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Friends of physio killed while cycling in London call for safer roads

15 June 2015 - 9:59am

Cyclist safety is back in the spotlight after the death of a leading women’s health physiotherapist Esther Hartsilver, aged 32.


Physio Esther Hartsilver was a 'rising star' in women's health

Ms Hartsilver was killed on her way to work at King’s College Hospital on 29 May. She is the second physio to lose their life in a bicycle accident this year while commuting to work in London and the third to die in this way since 2004.

Stephanie Turner, 29, died in January in Stamford Hill (see Frontline 4 March) and Vicki McCreery, 37, in 2004 on Blackfriars Bridge.

Ms Hartsilver was a ‘rising star’ in the women’s health physiotherapy profession, said Doreen McClurg, chair of the CSP’s pelvic, obstetrics and gynaecological physiotherapy network (POGP).

Posts on POGP’s group’s Facebook page included:

‘Esther made a positive difference to many people...the POGP has lost a talented member’ and ‘a sad loss to the women’s health physio world.’’

And on the women’s health Facebook page: ‘Very tragic news about the death of leading London pelvic physio Esther Hartsilver.’

Dynamic physio

Close friend, physio Maayan Gavra said: ‘It is a real loss to the profession. Esther was a really dynamic physio.

‘She touched the hearts and lives of so many people - patients, colleagues and friends alike - with her great sense of humour and insatiable appetite for life.

‘She was very active and ambitious. She was very outspoken and popular on our course at Brighton where she was the CSP student rep.

The next issue of Frontline will feature obituaries for Ms Hartsilver.

Her spirit was remembered on 4 June  when Project Awesome, her running club, held an 8km run with more than 200 relatives, friends and colleagues.

File 156444
Stephanie Turner, foreground in blue with physio friends including Sarah Wood, Hannah Cowan and Rachel Black

A group of her friends in Sydney, Australia, organised a simultaneous event running from Bondi Beach to Bronte along the coast.

And on 8 June more than 200 cycle safety campaigners in London stopped traffic as they lay in the road for a vigil at the spot where Ms Hartsilver died. Their protest called for heavy goods vehicles to be banned from London’s roads during rush hour.

Physio friends of Stephanie Turner have called for measures to make cycling safer.

‘As a group we are still coming to terms with the unexpected loss of our wonderful friend. It shook all of us to hear that this had happened to another fellow physiotherapist under such similar circumstances and so soon after we lost Steph,’ said Sarah Wood.

‘It is an awful thought to think of this happening to someone else and if we can contribute in any way to increase awareness and lower the chances of more accidents then we will.

Improving safety

‘The last thing Steph would have wanted would be to discourage cycling; she loved using her bike for work and often raved about how lucky she was to get to cycle through Hyde Park on a daily basis. The key is awareness and improving safety.’

Another friend and fellow physio Hannah Cowan said: ‘ If physiotherapists are going to cycle as part of their work, for example to carry out home visits, as Steph did, then our professional bodies need to campaign for safer cycle routes to keep them safe.’

Rachel Black added: ‘To help cyclists they need to sort out the potholes in the inner roads. Drivers expect us [cyclists] to stay within this area without realising the potholes are usually the cause for us coming further out into the road and for them calling us unpredictable.

‘But on a road bike I am at risk of falling off if I hit a pothole. Lorries need to stop driving within peak times when cyclists are commuting to work, especially in London. Lorries should have sensors to indicate if they have cars or cyclists in close proximity. Also if they are to increase cycle paths they shouldn’t just stop and start in random places.’

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