Page last updated at 23:07 GMT, Thursday, 7 May 2009 00:07 UK

'My sister deserved safer roads'

Kate Cairns
Kate Cairns says cyclists are undervalued

The number of cyclists killed or seriously injured on Britain's roads appears to be on the rise.

New figures from the National Audit Office show although the numbers fell between 2000 and 2004, they rose again between 2004 and 2007 by 11%.

BBC News speaks to Kate Cairns whose sister, Eilidh, was killed earlier this year in a cycling accident involving a lorry in Notting Hill, west London. Kate and friends and family are continuing to appeal for witnesses while a police investigation continues.

Eilidh loved her bike, she loved cycling. She cycled everywhere. When she went out to clubs she would cycle home at two in the morning.

She didn't take unnecessary risks and she didn't put herself in danger. She is well-educated, experienced and knew what she was doing.

There are all sorts of cyclists on the roads. There are professional cyclists, couriers and fairweather cyclists.
Tributes to Eilidh Cairns on railings
Eilidh Cairns was a seasoned cyclist


Eilidh was a hardcore, everyday cyclist and it's just frightening that even the best and most experienced and strongest cyclist can come to their fate like this on a straight road - no left hand turn, no crash, no explicable reason for why it happened.

It's shocking that such a confident, self-assured and seasoned cyclist could end up under the wheels of a lorry.

There's a kind of assumption that cyclists are taking their own life into their hands just by choosing to get on their bike - that it's dangerous.

They should be made to feel safe on their bikes, not made to feel at risk and not made to feel the most vulnerable person on the road.

Sadly it seems that public opinion and perhaps authority opinion is that the death of a cyclist is not quite as significant as perhaps the death of someone in a car or vehicle.

And it seems a disproportionate amount of publicity is given to the death of a cyclist.

We have hundreds of pounds spent on congestion charging and cameras but it will be interesting to know how the government account and calculate the cost of the deaths of cyclists.

If you look at the cost of the death of a cyclist, you are looking at emergency services, hospital costs, road closure costs, public transport diversion costs and some of the remedial action on lorries such as alarm fitting might cost approximately £200, so is the government really looking at the cost of deaths?

These deaths are avoidable and unnecessary.

For me, I need to know why. I need to know the chain of events that occurred that today leaves me with a big gaping and aching hole.

It's this understanding that is going to help me with the loss. It's this understanding that will hopefully let me find some sort of peace and acceptance.


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