City of Edinburgh Council have issued a short video advising cyclists how to stay safe around trams as daytime testing in the city centre of the new transportation system, due to go live in May, began last week. But a cyclist who was injured in a fall while riding across tram tracks earlier this month says more must be done to improve safety.
Previously, testing from Haymarket to York Place, including the section along Princes Street, had only taken place at night, with daytime testing confined to the stretch from Edinburgh Park to the city’s airport.
The safety points outlined in the video – there are similar ones for pedestrians and motorists – is expanded upon on the council’s website, which advises cyclists to:
• 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.
Cycling campaigners have regularly raised safety concerns about the tram tracks after riders have come off their bikes ever since the first sections were laid in 2009.
In 2012, law firm Thompsons Solicitors described tram tracks on Princes Street in the city centre as “a fatality waiting to happen” and accused the council of trying to “bury its head in the sand” over the issue.
Fears intensified last autumn following a spate of incidents on a newly opened section of track close to Haymarket Station, leading the council to pledge to improve the safety of cyclists at that location.
However, earlier this month, 51-year-old Martin Finlayson of Stockbridge told the Edinburgh Evening News of the injuries he suffered when he came off his bike there.
The newspaper said he had recently returned from four months in France and so did not know of the reputation for danger that the location had acquired.
Mr Finlayson said: “I was cycling across one line and my bike came away from under me and it and I ended up in the middle of the road.
“If a tram or any other traffic had been coming along the carriageway towards Murrayfield I would have been severely injured and possibly worse.
“I suffered a cut on my leg, bruised ribs and a grazed hand. My bike handlebars have been bent along with the brake levers. My cycle trousers, jacket and gloves were all ripped.”
“My main concern is that this is apparently a known trouble spot but any work the council has done to improve safety for cyclists obviously isn’t working,” he added.
“Something needs to be done immediately before a more serious accident occurs.”
Speaking of the incident, the council’s transport convener, Councillor Lesley Hinds, city transport convener, said: “We’re sorry to hear about this accident and we wish Mr Finlayson a swift recovery.
“Incidents like this reinforce our message for cyclists to take extra care when cycling around the tram tracks, especially in wet weather when the tracks can be particularly slippy.
“We would also urge cyclists to heed the local signage,” she added.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.