City of Edinburgh Council have issued a short video advising cyclists how to stay safe around trams as daytime testing in the city centre of the new transportation system, due to go live in May, began last week. But a cyclist who was injured in a fall while riding across tram tracks earlier this month says more must be done to improve safety.
Previously, testing from Haymarket to York Place, including the section along Princes Street, had only taken place at night, with daytime testing confined to the stretch from Edinburgh Park to the city’s airport.
The safety points outlined in the video – there are similar ones for pedestrians and motorists – is expanded upon on the council’s website, which advises cyclists to:
• Cross the tracks close to a right angle – this won’t always be possible, but by crossing as close to a right angle as you can you’ll avoid slipping on the tracks.
• Mind the gap - keep your wheels out of the tram tracks, especially when overtaking other vehicles or turning at junctions.
• Take care when cycling in the rain – the tracks will be slippery.
• Don't gamble at junctions – wait for the green light and until the road is clear, a tram could be coming.
• Look around you – trams are quiet, you may not hear them until they are very close.
• Think ahead and signal early – plan how you will cross the tracks and let other road users know your intentions.
• Know your limits - depending on the situation and your cycling experience, you may prefer to get off your bike at a safe point on the road to continue your journey.
Cycling campaigners have regularly raised safety concerns about the tram tracks after riders have come off their bikes ever since the first sections were laid in 2009.
In 2012, law firm Thompsons Solicitors described tram tracks on Princes Street in the city centre as “a fatality waiting to happen” and accused the council of trying to “bury its head in the sand” over the issue.
Fears intensified last autumn following a spate of incidents on a newly opened section of track close to Haymarket Station, leading the council to pledge to improve the safety of cyclists at that location.
However, earlier this month, 51-year-old Martin Finlayson of Stockbridge told the Edinburgh Evening News of the injuries he suffered when he came off his bike there.
The newspaper said he had recently returned from four months in France and so did not know of the reputation for danger that the location had acquired.
Mr Finlayson said: “I was cycling across one line and my bike came away from under me and it and I ended up in the middle of the road.
“If a tram or any other traffic had been coming along the carriageway towards Murrayfield I would have been severely injured and possibly worse.
“I suffered a cut on my leg, bruised ribs and a grazed hand. My bike handlebars have been bent along with the brake levers. My cycle trousers, jacket and gloves were all ripped.”
“My main concern is that this is apparently a known trouble spot but any work the council has done to improve safety for cyclists obviously isn’t working,” he added.
“Something needs to be done immediately before a more serious accident occurs.”
Speaking of the incident, the council’s transport convener, Councillor Lesley Hinds, city transport convener, said: “We’re sorry to hear about this accident and we wish Mr Finlayson a swift recovery.
“Incidents like this reinforce our message for cyclists to take extra care when cycling around the tram tracks, especially in wet weather when the tracks can be particularly slippy.
“We would also urge cyclists to heed the local signage,” she added.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.