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24-year-old woman was thrown from bike and run over by minibus on Scottish capital's Princes Street...

 

An Edinburgh cyclist has died in hospital from injuries she sustained after she was run over by a minibus after falling off her bike when its wheel reportedly got stuck in a tram track.

The incident happened at 8.30am this morning on Princes Street, outside the Frasers department store in the Scottish capital’s West End.

The 24-year-old woman was run over by a minibus belonging to tour operator Rabbie’s Tours and was trapped beneath its wheels, with media outlets including the Scotsman reporting that she fell off her bike after its wheel became stuck in a tram track.

Police Scotland have appealed for witnesses, with Sergeant Fraser Wood of the Road Policing Unit in Edinburgh commenting: "Sadly, as a result of this collision, the young woman sustained injuries that she could not recover from. Our sympathies are with her family and friends at this time."

In an earlier appeal, he had said: "We have already spoken to a number of motorists and bus passengers who were on Princes Street at the time of the collision, but the area was likely to have been extremely busy at the time with people making their way to and from work.

"If you believe you have information relevant to our ongoing inquiries then please contact police immediately."

Anyone with information is requested to contact the Road Policing Unit in Edinburgh via 101 and quote incident number 643 of the 31st May.

The victim was treated at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where Professor Chris Oliver works as a trauma and orthopaedic surgeon.

In March, Professor Oliver – who is also chair of Cycling UK in Scotland – said that the hospital had treated 252 people for injuries caused by the city’s tram tracks, 191 of those cyclists.  

> NHS has spent £1 million treating Edinburgh tram track casualties

Today's fatality comes two years after a firm of solicitors warned that a death was “absolutely inevitable” unless safety improvements were made.

> Edinburgh must act before an "inevitable" fatality on its tram tracks, say solicitors

Thompsons Solicitors said it had acted against City of Edinburgh Council on behalf of 100 cyclists injured in incidents in which the tram tracks were a factor.

Together with local cycle campaign group Spokes, the law firm called on the local authority to put cycle routes in place that would enable riders to cross the tracks at a safe angle.

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.

30 comments

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BehindTheBikesheds [491 posts] 2 months ago
25 likes

Local authority should be prosecuted for culpable homocide, they knew this was an issue but have refused to deal with the matter post haste and as such are to blame for this outcome.

Whoever implemented this and those that refused to do anything now have a death of an innocent person on their hands.

RIP to family but should never have happened.

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Edgeley [464 posts] 2 months ago
16 likes

We all knew that this would happen at some point, didn't we.  Sad, predictable, negligent.

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kitkat [455 posts] 2 months ago
7 likes

Condolences to the family & friends of the young lady  2 

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wellsprop [242 posts] 2 months ago
3 likes

Awful.

Worst thing is, I remember reading an article here a few months ago about the atrocious design and lots of comments saying it won't be long until something like this happens  2

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schneil [5 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

There's a similar issue in Manchester City Centre with the tram lines and TfGM ignoring the danger  2

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Grahamd [544 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

Sad news, condolences to her family. I sincerely hope her death will not be in vain and the inevitable coroners report gives sufficient direction to the council to address the flaws in the tram rail design.

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WillRod [204 posts] 2 months ago
5 likes

Health and safety is reactionary not proactive, and that is the real issue.

It is only after lives are lost that legislation or redesigns are brought about, leaving grieving families behind. My condolences to the young lady and her family.

 

Of course, joe public will tell you that we live in a nanny state, but I can tell you, those of us who work in industry do jobs where one false move could kill you, or others, which is why we have strict policies, yet each of these policies is based around learning from accidents where real people lost lives or were seriously injured.

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Mungecrundle [806 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 is a landmark in law. For the first time, companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.

Source HSE.gov.uk

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ChrisB200SX [432 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

While the design may have caused the cyclist to fall, I would question if it's likely that the driver caused the collision and therefore her death.

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Prosper0 [96 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes
ChrisB200SX wrote:

While the design may have caused the cyclist to fall, I would question if it's likely that the driver caused the collision and therefore her death.

 

Agreed. Whilst she fell due to the tracks I'd put money on the fact that the minibus driver was far too close and not leaving enough space for an emergency stop. Just as responsible.

 

 

 

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balmybaldwin [197 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

Condolences to the family.

How can this have been allowed to happen. It's been staring us in the face for years and years this was likely to happen. It is shameful if a Fatal Accident Enquiry isn't launched as a result of this, and I expect planners and designers heads to roll

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grumpyoldcyclist [49 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes

RIP and condolences to family and friends.

Would echo the comments already made, how was the design allowed when everyone has been pointing out the issues?

Also why was the minibus belonging to tour operator Rabbie’s Tours so close as to not be able to avoid her?

BOTH issues need to be addressed with some urgency and not once again dismissed as an unfortunate 'accident'. It would appear that both of the events could have been avoided and a life saved.

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cyclesteffer [262 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

Agree. This is no 'accident', if it's been pointed out plenty of times before that it was highly likely to result in serious injury or death.

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hsiaolc [350 posts] 2 months ago
4 likes

191 cyclists injured because of tram line.  How rediculous. 

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IanEdward [117 posts] 2 months ago
5 likes

I wondered about the minibus' speed as well, but apparently the stopping distance at 20mph is 12 metres. I wouldn't expect motorists to hang back 12 metres behind me in case I unexpectedly fell off in front of them. Swerving may not have been an option either, that section of road is hemmed in by railings and pavement on one side.

I'd be pretty hesistant to start trying to drag the name of the tour bus operator through the mud for this, all we know so far is that it's a tragic accident, possibly caused by the layout of the tram tracks.

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BeatPoet [80 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes

I can imagine exactly how that happened. It's a f horrible corner at the best of times. You basically have to turn into the tram tracks if you want to stay in the cycle lane for Princes Street. Worst "design" ever.

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burtthebike [920 posts] 2 months ago
5 likes

This is a generic problem with Road Safety Audits, which frequently ignore the safety of cyclists, despite a formal system existing to include them, the Non-Motorised User (NMU) Review.  The real problem is that this process is not mandatory, so if a problem exists, the local authority and Highways England just ignore it and make sure that no NMU is done, which is criminally negligent.

All road schemes should have a mandatory NMU and it should not be optional.  Funny how none of the parties seem to have mentioned this in their manifestos when they promise to spend lots on cycling.

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userfriendly [610 posts] 2 months ago
9 likes

The fix is simple and pretty cheap. There are hard rubber inserts made specifically for tram tracks to prevent bicycle wheels from getting caught in them.

Edinburgh Council should have installed them from the start. At the very latest they should have installed them after the first few accidents, let alone hundreds of them.

Now a young woman is dead. It was completely preventable.

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Ush [932 posts] 2 months ago
3 likes
userfriendly wrote:

The fix is simple and pretty cheap. There are hard rubber inserts made specifically for tram tracks to prevent bicycle wheels from getting caught in them.

Edinburgh Council should have installed them from the start. At the very latest they should have installed them after the first few accidents, let alone hundreds of them.

Now a young woman is dead. It was completely preventable.

 

Exactly.  Does anyone know of a reason why none of the products mentioned in EricD's post earlier this year (about another elastomer insert) are not installed by default?: http://road.cc/content/news/215067-device-answer-tram-track-danger-cyclists

 

Is there really any reason why this is not done?  

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yourealwaysbe [4 posts] 2 months ago
3 likes

Wrt minibus stopping distances, The Scotsman described the bus as 'oncoming'.

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ibr17xvii [196 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

How sad, condolences to the family & friends of the young lady.

 

I hate tram/rail tracks, come a cropper a couple of times with them & now nearly always get off if I'm gonna be riding over them at an angle.

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Flying Scot [946 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

The local chat from a colleaguein Edinburgh (which might be wrong) is that they were in seperate lanes travelling in the same direction when the rider got thrown into the adjacent lane and path of the mini bus.

Ive not ridden through Edinburgh since the tram tracks, I havent really seen how you would tackle them at this part, but certainly at Haymarket and further up near the mound there is no obvious safe path across the tracks for a cycle. The whole scheme is shite, dangerous and a complete waste of money.

Condolences to all involved in this incident.

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Stephan Matthiesen [63 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
Ush wrote:
userfriendly wrote:

The fix is simple and pretty cheap. There are hard rubber inserts made specifically for tram tracks to prevent bicycle wheels from getting caught in them.

 

Exactly.  Does anyone know of a reason why none of the products mentioned in EricD's post earlier this year (about another elastomer insert) are not installed by default?: http://road.cc/content/news/215067-device-answer-tram-track-danger-cyclists

 

Is there really any reason why this is not done?  

 

Somebody checked the details and it's not that simple. First of all, unlike other use cases, the problem here is not just one crossing but that you cycle along/near/across the rails for a mile, on a road with lot of heavy other traffic.

Apparently under these conditions the rubber wouldn't last long and would have to be replaced continuously. They'd also need to change some or all the rails for that.

This makes it an expensive solution overall, and if the council is prepared to spend this amount of money, then it would be much better spent on a protected bike lane along the route.

Also, the rubber isn't perfect. It only covers the groove itself, but when you have to cross at shallow angles, you still have the slippery metal rain and cracks along the rails, which all can lead to falls. So it's not really clear it would help much in this situatiuon where cyclists have to go along the track.

I have lived in Nuremberg, Germany, which has trams all over the place. I rember these rubber things were discussed there as well but in the end not installed, for the same reasons. Compared to Edinburgh there were only a few problem spots anyway and it was better/easier to redesign the cycle paths.

 

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Stephan Matthiesen [63 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes
Ush wrote:

Exactly.  Does anyone know of a reason why none of the products mentioned in EricD's post earlier this year (about another elastomer insert) are not installed by default?: http://road.cc/content/news/215067-device-answer-tram-track-danger-cyclists

 

Is there really any reason why this is not done?  

I had a look at those links.

The Strail is a rubber are between both rails, which is currently concrete. It also needs a different kind of rail. In other words, the whole tram would have to be dug up and relaid.

The Zürich experiment is simpler but still requires a different rail cross-section and costs 300,000 € for 90 metres. To do that along Princes St to Haymarket in Edinburgh, cost would be a few millions.

Sorry - these solutions are all experimental, only suitable for specific locations (a crossing over an off-road track, eg.), not along a major traffic route full of heavy buses, and extremely expensive.

If the city wants to spend a few millions, I think everybody would prefer not to spend it on experimental rubber but on a proper bike lane (for comparison, the E-W bike path costs about 10 million).

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BehindTheBikesheds [491 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes
Stephan Matthiesen wrote:
Ush wrote:
userfriendly wrote:

The fix is simple and pretty cheap. There are hard rubber inserts made specifically for tram tracks to prevent bicycle wheels from getting caught in them.

 

Exactly.  Does anyone know of a reason why none of the products mentioned in EricD's post earlier this year (about another elastomer insert) are not installed by default?: http://road.cc/content/news/215067-device-answer-tram-track-danger-cyclists

 

Is there really any reason why this is not done?  

 

Somebody checked the details and it's not that simple. First of all, unlike other use cases, the problem here is not just one crossing but that you cycle along/near/across the rails for a mile, on a road with lot of heavy other traffic.

Apparently under these conditions the rubber wouldn't last long and would have to be replaced continuously. They'd also need to change some or all the rails for that.

This makes it an expensive solution overall, and if the council is prepared to spend this amount of money, then it would be much better spent on a protected bike lane along the route.

Also, the rubber isn't perfect. It only covers the groove itself, but when you have to cross at shallow angles, you still have the slippery metal rain and cracks along the rails, which all can lead to falls. So it's not really clear it would help much in this situatiuon where cyclists have to go along the track.

I have lived in Nuremberg, Germany, which has trams all over the place. I rember these rubber things were discussed there as well but in the end not installed, for the same reasons. Compared to Edinburgh there were only a few problem spots anyway and it was better/easier to redesign the cycle paths.

How long does the rubber last and how much would it cost?

Is this cost more or less than the cost of a human life and the injuries sustained by other human beings?

it appears that you're saying do nothing at all as it's not completely effective and too costly , against the life of a person, simply put that's bullshit.

I really hope someone goes to prison over this but i doubt even a criminal prosecution will occur or even be mentioned.

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Stephan Matthiesen [63 posts] 2 months ago
1 like
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:
Stephan Matthiesen wrote:

This makes it an expensive solution overall, and if the council is prepared to spend this amount of money, then it would be much better spent on a protected bike lane along the route.

How long does the rubber last and how much would it cost?

Is this cost more or less than the cost of a human life and the injuries sustained by other human beings?

it appears that you're saying do nothing at all as it's not completely effective and too costly , against the life of a person, simply put that's bullshit.

I really hope someone goes to prison over this but i doubt even a criminal prosecution will occur or even be mentioned.

No, I'm saying that it doesn't solve the problem and that (see quote):

"this amount of money ... would be much better spent on a protected bike lane along the route"

Also, can you please leave out the personal attack? I didn't build this thing. Thanks.

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BehindTheBikesheds [491 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes

I haven't made any personal 'attack' ffs, get a grip! Your wording makes for excusing LA on the basis of cost/ineffectiveness, you didn't exactly denounce it did you?

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Sniffer [385 posts] 2 months ago
1 like
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

I haven't made any personal 'attack' ffs, get a grip! Your wording makes for excusing LA on the basis of cost/ineffectiveness, you didn't exactly denounce it did you?

 

All Stephen said was that the solution touted elsewhere on this thread might not be all it's cracked up to be.

He didn't make any comment on culpability and did express a wish that something else should be done.  Hardly excuses the LA.

I understand your anger, I share that with the waste of a life that was all too predictable, but I learnt something from a post that seemed informed and balanced.  Not always the case on Internet forums.

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Ush [932 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
ChrisB200SX wrote:

While the design may have caused the cyclist to fall, I would question if it's likely that the driver caused the collision and therefore her death.

 

I was initially fixated on the idea of a technological solution (some sort of elastomeric insert), but this is probably a smarter apportioning of causation.

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Ush [932 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes
Sniffer wrote:
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

I haven't made any personal 'attack' ffs, get a grip! Your wording makes for excusing LA on the basis of cost/ineffectiveness, you didn't exactly denounce it did you?

 

All Stephen said was that the solution touted elsewhere on this thread might not be all it's cracked up to be.

He didn't make any comment on culpability and did express a wish that something else should be done.  Hardly excuses the LA.

I understand your anger, I share that with the waste of a life that was all too predictable, but I learnt something from a post that seemed informed and balanced.  Not always the case on Internet forums.

 

It's understandable that we're all upset about this.  But I agree with both you and BehindTheBikesheds.  Vast amounts of money are spent on facilitating motorists which dwarf the sums which might be spent on mitigating tram track hazards.  But maybe the simplest solution is to ban automobiles from the lane?