Edinburgh cyclists have said a new stretch of tramlines in the city centre are 'lethal' for those on bikes - as video emerges showing a man having a near miss with traffic when his wheel becomes lodged in the tracks.
The video, acquired by the Scotsman, shows the new stretch of road at the Haymarket, which campaigners are now calling on the council to review before a more serious incident occurs.
Chris Hill, who runs the CityCyclingEdinburgh.info forum, said: “I wasn’t going ‘looking for crashes’, but I got one on video in the few minutes I was there. The video shows there is a need to make sure drivers keep well back.”
Campaigners say the road's layout could either be addressed, or the grooves in the tracks could be plugged with rubber, as they are in other cities in the Netherlands.
Zurich is also experimenting with rubber plugs at the points where cyclists need to cross the rails.
Green councillor Gavin Corbett said: “I believe we need to look again at how this section is laid out.”
Edinburgh City Council said it was planning to launch a series of videos showing cyclists how to ride safely around tramlines, in December, at the same time as trams are being tested along the entire 8-mile route.
One cyclist, Sara Dorman, 43, said: “I was at a safety briefing about trams and they were telling us it’s important to cross the lines at as close to a 90 degree angle as possible. But the actual engineering that went into the road design (at Haymarket) and the planning makes that impossible.
“You have to cross the tracks. It looks ridiculous to me. None of us want any more tearing up of the tram tracks at that intersection, but it’s extremely frustrating that these things weren’t thought through before.”
Ian Maxwell from the campaign group Spokes, said: “There’s going to be a lot of learning going on over the next few months as people get to grips with the new traffic layout and the tram tracks.
“We hope eventually that experience will build up. At the moment there are these particular places where you’ve got to be very careful because the design isn’t ideal.”
Last year we reported how a firm of solicitors who identified 74 separate tram track incidents there claimed Princes Street “is a fatality waiting to happen” – and accused the city council of wanting to “bury its head in the sand” about the issue.
Cycle campaigners have consistently warned about the danger posed to riders by the project, which has been dogged by controversy since it began in 2008, with costs spiralling out of control, contractual disputes, and delays which have seen the completion date pushed back from 2011 to 2014 with the network being less extensive than originally envisaged.
According to Thompsons Solicitors, the council also faces a wave of compensation claims from cyclists injured after coming off their bikes when their wheels became jammed in the tram tracks.
Transport Convener Lesley Hinds said: “We’re keen to take on the views of cyclists and other road users about how they feel the new arrangements on the road are working,” she said. “When the system was designed some years back the designs were consulted on.
“However, now work is nearing completion and later when trams are in operation, we understand that we may need to adapt signage, road markings and other elements of road layout.
“Once the project is complete we’ll be in a position to make changes if required and I’ve asked the Head of Transport to consider ways of gathering this feedback so we can act if required. It’s important that people get ready for the trams and that they know what to expect which is why we continue to push our safety message.”
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.