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Meanwhile, lawyers slam City of Edinburgh Council for ignoring repeated safety warnings

 

Scotland’s transport minister Humza Yousaf is to meet cycling campaigners following the death yesterday of an Edinburgh cyclist when she was hit by a minibus after falling off her bike when its wheel got caught in a tram track.

http://road.cc/content/news/223470-edinburgh-cyclist-killed-after-bike-gets-stuck-tram-tracks

The 24-year-old’s death yesterday came on the third anniversary of the controversial Edinburgh Trams project going live after six years of construction.

Following yesterday’s fatality, Edinburgh City Council once again stands accused of having ignored warnings about the danger the tracks pose to bike riders

At First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood today, Green MSP Alison Johnstone, asked Nicola Sturgeon “what action the Scottish Government is taking to aid the inquiry into this devastating accident and whether the First Minister and her Transport Minister will meet with many groups and individuals who have been calling for safe conditions for cyclists and pedestrians in Edinburgh and across Scotland for many years to ensure no other family has to bear such an appalling loss?”

Ms Sturgeon replied: “Firstly, can I convey my heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of the cyclist who so tragically lost their life in Edinburgh yesterday.”

Adding that the government would help with the investigation into the fatality, she said: “The relevant minister [Mr Yousaf] would be willing to meet with cycling groups, not just in Edinburgh but across the country, to look at what further action we can take to make sure cycling, which is an activity we want to encourage, is as safe as it possibly can be for everyone who partakes in it.”

The Sunday Post reports that Ms Johnstone later said: “Our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of the young woman who died. While an investigation is under way into the circumstances, it is terrible that it often takes such shocking events to prompt a rethink of how we plan our infrastructure.

“Cycling should be a safe way of getting about our towns and cities for everyday activities. I’m pleased that the First Minister agreed to my request that the transport minister meets with campaign groups to discuss what can be done to prevent any further injuries or loss of life.”

Today, solicitor Brenda Mitchell of Cycle Law Scotland said Edinburgh City Council had "ignored warnings over many years."

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, she said: "The issue with tram tracks and their safety has been highlighted since the installation of the trams."

She cited figures released earlier this year by Professor Chris Oliver, a leading trauma and orthopaedic surgeon at the Scottish capital’s Royal Infirmary, who said that almost 200 cyclists had been treated for injuries resulting from falls due to the tram tracks.

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

Professor Oliver, who is also chair of Cycling UK in Scotland, said at the time that cyclists “have often been forced into the tram tracks by another vehicle that has pushed them into the direction of the tracks, so they haven't been able to cross them at 90 degrees.

"They have sustained a variety of injuries and some of those have ended up on the operating table. We have now done 29 operations."

In 2015, law firm Thompsons Solicitors, which is representing more than 100 cyclists injured in Edinburgh in similar circumstances, 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

In response to yesterday’s fatality, Patrick McGuire, a partner at the firm, said: "Almost two years ago to the day I spoke out about the need for urgent action to be taken by the council to make the tram lines safer for cyclists because if it wasn't we would be facing a fatality.

"No action was taken to make these safety improvements."

But a City of Edinburgh Council spokeswoman insisted it had “gone to every effort to raise awareness of the impact of the tram on all road users.”

She continued: "Since before the launch over three years ago we have carried out extensive awareness-raising activity both online and on-street, in partnership with other organisations, much of which has focused specifically on cyclists.

"As part of this, markings were added to the road at Haymarket to direct cyclists along the safest possible routes.”

It is worth noting that yesterday’s fatal incident did not take place at Haymarket, but at the West End of Princes Street at the junction with Lothian Road, another location campaigners have pointed out as being particularly hazardous for cyclists.

The spokeswoman added: "Like many other European cities Edinburgh now incorporates both cyclists and trams and, as in these cities, cyclists are advised to take care when travelling near the tram tracks."

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.

24 comments

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Grahamd [453 posts] 3 weeks ago
7 likes

Closing the door after the horse had bolted. They need to take immediate action to protect cyclists and then arrange a public enquiry.

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the little onion [157 posts] 3 weeks ago
7 likes

Interesting to see that the council's response to concerns was to "raise awareness" of the dangers of tram tracks for cyclists, rather than actually doing something . Because building proper infrastructure requires effort.

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SingleSpeed [309 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes
the little onion wrote:

Interesting to see that the council's response to concerns was to "raise awareness" of the dangers of tram tracks for cyclists, rather than actually doing something . Because building proper infrastructure requires effort.

 

Really? I don't care if this get's torn down as victim blaming but I've ridden push bikes and Motorbikes (advanced driver don't you know) for years and you need to be aware of all the potentially lethal hazards on every inch of the roads...white lines, manholes and diesel even drains. 

This is of course a sad tale for the family involved, but Jesus self preservation isn't the responsibilty of councils and governments, stuffing your bike wheel into a tram track comes into the realm of Darwinism in action.

 

 

 

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Sniffer [371 posts] 3 weeks ago
5 likes
SingleSpeed wrote:
the little onion wrote:

Interesting to see that the council's response to concerns was to "raise awareness" of the dangers of tram tracks for cyclists, rather than actually doing something . Because building proper infrastructure requires effort.

 

Really? I don't care if this get's torn down as victim blaming but I've ridden push bikes and Motorbikes (advanced driver don't you know) for years and you need to be aware of all the potentially lethal hazards on every inch of the roads...white lines, manholes and diesel even drains. 

This is of course a sad tale for the family involved, but Jesus self preservation isn't the responsibilty of councils and governments, stuffing your bike wheel into a tram track comes into the realm of Darwinism in action.

 

 

 

 

While I get the concept of responsibility for ones self, if as reported, hundreds of people are being injured from this set up I would also think we should do something to improve it.

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WillRod [188 posts] 3 weeks ago
5 likes
SingleSpeed wrote:
the little onion wrote:

Interesting to see that the council's response to concerns was to "raise awareness" of the dangers of tram tracks for cyclists, rather than actually doing something . Because building proper infrastructure requires effort.

 

Really? I don't care if this get's torn down as victim blaming but I've ridden push bikes and Motorbikes (advanced driver don't you know) for years and you need to be aware of all the potentially lethal hazards on every inch of the roads...white lines, manholes and diesel even drains. 

This is of course a sad tale for the family involved, but Jesus self preservation isn't the responsibilty of councils and governments, stuffing your bike wheel into a tram track comes into the realm of Darwinism in action.

 

 

 

I see where you are coming from, but I have been forced into potholes or across manhole covers several times by cars that have passed too close. It's a possibility that something like that forced the cyclist into the tracks. 

Obviously we don't know the full circumstances of the crash yet, and probably never will.

 

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HalfWheeler [596 posts] 3 weeks ago
25 likes
SingleSpeed wrote:

stuffing your bike wheel into a tram track comes into the realm of Darwinism in action.

None of us, including you, knows exactly what happened. This young woman's remains are still in the morgue and I can only imagine what her family and friends are going through and yet you still wrote the above.

You callous, ignorant bell-end.

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kitkat [426 posts] 3 weeks ago
14 likes
HalfWheeler wrote:
SingleSpeed wrote:

stuffing your bike wheel into a tram track comes into the realm of Darwinism in action.

You callous, ignorant bell-end.

+1

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cqexbesd [86 posts] 3 weeks ago
7 likes
SingleSpeed wrote:

stuffing your bike wheel into a tram track comes into the realm of Darwinism in action.

With enough crossings, eventually, at some point, every person will make at least one mistake. With enough people crossing someone will make a mistake quite regularly.

I make over a hundred crossings of tram lines every week and have done for many years.  Only once have I come off and thankfully I wasn't then hit by a car. Still that is just luck - it could have been so different.

It's not that I wasn't aware of the danger of tram lines - I didn't try to have a crash - its just that when trying to turn across tracks from a near and parallel position (i.e. the part of the road that isn't the tram lines, that bit where the bike path is) whilst dodging cars, pedestrians and other cyclists, eventually I too made a mistake. I am only human.

Do we really want a system where a single mistake is all thats between getting to work and death?

 

 

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ChairRDRF [354 posts] 3 weeks ago
9 likes

 

This is of course a sad tale for the family involved, but Jesus self preservation isn't the responsibilty of councils and governments, stuffing your bike wheel into a tram track comes into the realm of Darwinism in action.

[/quote]

 

I can assure yu that when a driver/car occupants are hurt/killed in a collision where the highway environemnt is seen as a problem, the hazard to the car occupants gets engineered out pretty damn quick.

 

However careful we try to be, as human beings we will ineviably make mistakes and  we shouldn't have to get a death sentence as a consequence.

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ChairRDRF [354 posts] 3 weeks ago
4 likes

 

This is of course a sad tale for the family involved, but Jesus self preservation isn't the responsibilty of councils and governments, stuffing your bike wheel into a tram track comes into the realm of Darwinism in action.

[/quote]

 

I can assure yu that when a driver/car occupants are hurt/killed in a collision where the highway environemnt is seen as a problem, the hazard to the car occupants gets engineered out pretty damn quick.

 

However careful we try to be, as human beings we will ineviably make mistakes and  we shouldn't have to get a death sentence as a consequence.

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esnifador [33 posts] 3 weeks ago
5 likes
kitkat wrote:
HalfWheeler wrote:
SingleSpeed wrote:

stuffing your bike wheel into a tram track comes into the realm of Darwinism in action.

You callous, ignorant bell-end.

+1

Make that +2! SingleSpeed must be a higher level of being to have never ever made a mistake that could theoretically endanger himself or others. I'm deeply envious.

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Ush [900 posts] 3 weeks ago
4 likes
SingleSpeed wrote:
the little onion wrote:

Interesting to see that the council's response to concerns was to "raise awareness" of the dangers of tram tracks for cyclists, rather than actually doing something . Because building proper infrastructure requires effort.

 

Really? I don't care if this get's torn down as victim blaming but I've ridden push bikes and Motorbikes (advanced driver don't you know) for years and you need to be aware of all the potentially lethal hazards on every inch of the roads...white lines, manholes and diesel even drains. 

This is of course a sad tale for the family involved, but Jesus self preservation isn't the responsibilty of councils and governments, stuffing your bike wheel into a tram track comes into the realm of Darwinism in action.

There would be ways to make this very debatable point in a more appropriate manner.  Please take some time out to consider how your family would feel. 

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hsiaolc [343 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like
SingleSpeed wrote:
the little onion wrote:

Interesting to see that the council's response to concerns was to "raise awareness" of the dangers of tram tracks for cyclists, rather than actually doing something . Because building proper infrastructure requires effort.

Really? I don't care if this get's torn down as victim blaming but I've ridden push bikes and Motorbikes (advanced driver don't you know) for years and you need to be aware of all the potentially lethal hazards on every inch of the roads...white lines, manholes and diesel even drains. 

This is of course a sad tale for the family involved, but Jesus self preservation isn't the responsibilty of councils and governments, stuffing your bike wheel into a tram track comes into the realm of Darwinism in action.

Last time I checked (dont' even need to) you don't need a driving licence to pedal cycle on the road.  

So no you don't need to be aware of those things you've mented because there should be a perfectly safe path for cyclists riding around town like other advanced northern countries of Europe. 

It is good to know and be aware but at no time being an expert driver even thought about you just said.  

It is so sad that this happened because it shouldn't and 191 cyclists injured because of tramline should trigger actions already. 

So someone should be held responsible for this lack of initiative. 

As for you well I don't want to waste my words on you. 

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Alessandro [107 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like

Humza Yousaf is a completely useless fucktard who, despite his grand title, will probably struggle to navigate his way into Edinburgh on the transport system that he manages. Expect lots of stern expressions and nodding in agreement before he does absolutely bugger all about anything and then blames everyone one else for the problems that he presides over. The fud has been caught driving without a licence and has openly declared that he's "no transport expert" (Google it) yet still he muddles on each day. 

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FluffyKittenofT... [1579 posts] 3 weeks ago
3 likes
ChairRDRF wrote:

 

I can assure yu that when a driver/car occupants are hurt/killed in a collision where the highway environemnt is seen as a problem, the hazard to the car occupants gets engineered out pretty damn quick.

 

However careful we try to be, as human beings we will ineviably make mistakes and  we shouldn't have to get a death sentence as a consequence.

Exactly. Does anyone think that if tramtracks somehow required gaps large enough for car wheels to get jammed in them, that they would have been put into roads with no modification?

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IanEdward [93 posts] 3 weeks ago
2 likes

The skills required to safely negotiate the tram tracks in some places are well above what we should expect of the average commuter, unless we want to turn 'normal' people off commuting by bike and make it the sole preserve of committed, experienced cyclists only.

It would be like expecting all motorists to have the driving skills of an amateur rally driver just to navigate the city streets.

Case in point: the right turn across the tracks as you head down to Waverley, in order to hit these at a safe angle, you need to swerve left, to give yourself the radius in order to swerve right again and hit the tracks at 90deg. Try doing this with taxis and buses breathing down your neck and trying to get up your left hand side. Personally I quite enjoy it, but I've spent 15 years mountainbiking and have no qualms about leaning the bike over and cornering aggressively. That being said I'm usually in full cycling gear with SPDs and no panniers, I wouldn't wish it upon the stalwart lady in her 50s I see some mornings in her suit and dress shoes with panniers on both sides.

Reading between the lines, Edinburgh City Council are basically now saying cyclists should be aware of the track tracks on Princes St, and then go cycle somewhere else. 

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CarlosFerreiro [117 posts] 3 weeks ago
3 likes

There are legal requirements for engineers to design out foreseable risks, and to document their whole approach to that. Of course people still have to take care themselves but the design should always try and minimise the consequences of things going wrong.

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UrkB [9 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like

My heart goes out to the victim's family and friends.

It does feel like there's some weird double standards here - nationally we do everything we can to make level crossings absolutely idiot-proof, not just bells and lights like some countries but full length barriers as well - but here Edinburgh Council has pretty much laid traps for the unwary or nervous cyclist, or just one forced off their line by traffic. It's one thing trying to raise awareness amongst cyclists, but drivers also need to be warned to give cyclists even more space than normal  around tram tracks.

In the picture at the top of the story, if you want to cycle along Princes St your only option is to ride in the middle of the lane between the tram tracks behind that bus (until you're past the first junction at least, even after that the bus stops give you litle option). You have very little room to manouvre if other traffic does anything unexpected/aggresive, or even if its just windy.

 

 

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hawkinspeter [671 posts] 3 weeks ago
2 likes

@SingleSpeed - you're missing the point about public roads and safe infrastructure. I get that tramlines aren't a problem to experienced cyclists, but everyone has to start somewhere and unfortunately some people have to be injured or killed just because the infrastructure isn't safe enough. There's also the cases where cyclists are forced onto the tramlines by unthinking motorists which can be difficult to avoid even if you are experienced.

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Morgoth985 [19 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like
the little onion wrote:

Interesting to see that the council's response to concerns was to "raise awareness" of the dangers of tram tracks for cyclists, rather than actually doing something . Because building proper infrastructure requires effort.

Yes, that jumped out at me too.  Also the nice formulaic advice for cyclists to take extra care when near the tracks.  Thanks for that.  But if it's other vehicles forcing people into the line of the tracks, I'm not sure how much extra care is going to help, unless it's exercising extra care by not cycling there in the first place.

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mike the bike [898 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like

 

Call me psychic if you will but I foresee a midnight gang of lycra-clad lads filling in sections of the tracks with quick-drying cement.  I believe they call it direct action.

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Grahamd [453 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like
mike the bike wrote:

 

Call me psychic if you will but I foresee a midnight gang of lycra-clad lads filling in sections of the tracks with quick-drying cement.  I believe they call it direct action.

What a brilliant idea. May need to insert a bicyle wheel at the same time in order to enure the rational for such action is understood, as the council appear unable to see the obvious.

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A V Lowe [608 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes
IanEdward wrote:

The skills required to safely negotiate the tram tracks in some places are well above what we should expect of the average commuter, unless we want to turn 'normal' people off commuting by bike and make it the sole preserve of committed, experienced cyclists only.

It would be like expecting all motorists to have the driving skills of an amateur rally driver just to navigate the city streets.

Case in point: the right turn across the tracks as you head down to Waverley, in order to hit these at a safe angle, you need to swerve left, to give yourself the radius in order to swerve right again and hit the tracks at 90deg. Try doing this with taxis and buses breathing down your neck and trying to get up your left hand side. Personally I quite enjoy it, but I've spent 15 years mountainbiking and have no qualms about leaning the bike over and cornering aggressively. That being said I'm usually in full cycling gear with SPDs and no panniers, I wouldn't wish it upon the stalwart lady in her 50s I see some mornings in her suit and dress shoes with panniers on both sides.

Reading between the lines, Edinburgh City Council are basically now saying cyclists should be aware of the track tracks on Princes St, and then go cycle somewhere else. 

It would appear that you must be very lucky - crossing any rails in the road (level crossing or tram track) and 'swerving' fiercely will put your tyre contact patch, at any angle on 2 smooth edges with no frictional resistance, and you will slide sideways.

Crossing tram tracks at a shallow angle you need to be moving forward with sufficiant inertia such that the forces trying to turn your front tyre to align it with the groove are insignificant against the force carrying you over the gap, and you should have robust control of the steering via the handlebars.  I've proved this to myself by riding at differing speeds across level crossings and tram tracks, and only when I've been slowed down have I found the turning force on the front tyre a problem. 

By way of discovery I actually recovered from a 'grooving' by powering down on the pedals do that the rear wheel (still in contact with high fricton pavement) provided the impetus to recover the 'wobble' and keep riding - all very much an instinctive reaction, from years of having rear and front wheel slides.

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A V Lowe [608 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes

I'd caution on the assumption that the victim fell because she was riding across the tram lines.

The indications are that both she and the minibus driver were travelling straight ahead to Shandwick Place and there would be no need to cross the nearside tram rail as there is a reasonably wide strip of tarmac between this and the kerb. There is however a manhole which is sticking up above the tarmac 3-4 feet before the point at which the scrape marks were left on the road by the bike being dragged by the minibus. 

Manholes and valve covers are sinking in the road beside the tram track slabs, and need regular repairs, one that I spotted was directly on the line taken by cyclists going South-North across Princes Street, noting that I'd seen it for about a month before stopping to look more closely. I later learned that someone had been brought down by it 18 months earlier, and despite making a report, it had not been fixed.

The track slabs are also cracking, lumps of concrete are coming out and leaving holes, and the stone blockwork in some places is also coming loose and moving.  My suspicion is that in the building process the stable and well compacted top layer (with 200 years of road traffic packing it down) was removed to build the new road and track, leaving the weak supporting ground (a glacial 'beach' sitting on a layer of fractured shale). With water this can be a significant liability - the nearby Scotland Street Tunnel had to deal with 'running sand' when it was being built. Short of massive work to deliver a new compacted layer there may be a long period of getting the disturbed ground and new manhole chambers to stabilise and stop moving around.