The sister of a TV producer who was crushed by an HGV while cycling through west London has spoken of her dismay after failing in a high court attempt to secure a fresh inquest into her sister's death. Eilidh Cairns, 30, was cycling in morning rush-hour traffic on 5 February 2009 when a tipper truck knocked her from her bike at Notting Hill Gate. An experienced cyclist, she is believed to have been in front of the lorry and hit from behind in the incident.
The Portuguese driver, Joao Lopes, said he had not seen the cyclist, and later pleaded guilty to driving with defective vision, for which he was fined £200 and given three points.
An inquest last year recorded a verdict of accidental death. But the family argued that the coroner, Dr Shirley Radcliffe, had failed to investigate the death fully or to consider making recommendations to prevent future deaths.
The dead woman's sister, Kate Cairns, had asked Mr Justice Silber, sitting at the high court, to quash the verdict and order a fresh inquest. But the judge on Monday rejected the application and said he was "a long way from being satisfied" that a fresh inquest would reach a different verdict.
"I am conscious that this judgment will be a disappointment to the Cairns family to whom we all send our deepest sympathy," said the judge. "But my duty is to apply the law, which I have sought to do." Speaking after the judgment, Cairns said the family had been "pretty devastated" by the original inquest verdict, and felt "the legal process has let us down". She added: "These are not accidents. They are not inevitable. The are not unavoidable. They can be prevented. Why should cyclists die under wheels of HGVs and people just say it's a simple accident?"
The television producer was a confident and experienced cyclist, who had made the same round trip from her home in Kentish Town to her work in Chiswick for three years. The original police investigation found that there was a blind spot in front of the lorry at the position where she was probably struck.
Eilidh's family and friends had been "left in a state of incredulity and disbelief" when it was argued at the high court hearing that there were "no practicable preventative measures" which the Coroner could recommend. "There is a plethora of reports and articles highlighting the problems of blind spots in lorries. We know that cameras and sensors save lives … Is this not a practicable preventative measure?"
Following Eilidh's death, the family launched a campaign called See Me, Save Me, and have secured the support of 401 MEPs for a proposal to the European parliament to make cameras and sensors mandatory in HGVs. Their MP, Sir Alan Beith, has tabled a bill, due to be heard on 25 November, calling for the technology to become a requirement.
"I definitely do think that cameras and sensors would have made a difference in Eilidh's case," said Kate Cairns. "It was such a massive loss for Eilidh to die, that we feel that anything positive that could come out of it should come out of it."
She said 21 cyclists have been killed by HGVs in the capital since her sister's death. A 51-year-old man, Brian Dorling, died last month after being struck by a tipper lorry in east London, despite using one of the designated "cycling superhighways", supposedly reserved for bicycles. He was the 14th cyclist casualty in the capital this year. Three weeks earlier a Korean-born student, Min Joo Lee, 24, was crushed by an HGV close to Kings Cross station while crossing a busy junction on her bike.
Chris Peck, policy co-ordinator at the national cycling campaign group CTC, said: "Most of the deaths that have occurred in London this year have involved lorries, normally at least half of all deaths involve a large goods vehicle making a low-speed turn."
• This article was amended on 8 November 2011. The original article referred to "mirrors and sensors". A subheading said that Eilidh was killed at a junction. These have been corrected. A reference to the Coroner's ruling at the high court hearing has also been corrected.