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Council argues that where lines must be crossed at an acute angle, cyclists should dismount

Two lead cases have been brought regarding the dangers posed to cyclists by Edinburgh’s tram lines – but they will not be heard until May 2019.

Earlier this year we reported how injuries caused be Edinburgh’s tram tracks over the last seven years have resulted in a bill for the NHS of more than £1m, with the vast majority sustained cyclists.

Two lead cases have now been brought and The Scotsman reports that following a brief hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, a judge this week set an eight-day hearing in May 2019 for the two.

Lord Boyd of Duncansby also agreed to put another 39 actions on hold until September that year when a judgement would be available from at least one of the lead actions.

Elizabeth Fairley says that she dislocated her jaw and injured a knee after losing control of her bike as she approached Haymarket station travelling westwards in October 2013. Her wheel is said to have slipped on the tracks and then become caught in it.

This is said to have been one of “numerous incidents” resulting from cyclists crossing the line at an acute angle. She is suing Edinburgh Trams and the city council for £50,000.

The other case – a claim for £15,000 – is being brought by Ian Lowdean who fell on Princes Street in October 2012.

In both cases, lawyers claim that the number of accidents in Edinburgh to cyclists is “significantly greater” than in other cities where trams or light rail systems have been introduced

The council contests liability, arguing that the tram lines “… were clearly visible and did not present a significant risk of an accident to any careful cyclist exercising reasonable care.”

It said: “Careful cyclists requiring to cross tram lines should do so at as large an angle as possible, at slow speed and when taking care. If that cannot be done a cyclist should dismount.”

In June, 23-year-old medical student Zhi Min Soh was killed after coming off her bicycle on the tracks before being hit by a minibus.

Speaking at the time, a spokeswoman for Edinburgh council said it was “deeply saddened” by the tragedy and that a safety review was under way.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

15 comments

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Duncann [1158 posts] 3 months ago
9 likes

May 2019?!

Justice delayed is justice denied.

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burtthebike [1219 posts] 3 months ago
9 likes

It said: “Careful cyclists requiring to cross tram lines should do so at as large an angle as possible, at slow speed and when taking care. If that cannot be done a cyclist should dismount.”

Or in plain English "We designed it wrong but we're never going to admit it until you use all your money taking us all the way the the Supreme court.  And we've got a lot more money than you."

Count me in for the crowd funding.

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CarlosFerreiro [121 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes

The statement the Council gave doesn't appear to be enough to meet the designers legal duties?

Designers must:

  • eliminate foreseeable health and safety risks to anyone affected by the project (if possible)
  • take steps to reduce or control any risks that cannot be eliminated
Avatar
kevinmorice [146 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
CarlosFerreiro wrote:

The statement the Council gave doesn't appear to be enough to meet the designers legal duties?

Designers must:

  • eliminate foreseeable health and safety risks to anyone affected by the project (if possible)
  • take steps to reduce or control any risks that cannot be eliminated

 

If you want the to follow this then their solution is going to be a no cycling sign. Risk eliminated. Happy?

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jh27 [99 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

> “… were clearly visible and did not present a significant risk of an accident to any careful cyclist exercising reasonable care.”

I'm just swinging my fist...

> It said: “Careful cyclists requiring to cross tram lines should do so at as large an angle as possible, at slow speed and when taking care. If that cannot be done a cyclist should dismount.”

How large an angle? 180°? 360°? 1080°?

Avatar
CarlosFerreiro [121 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
kevinmorice wrote:
CarlosFerreiro wrote:

The statement the Council gave doesn't appear to be enough to meet the designers legal duties?

Designers must:

  • eliminate foreseeable health and safety risks to anyone affected by the project (if possible)
  • take steps to reduce or control any risks that cannot be eliminated

If you want the to follow this then their solution is going to be a no cycling sign. Risk eliminated. Happy?

That's the law, so it's not a question of "if". But no, a sign is not enough, the same as a dangerous swimming pool with a "no swimming" sign doesn't get anybody past their responsabilities there.

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ktache [627 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

Isn't one of the problems cycle routes crossing the tram lines at too acute angles?

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jh27 [99 posts] 3 months ago
5 likes

I think cyclists should follow the council's advice, to the letter. They should stop in the middle of the junction*, dismount, walk through the junction, get back on their bikes. Preferably as many and as often as possible.

* It's fifteen years since I've been in Edinburgh, I'm assuming the most dangerous sections are junctions.

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Al__S [1275 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

Some tram routes in London (and elsewhere) used to have the power supplied from a trech in the road, with a detachable "plough" that connected up through a slot in the cover (there were places that they changed to conventional overhead power). And there's a few places in France (Marseille especially) that uses a power rail on the surface of the road (no dangerous slot) that switches on and off in short sections when fully covered by the tram.

But then I don't think in Marseille they're as idiotic as to paint cycle symbols slap bang in the middle of the tracks

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nniff [209 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes

Call me pedantic if you will, but:

".....the tram lines “… were clearly visible and did not present a significant risk of an accident to any careful cyclist exercising reasonable care.”

It said: “Careful cyclists requiring to cross tram lines should do so at as large an angle as possible, at slow speed and when taking care. If that cannot be done a cyclist should dismount.”"

If it is not possible to cross the lines at a safe angle, then they must by definition present a signficant risk to a cyclist.   Dismounting in order to continue to make safe progress renders a cyclist a pedestrian, and such a recommendation must therefore be tacit acceptance that the risk to a cyclist is unaccceptable.

The fact that the hazard is clearly visible (in daylight at least) is not sufficient, not least of all because the hazard that it presents is both not readilly apparent and changes dramatically with dew, rain etc.  

I wonder why they didn't opt for a live third rail instead of an overhead catenary?  That would not present a significant risk of an accident to any careful person either ;o)

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dottigirl [808 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
Duncann wrote:

May 2019?!

Justice delayed is justice denied.

Yeah, exactly what I thought.

In the meantime, hundreds more will suffer life-changing injuries. 

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bauchlebastart [124 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

Words fail me

 

 

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gw42 [18 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

Have any changes been made to the junctions/layout in question? Have they put up any warning signs? Have they done anything?

Even if they could argue that the design is ok (which seems unlikely), they are now clearly aware of an actual problem and have a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent further injuries.

NB - action taken now should not affect the views of the judge either way. Judges should be more than capable of separating what could have been foreseen beforehand, without taking into account any corrective action which may or may not have been taken after injuries actually occur. 

Of course, I suspect most reading this site would say the problems were entirely foreseeable long before anyone was actually injured.

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burtthebike [1219 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
bauchlebastart wrote:

Words fail me

Please tell me that picture has been photoshopped.

If not, it is pointless suing the designers; they are clearly not responsible due to insanity.

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burtthebike [1219 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
CarlosFerreiro wrote:

The statement the Council gave doesn't appear to be enough to meet the designers legal duties?

Designers must:

  • eliminate foreseeable health and safety risks to anyone affected by the project (if possible)
  • take steps to reduce or control any risks that cannot be eliminated

Assuming that this is a quote, where is it from and does it apply to road schemes?