City of Edinburgh Council has today outlined a number of measures it is taking to address the concerns of cyclists and taxi drivers regarding tram tracks outside the city’s Haymarket railway station.
The council says it has already put in place short-term measures such as signage and enforcing a cycle lane to improve safety for people riding bikes.
It is preparing a report on taxi rank facilities, and says it will also be reviewing road surface options, and says that more action may be taken once a road safety audit has been completed.
As we reported yesterday, following completion of works to lay tramlines earlier this month, taxis are now queuing back into a cycle lane, meaning that cyclists have to approach the tracks at too shallow an angle.
A taxi firm director said that while cyclists and taxi drivers “weren’t each other’s greatest fans,” in this case “we recognise we’re being forced into a situation where we’re getting into each other’s way worse than ever before.”
Earlier this month, shortly after the road was reopened, a video shot by Chris Hill, who runs the CityCyclingEdinburgh.info, showed a cyclist falling off his bike after his rear wheel git caught in one of the tramlines.
The council has come under repeated criticism from campaigners regarding the safety of cyclists, and last year Thompsons Solicitors said it had identified 74 separate incidents involving riders and tram tracks.
The law firm described Princes Street as “a fatality waiting to happen” and said the council was guilty of trying to “bury its head in the sand” over the issue.
Today, the council has said that it is taking the following measures to improve safety at the location in the west of the city centre:
• Council to actively enforce the use of the taxi rank area to reduce the incidence of overspill of taxis
• Council to prepare a report to the Regulatory Committee for the management of taxis in the vicinity of Haymarket Station. This could include options to extend taxi facilities in close proximity to the station and sign these appropriately.
• Additional temporary signage to be installed advising taxis of the limits for ranking.
• Reinforcing the existing signage advising cyclists to approach tram tracks with caution and additional signage directing cyclists towards the cycle route.
• A road safety audit process is underway and nearing completion and further measures may result.
• Council tram team to continue to promote the cyclist/tram track interaction messages.
City of Edinburgh Council’s transport convener, Lesley Hinds, commented: “We’ve been monitoring the area closely since it came back into public use and listening to the concerns of cyclists and taxi drivers.
“It’s clear that we need to make some changes in the short term that will improve the situation for cyclists who pass through the area.
“The most important message for cyclists is to cross the tracks as close to a right angle as possible and to take extra care avoid getting wheels caught in between the rail grooves.
“Our new measures will help cyclists to get into the right position by using the designated lane to cross tracks.
“It’s encouraging that cyclists have come to us with their ideas and we’ll be looking further at the suggestion to improve road markings in a way that guides them safely over tracks as they pass through the area.
“We also want to make more provision for taxis so they can operate effectively in the Haymarket area.
“It’s important that everyone gets ready for the trams and now that the city centre is clear of tram works we’re keen to take on the views of road users about how they feel the new arrangements on the road are working and we’ll make changes where appropriate.”
The council has said that it aims to launch a series of videos showing cyclists how to negotiate tramlines in December, when it begins testing trams along the eight-mile route.
Its website includes advice to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists on sharing the road safely with trams. Cyclists are advised:
• Cross the tracks close to a right angle – this won’t always be possible, but by crossing as close to a right angle as you can you’ll avoid slipping on the tracks.
• Mind the gap - keep your wheels out of the tram tracks, especially when overtaking other vehicles or turning at junctions.
• Take care when cycling in the rain – the tracks will be slippery.
• Don't gamble at junctions – wait for the green light and until the road is clear, a tram could be coming.
• Look around you – trams are quiet, you may not hear them until they are very close.
• Think ahead and signal early – plan how you will cross the tracks and let other road users know your intentions.
• Know your limits - depending on the situation and your cycling experience, you may prefer to get off your bike at a safe point on the road to continue your journey.
Among advice given to drivers is: “Give cyclists space - they need time to cycle safely across the tracks.”
Edinburgh’s tram project, unveiled in 2007 and originally due to start operating in February 2011, has been dogged by controversy right from the start.
Issues that have plagued it include contractual disputes, delays in construction, and spiralling costs that led to a funding crisis.
The route that is hoped to start carrying passengers next May has been shortened from that originally envisaged, and plans for extensions have been shelved.
Completion of road works earlier this month brought to an end six years of disruption along the line, which runs from Edinburgh Airport past Haymarket and along Princes Street towards its eastern terminus at York Place.
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.