Like this site? Help us to make it better.


Edinburgh tram tracks claim a cyclist's life: reports that planners ignored advice to make route cycle-safe

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

Edinburgh tram bosses ignored warnings that cycle lanes should be installed along the length of the network, two years before a woman was killed last week.

Hans van der Stok, a Dutch consultant, told Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (TIE) that cyclists needed to be a priority, and even busy streets like Princes Street and Leith Walk could accommodate the infrastructure.

This weekend, Ian Maxwell, of campaign group, Spokes, told the Sunday Times that Stok’s report was “largely ignored” by TIE, the now defunct agency that spearheaded the Edinburgh trams project.

Princes Street was never furnished with cycle lanes.

Since 2009, however, at least 220 cyclists in Edinburgh have reported tram-related accidents, which typically occur when bicycle wheels slip on the smooth rails or become wedged in the grooved tracks.

“It was our idea to bring over Stok and after his visit, we had a series of meetings with Edinburgh council and TIE, but the end result is that they didn’t take heed of his suggestions,” said Maxwell. “It was very frustrating. The cycle lanes were lost on Princes Street because of the trams.”

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

Dr David Kluth, director of undergraduate medical teaching at Edinburgh University’s medical school said she was “a talented, thoughtful student”, adding: “We have all lost a bright star of the future.”

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

“The council and our partners take road safety extremely seriously and we constantly review the range of measures we have in place to ensure that the capital’s roads are safe for all road users,” she said.

Edinburgh tramline vs cycle path - photo credit Andy Arthur

Earlier this year we reported how Injuries caused be the tram tracks over the last seven years have resulted in a bill for the NHS of more than £1m, and the vast majority happened to cyclists.

Prof Chris Oliver, a consultant at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, has counted 252 tram track incidents, 191 involving cyclists.

The trauma and orthopaedic surgeon says that 119 men and 72 women were injured, with the most common incident being a wheel caught in the tracks, followed sliding on a track, which was particularly likely in wet weather.

The accidents caused 55 upper limb fractures or dislocations, eight sustained lower limb fractures and two facial fractures.

One sustained both upper and lower limb fractures and one had facial and lower limb fractures.

Add new comment


BehindTheBikesheds | 7 years ago

what does 'keeping your speed up' mean? how fast, what size tyres, if you are asking all ages/abilities to heed to that part which is not always possible for them to do so then it's not applicable and the shallower approach is not feasible/safe for all types/age groups/abilities.


A V Lowe | 7 years ago

Advise that this may not be quite the simplified "coming off her bicycle on the tracks and being hit by a minibus" from observations of the position of minibus post-crash and post-crash review of crash location.  Awaiting report which, by law, the Council should be carrying out, albeit with no requirement to publish it (Section 39.3.a RTA 1988).

It might be useful to check for previous investigation reports (FoI) concerning cycle crashes on the road between Haymarket and Waverley Bridge to determine the various causal factors (sunken manholes/raised manhole frames are a major hazard here), and also seek the second mandated duty of the Council to use the results of their crash investigations to make changes which eliminate or reduce the risk of future crashes (Section 39.3.b (& .c))

PS the safe crossing detail is not really right.  You can cross safely at a shallow angle if you keep your speed up and a proper control of the steering - going too slowly and your front wheel will turn and drop.  You will also slide and fall off if you make a 'strong' turn or brake when cornering when you cross at any angle. You will also notice that the tarmac or concrete is often cracked, and broken creating cracks an ridges as deadly as the rails themselves.  If you do fall get some good pictures especially the very transient details such as the marks left in the 'wet film' by a tyre skidding on a dirty rail, which disappear with the next vehicle to drive over it

burtthebike | 7 years ago

There is an institutional bias against cycling, with many schemes ignoring them and organisations refusing to acknowledge that they have a duty of care towards them.

As I've posted elsewhere, the Non-Motorised User (NMU) Review has to be mandatory for all road schemes.  When local authorities and Highways England realise that there is a problem with cycle provision at a particular scheme, they solve it by not doing an NMU, so that the problem disappears.  No NMU=no problem.

Unless NMUs are made a legal requirement, they will continue to dodge their responsibilities by pretending that there isn't a problem.

There are some cases, and this would appear to be one, where ignoring clear warnings should be seen as criminal negligence and prosecuted accordingly.  Put me down for a tenner for the crowd funded private prosecution, as I can't see the police or CPS going for it.

Latest Comments