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Law firm says they are dealing with almost 100 cycling claims including broken legs, collarbones and teeth from falls on tram lines

Lawyers say action must be taken to prevent what they see is an "inevitable" cycling fatality on Edinburgh's new tram lines, following a raft of injuries to cyclists, including broken collarbones and broken legs.

Thompsons Solicitors is dealing with nearly 100 claims against Edinburgh City Council following tram track injuries. One rider reportedly broke three teeth and lost the end of a finger as well as suffering a damaged shoulder and pulled hip after falling on the tracks.

Thompsons says it is the council's statutory duty to act, and are calling, along with the local cycle campaign, Spokes, for a cycle route to guide riders over the tram lines at a safe angle. 

Patrick McGuire, a partner at the firm, told BBC Scotland: "We’ve had people who’ve lost finger tips, we’ve had people who’ve had broken collar bones, we’ve had people who’ve had broken legs.

"To my mind, it’s absolutely inevitable that unless something happens we will see a death on the streets of our capital city."

The first test case against the city council is due in November, and Thompsons expects individual payouts of up to £10,000 if claims are successful. They cyclists should lodge a claim if they are injured.

Spokes, the Lothian cycle campaign, says collisions are happening to experienced riders as well as novices, the main black spot being the route West from Morrison Street to Haymarket Terrace, which it says has seen as many collisions as all other sites put together. 

Spokes has suggested a segregated cycle route along this section, which would then cross the tram lines at 90 degrees.

Image courtesy of Spokes

The Spokes website says: "You can cross the lines safely for months, but then something goes wrong – it’s dark and wet, a vehicle forces you sideways, you swerve for a pothole, you hit a point where the tramline is marginally too high, or countless other reasons. So, always be ultra-aware!"

The campaign group says original designs did not take into account interaction with other road users, particularly cyclists.

Lesley Hinds, Edinburgh Council transport convener, said: "We have always encouraged cyclists to take care when travelling near the tram tracks, especially during wet weather when they can become slippery.

"The council advises that it’s best to cross the tracks as close to a right angle as possible and to take extra care to avoid getting wheels caught in between the rail grooves.

"We have also installed signage which helps to guide cyclists along the safest possible routes."

The City Council is recording collisions, which can be reported by phone to 0131 338 5844 or email trams [at] edinburgh.gov.uk or in writing to Tram Depot, 1 Myreton Drive,  Edinburgh.

14 comments

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belgravedave [272 posts] 2 years ago
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Seriously was the whole design done by idiots and if so will anybody get sacked?

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andyp [1492 posts] 2 years ago
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Are you watching, Manchester?

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kcr [153 posts] 2 years ago
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There was no design. They bodged Haymarket at the end and it is simply not fit for purpose, but it's not the only problem area or missed opportunity. Unforgivable that they did not design cycling into the tram system properly given how long the whole thing took.

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Peowpeowpeowlasers [509 posts] 2 years ago
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belgravedave wrote:

Seriously was the whole design done by idiots and if so will anybody get sacked?

Read about the tram system's history in Edinburgh. It has been an epic waste of money.

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StraelGuy [956 posts] 2 years ago
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Is it not obvious to all but the most brain dead that cycling across a wet tram track at the angle the guy in the videodid is totally moronic  39 ?!

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zanf [932 posts] 2 years ago
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guyrwood wrote:

Is it not obvious to all but the most brain dead that cycling across a wet tram track at the angle the guy in the videodid is totally moronic  39 ?!

Before you put your victim blaming hat on, you should have researched what the actual road is like, and how the tracks intersect then you would know that it is inevitable that cyclists would be taken out.

Because the tram system was such a catastrophe of budget planning, they ran out of money to get safety fillers so instead, you end up with lots of this: https://youtu.be/GAVD4EXb8_M

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Bobbinogs [250 posts] 2 years ago
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I wouldn't call that cyclist moronic but his technique led to his fall. Tackling a tramline in the wet and at that angle caused the problem. Unfortunately there are a lot of cyclists who don't know how to ride a bike...any charity ride or sportive gives ample evidence.

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mrmo [2093 posts] 2 years ago
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considering that many cities in Europe have tram tracks what have they done that is so different to what happens in Edinburgh?

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Flying Scot [947 posts] 2 years ago
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The problem in Edinburgh is that the road widens and narrows and it's virtually impossible to pass at some places at a right angle.

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langsett [35 posts] 2 years ago
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Leeds, Sheffield et al take note

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Goldfever4 [243 posts] 2 years ago
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mrmo wrote:

considering that many cities in Europe have tram tracks what have they done that is so different to what happens in Edinburgh?

When I was last in Edinburgh the cycle lane was between the tram tracks on Princes St.

Makes hit hard to hit a >45* angle to cross safely....

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Matt_Z [40 posts] 2 years ago
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this is not the first city to have tramlines and these are definitely not the first guys to try and cross them. Even the pros struggle with them (Serse Coppi comes to mind). However the council should have taken steps before this making sure that the crossing was at 90 degrees and the track was recessed with the appropriate crossing. Time for Edinburgh to correct their mistakes.

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danthomascyclist [333 posts] 2 years ago
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Imaging designing a footpath with wobbly brickwork that if navigated incorrectly spits you out in front of traffic. It would make national newspapers. Sure, most people could walk over it without a fall, but it's still bloody stupid.

This is the same thing, just for cyclists. Ridiculous planning.

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kcr [153 posts] 2 years ago
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I wouldn't call that cyclist moronic but his technique led to his fall. Tackling a tramline in the wet and at that angle caused the problem. Unfortunately there are a lot of cyclists who don't know how to ride a bike

Have a closer look at the cycling "infrastructure" in the diagram and the video. The official cycle route is to leave the road at the dotted line, travel down the cycle lane in the taxi rank past the white bollard, give way at the end of the taxi rank beyond the second traffic light, rejoin the road and cross the tram track at right angles, cycle on the right hand of the tram lines to the end of the tram stop, cross the tram lines again and then follow an extremely narrow cycle lane on the left of the road between kerb and tram lines (and which handles two way cycle traffic) down to Haymarket Yards.

It's a complicated and hazardous arrangement, and not very obvious or easy to follow if you are not familiar with the layout (I think the video was shot not long after the road opened for cyclists, after the tram work finished). Many cyclists don't see the official detour into the taxi rank and naturally follow the road, find themselves in a narrowing gap and then try to cross the tram lines. If you are skilful, or lucky, like the first cyclist in the high viz jacket, you get across, but the crash victim wasn't so fortunate.

The infrastructure should be designed for safety and ease of use, even for people who "don't know how to ride a bike". Haymarket is not fit for purpose, and the people responsible for it should hang their heads in shame.