickly to bring about safer lorry design.

Loved ones of Eilidh Cairns have joined a number of organisations in calling on ministers to act amid fears that industry lobbying will delay any changes by up to 10 years.

The Government last night insisted it backed such measures, “but only where it can be clearly demonstrated through evidence that they will improve safety.”

Eilidh, 30, from Ellingham, near Alnwick, died after being knocked off her bike by a lorry in London, where she lived and worked at a television production company, in February 2009.

The former Duchess’s Community High School student’s family set up the See Me Save Me campaign to eliminate lorry blind spots.

Their campaigning helped secure a vote in the European Parliament last month on proposals which would see lorry cabs redesigned to eliminate their blindspots, with a large majority of MEPs voting in favour.

The next step is for the European Union’s Council of Ministers to approve the directive at its meeting in June.

But the Government has called for more research and London mayor Boris Johnson has said he is worried that it may oppose the changes.

According to national newspaper reports, the Swedish and French Governments are seeking a 10-year delay to the introduction of the design improvements, amid suggestions that Volvo Trucks and Renault Trucks are concerned at the implementation costs after they recently launched new model ranges.

The Cairns family’s campaign has now joined forces with a number of organisations representing cyclists, pedestrians and sustainable transport in writing to the secretary of state for transport Patrick McLoughlin.

They have teamed up with British Cycling, Campaign for Better Transport, CTC the national cycling charity, Living Streets, London Cycling Campaign, Roadpeace, and Sustrans.

The bodies are calling for an early adoption of measures amid fears at the impact of any industry lobbying.

Eilidh’s sister Kate Cairns, an independent sustainability adviser who lives at Newton-by-the-Sea and is founder of See Me Save Me, said: “If the Swedes and French get their way, their irresponsible delaying tactics would make it impossible for other manufacturers to redesign safe cabs for another 10 years.

“This will unnecessarily stifle innovation which we know will save lives.”

Rhia Weston, road safety campaigner at CTC, the national cycling charity, added: “The way lorries are currently designed is dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.

“MEPs have voted for changes that would make it much easier for drivers to see them, preventing collisions and saving lives.

“We need the Government to stand up to industry delaying tactics and get safer, greener lorries on our roads as soon as possible.”

The letter states: “Such a delay would continue to put pedestrians’ and cyclists’ lives at risk.

“This in turn deters people from taking up walking and cycling as safe and normal ways to get around for day to day journeys, undermining the Government’s efforts to tackle congestion, pollutant and greenhouse emissions, and to improve the health of the nation.”

Last night, Mr McLoughlin’s department said it would like to see such changes introduced as soon as possible but that the details of the new lorry designs have yet to be specified.

A spokesman said: “Improving cycle safety is a key priority for the Government.

“We support the amendments that will allow longer, more aerodynamic vehicle designs, but only where it can be clearly demonstrated through evidence that they will improve safety.

“We believe the legislative type approval process is the most effective way to achieve this.”

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