Home
'The tram tracks have become a new work stream for us' says local surgeon...

Injuries caused be the tram tracks over the last seven years have resulted in a bill for the NHS of more than £1m, and the vast majority happened to cyclists.

Prof Chris Oliver, a consultant at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, has counted 252 tram track incidents, 191 involving cyclists.

The trauma and orthopaedic surgeon says that 119 men and 72 women were injured, with the most common incident being a wheel caught in the tracks, followed sliding on a track, which was particularly likely in wet weather.

The accidents caused 55 upper limb fractures or dislocations, eight sustained lower limb fractures and two facial fractures.

One sustained both upper and lower limb fractures and one had facial and lower limb fractures.

Prof Oliver told the BBC: "We deal with thousands of fractures a year in the Royal and it's become a new work stream for us.

"It's not the £1m cost to the NHS, the problem is the suffering caused by the accidents and people having time off work, often ending up with some chronic disability with reduced function in a wrist or a shoulder and perhaps not getting back to sport, not being inclined to get back to cycling.

"These are more significant things that are less tangible to measure."

Lesley Hinds, City of Edinburgh Council's transport convener, said: "We have yet to be shown the full report but the safety of pedestrians and cyclists is of utmost importance to the council and transport for Edinburgh.

"Since the launch of Edinburgh trams we have gone to every effort to raise awareness of its impact on all road users and have ensured clear signage to guide cyclists along the safest routes throughout the city."

Back in 2015 we reported how lawyers called for action to prevent what they see is an "inevitable" cycling fatality on Edinburgh's  tram lines, following a raft of injuries to cyclists, including broken collarbones and broken legs.

Thompsons Solicitors was 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."

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

20 comments

Avatar
Gavin_H [4 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes

Are the tram tracks different to the tracks in other cities in a way which causes more accidents? 

Avatar
pockstone [137 posts] 9 months ago
7 likes

Said it before; trams offer fewer benefits than trolley buses with vastly more expensive, disruptive and intrusive infrastructure. I cannot see how any tramway business plan can pass the value for money test. The only possible benefit is to the contractors who lay the tracks.

Avatar
dawguk [14 posts] 9 months ago
6 likes
Gavin_H wrote:

Are the tram tracks different to the tracks in other cities in a way which causes more accidents? 

If it's anything like Manchester, the rails are basically death traps in the wet, and the routes always seem to cross cycle paths at very acute angles, making the slippery death rails impossible to avoid (unless you turn into the road and cross at a jaunty angle).

Avatar
Jharrison5 [141 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes

Was this story cut and paste from the BBC site? No orthopaedic surgery takes place at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

Also, it cost over £1,000,000 to care for those people with injuries. Bodies and minds are not easily "fixed".

City of Edinburgh Council offered some advice to cyclists using roads near tram lines when the service commenced. None of it included any guidance on road position.

Avatar
Stephan Matthiesen [64 posts] 9 months ago
6 likes
Gavin_H wrote:

Are the tram tracks different to the tracks in other cities in a way which causes more accidents? 

They are certainly different from the numerous tracks in Nuremberg where I grew up, and Vienna and Milano where I cycled across many tram tracks.

Edinburgh has two locations where the road layout forces cyclists to cross the tracks at a shallow angle, while you also have to control the very dense motor traffic behind you and stop impatient drivers from overtaking just when you swerve to cross the track.

The image in this article is not one of the dangerous locations. Have a look at these two locations and think about how to cross the tracks in fast traffic:

Avatar
Mungecrundle [866 posts] 9 months ago
6 likes

Far cheaper to simply run the injured ones over and finish them off. For as little as £80 a pop.

Avatar
gunswick [119 posts] 9 months ago
3 likes
Stephan Matthiesen wrote:
Gavin_H wrote:

Are the tram tracks different to the tracks in other cities in a way which causes more accidents? 

They are certainly different from the numerous tracks in Nuremberg where I grew up, and Vienna and Milano where I cycled across many tram tracks.

Edinburgh has two locations where the road layout forces cyclists to cross the tracks at a shallow angle, while you also have to control the very dense motor traffic behind you and stop impatient drivers from overtaking just when you swerve to cross the track.

The image in this article is not one of the dangerous locations. Have a look at these two locations and think about how to cross the tracks in fast traffic:

This links sum it up brilliantly, it is a death trap. Edinburgh Council need to change the design. Its obviously dangerous.

Avatar
nmanfield [24 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

i live in Geneva, been a victim of the tram tracks as it very confusing the cycle in the centre of the city- so much so i now dont cycle through the centre there unless i'm on a cyclocross bike with wide tyres.  Done the superman thing landing on my head , still need to fix a buckled wheel....

Avatar
cyclisto [332 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

There are a few cyclist-friendly tram rail solutions that fill the gap with some rubbery material that compresses only under tram weight. Still though, sub-28mm tires are subject to lots of hazards such as skidding and wheel falling into longitudinal potholes and other anomalies.

Avatar
A V Lowe [619 posts] 9 months ago
6 likes
cyclisto wrote:

There are a few cyclist-friendly tram rail solutions that fill the gap with some rubbery material that compresses only under tram weight. Still though, sub-28mm tires are subject to lots of hazards such as skidding and wheel falling into longitudinal potholes and other anomalies.

Having studied this since 1990, I'd be fairly certain to state that there are NO solutions which fill the groove in tramway section rails  of which the 2 most common types (41GPU / Ri 59/60) have a groove which is c.36mm wide, a perfect size to grab a typical 37- or 32- ETRTO tyre size and lock it solid - sending the rider over the 'bars.

There is a system for level crossings which has been in use since 2005, and has eliminated 2 wheeler falls at most of the sites it has been installed at - some reporting 2 serious injuries per month. HOWEVER this is designed for vignole section rail - used almost universally on modern railway track, and very specifically the BR113A used on mainline rail lines - it may not fit the lighter rails used for trams.  It has been used in Geneva as a retro-fit but UK track design makes this a seriously costly bodge with no maker's guarantee.

In Brussels the city sensibly planned the tram tracks to be on a reserved wayleave wherever possible, which means that where the trams do run with road traffic the track can be fairly straight (so the 'keep' on grooved rail is not required) and standard level crossings (which are expensive and not really suitable for very long installations) can be used.  See a comment to another posting for more detail

 

 

Avatar
I love my bike [212 posts] 9 months ago
1 like
gunswick wrote:
Stephan Matthiesen wrote:
Gavin_H wrote:

Are the tram tracks different to the tracks in other cities in a way which causes more accidents? 

They are certainly different from the numerous tracks in Nuremberg where I grew up, and Vienna and Milano where I cycled across many tram tracks.

Edinburgh has two locations where the road layout forces cyclists to cross the tracks at a shallow angle, while you also have to control the very dense motor traffic behind you and stop impatient drivers from overtaking just when you swerve to cross the track.

The image in this article is not one of the dangerous locations. Have a look at these two locations and think about how to cross the tracks in fast traffic:

This links sum it up brilliantly, it is a death trap. Edinburgh Council need to change the design. Its obviously dangerous.

They should have designed it properly from the start, with engineers that knew what they were doing, using best practice (Germany, Austria, Italy etc).  A pity that the plans actually produced then got approved.

add: Headline photo shows advanced stop box which straddles tram tracks!

Avatar
Peowpeowpeowlasers [547 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes

https://goo.gl/maps/t39TtALiCDq

Deathtrap.  The solution there is to guide cyclists onto a part of the pavement, set aside for them and clearly marked so pedestrians know what to do.  And then  here:

https://goo.gl/maps/7orqEf4Tim12

...you take cyclists across, on a light-controlled junction, at the correct angle to line up with the no entry "except trams" sign you can see on that link.  But all this costs money, and as we all know, the people in power don't cycle and therefore don't understand what's required.

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2826 posts] 9 months ago
1 like
gunswick wrote:
Stephan Matthiesen wrote:
Gavin_H wrote:

Are the tram tracks different to the tracks in other cities in a way which causes more accidents? 

They are certainly different from the numerous tracks in Nuremberg where I grew up, and Vienna and Milano where I cycled across many tram tracks.

Edinburgh has two locations where the road layout forces cyclists to cross the tracks at a shallow angle, while you also have to control the very dense motor traffic behind you and stop impatient drivers from overtaking just when you swerve to cross the track.

The image in this article is not one of the dangerous locations. Have a look at these two locations and think about how to cross the tracks in fast traffic:

This links sum it up brilliantly, it is a death trap. Edinburgh Council need to change the design. Its obviously dangerous.

 

A big part of the problem is the stupid route that Edinburgh Council chose for the trams. There were other options that would've been cheaper and caused less disruption. At this stage and after all the money spent, the problem is hard to fix.

Avatar
swivel [4 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

Is it just me or should the headline be '200 cyclists injure themselves on tramlines in Edinburgh'? 

 

Avatar
cocomo [14 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
swivel wrote:

Is it just me or should the headline be '200 cyclists injure themselves on tramlines in Edinburgh'? 

 

These accidents have been happening due to design and issues with lack of space given to cyclists to approach correctly. The blame should be put on the tramlines not the cyclists.

Avatar
mjcycling [19 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

The second location is made even more tricky if you're turning right to Waverley station. Bleedin hairy if bus is on your inside to pull over to left to get a better angle of approach. 

my partner has been injured twice. Once slipped on we thought rail on foot. Scraped palms.

second time front wheel wipe out, torn trousers, cut knee, fortunately nothing more.

[/quote]

Avatar
RMurphy195 [117 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

If you look at old photos and film clips showing cyclists - in high numbers - such as some of the clips on the recent program about the history of Raleigh, you see lts of cyclists happily co-existing with, and coping with, tram tracks.

What is it about todays trams - or cyclists - that is different?

Avatar
whobiggs [127 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes
RMurphy195 wrote:

If you look at old photos and film clips showing cyclists - in high numbers - such as some of the clips on the recent program about the history of Raleigh, you see lts of cyclists happily co-existing with, and coping with, tram tracks.

What is it about todays trams - or cyclists - that is different?

 

I don't have much problem with them on my tourer with 26"x1.95" tyres but they scare the hell out of me on 25mm and I think that is the difference. In the olden days tyres were much fatter, add to that the speed and volume of traffic meaning that you cannot steer round/across them so easily.

Avatar
matthewn5 [1087 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes
Stephan Matthiesen wrote:

The image in this article is not one of the dangerous locations. Have a look at these two locations and think about how to cross the tracks in fast traffic:

Lethal!

Avatar
Man of Lard [338 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes
matthewn5 wrote:

Lethal!

Are the trams fitted with disc brakes? We should be told...