Last month saw the first tram in 50 years in operation, during the day, on Princes Street Edinburgh. Although this was greeted with a certain level of excitement, it was also clouded by cyclists’ fears over the dangers trams create.
Issues between cyclists and trams
In 2012, cyclists were left baffled and confused by early road markings on tramlines on Princes Street. These road markings led cyclists to believe that bicycle lanes were going to run in the same lane as the tramlines!
Kim Harding, a qualified bike trainer stated, “I don’t understand what they’re doing there. You assume it is a bike lane because they’ve painted bikes on the road, yet the advice previously has been to not ride between the tracks”.
The City of Edinburgh Council later issued a statement, which said, “cyclists should not ride between the tracks”, and advised them to “carry on if a tram is behind them”. But this was just the start of issues raised by cyclists, as serious safety concerns have been brought to the council’s attention more recently.
Daily cycling disruptions and dangers
According to reports, falls involving cyclists are occurring regularly on a newly opened stretch of tramline at Haymarket in Edinburgh’s West End.
But why are the tramlines proving hazardous? Simply put, bicycle wheels are getting caught in the tramlines causing cyclists to take a tumble.
One such accident was caught on video with the rider stating afterwards “My wheel got caught in the tram track and next thing I knew I was like Superman flying through the air. I can see somebody being badly injured as a result of this. If you are toppled by the tram tracks you can end up in the road just as the traffic behind is accelerating.”
What’s been done to make cycling in Edinburgh safer?
Cyclists are calling for the city council to intervene and carry out some sort of remedial work to fix the problem before a cyclist is hurled under the wheels of a car or tram, or worse – killed.
While the council do seem to be actively trying to solve the problem, cyclists and drivers remain frustrated at the current situation, mainly because the problems cyclists encounter with tramlines was brought to the council’s attention a year before the reconstruction of the tram lines.
Therefore, some cyclists feel anything done now is too little too late.
Cyclists involved in bicycle accidents as a result of tramlines should contact Watermans to receive the best after care and legal advice possible.
Stay safe NOW!
While it appears everything is being done in the meantime, it’s important to take care if you are cycling near tramlines in Edinburgh by following these steps.
- This may seem obvious but, wherever possible, avoid routes with tramlines!
- Check what’s happening behind you frequently and only cross a tramline if you have no vehicles passing or about to pass you.
- Slow down to cross the tram lines – crossing at a slower pace means you will be able to deal with the tram lines more easily if you do get stuck.
- Cross trams at an angle as close to 90 degrees as possible – this will help reduce the chance of your wheel getting caught in a tramline.
- Watch out for tramlines in wetter weather – the steel can be very slippery!
And remember that you don’t have to use shared tram/bus/cycle lanes. If there is another lane open which leads the way you want to go, there is no reason that you can’t use it as long as you do so safely. Above all don’t forget – make sure that your bike is working properly and that you’re equipped with the proper safety gear, like a cycle helmet.
There are definitely mixed feelings surrounding Edinburgh’s trams. Cyclists clearly hope that the council will take as much action as is needed to reduce the safety risk currently posed to cyclists to reduce or minimise serious road traffic accidents.