Tragic death of London cyclist killed by a tipper lorry inspires new play

Eilidh Cairns was fatally injured after being hit by a tipper truck as she cycled to work in London in 2009. The incident is the inspiration behind The White Bike, a play that has opened this week

'The White Bike' at The Space theatre.
(Image credit: The Space)

The death of a cyclist in London has served as the inspiration of a new stage play, The White Bike, named after the 'ghost bikes' left at the scene of cyclist fatalities as a memorial.

Eilidh Cairns was cycling into work in London on the morning of February 5 2009 when she was hit from behind by a tipper lorry. She was dragged along the road by the vehicle, and died in hospital later that day of her injuries. A ghost bike and a plaque are on the spot at Notting Hill Gate where she died.

Cairns's death has served as the inspiration behind The White Bike, which is being performed at The Space theatre in London from September 19-30.

"Millions of people cycle to work every day. And every week, some of them don’t make it home," read the promotional literature for the play.

"One Tuesday morning, Isabelle packs her lunch box into her pannier, kisses her young daughter goodbye and sets off on her bike through Hackney. What happens along the way is at once shocking, inconceivable and terrifyingly ordinary."

>>> Cyclist dies after being hit by lorry in central London

The White Bike was written by Tamara von Werthern, who explained how Cairns's death and her ghost bike memorial inspired her to create the play.

"A ghost bike is a bike painted white put up in the place where a cyclist has died, often put up by family and friends," von Werthen told the BBC.

"I came across a crash site where someone had put flowers and there was an image of a young woman, that woman was Eilidh Cairns. It just started this idea of 'what if this happened to me?'."

"It's a strange thing, as soon as you put on cycling gear you are no longer regarded as a human being. It's ridiculous because we are all just people trying to make our way across a busy city."

There will be a question and answer session after the play on Friday September 29 with the cast, creative team, Donnachadh McCarthy of Stop Killing Cyclists, and a speaker from Sustrans "on the wider social relevance of the play and the issues it raises".

The danger posed to cyclists by heavy goods vehicles was highlighted again this week as a female cyclist died after a collision with a tipper truck in London on Wednesday.

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Nigel Wynn
Former Associate Editor

Nigel Wynn worked as associate editor on, he worked almost single-handedly on the Cycling Weekly website in its early days. His passion for cycling, his writing and his creativity, as well as his hard work and dedication, were the original driving force behind the website’s success. Without him, would certainly not exist on the size and scale that it enjoys today. Nigel sadly passed away, following a brave battle with a cancer-related illness, in 2018. He was a highly valued colleague, and more importantly, n exceptional person to work with - his presence is sorely missed.