Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Tram fall cyclists to sue Edinburgh council

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Media captionDozens of cyclists are pursuing a claim against City of Edinburgh Council saying they have fallen off their bikes due to tram tracks

A lawyer is taking City of Edinburgh Council to court on behalf of 60 clients who claim they have fallen off their bikes due to tram tracks.

Stewart White, of Thompsons Solicitors Scotland, said the council was responsible for injuries his clients had sustained while riding.

The injuries include broken jaws, cheek bones and collarbones as well as a broken foot from a bus driving over it.

He has urged cyclists to report falls to the council.

Mr White told the BBC Scotland news website: "There is massive under-reporting from cyclists who are falling off their bikes as a result of hitting tram tracks.

"Even if a cyclist is uninjured I would urge them to report the fall to the council so we can keep pressure on the council.

"Cyclists are not being considered as the most vulnerable road user, it's really frightening stuff."

Image copyright Stewart White
Image caption The cycle lane at Haymarket Yards with a tram line going straight through it

He added that those claiming for cycling accidents included a senior police officer, a firefighter, a teacher, a professor, two doctors, a golf professional and an advocate.

The first test case is due to be heard at the Court of Session by November.

Mr White believes the design of tram lines and warning signs amounts to negligence by city transport authorities.

Individual payouts of up to £10,000 are possible if claims are successful, leading to a potential bill for the council of more than £500,000.

David Steele, 55, an elite cyclist and engineer who clocks up 7,000 miles a year on his bike, said he was in a lot of pain for six weeks after falling off his bike on 4 January at Haymarket.

Image copyright David Steele
Image caption David Steele is an elite cyclist who enters races abroad

He told the BBC that the way the road was marked forced cyclists to cross the tram tracks at an angle of 15 degrees.

He said: "You need to be crossing tram tracks at a 90 degrees. Less than a 45 degree angle should be avoided but at Haymarket you are forced on to them at a 15 degree angle, its criminal.

"I never fall off my bike but I couldn't see my back wheel and it caught in the tram tracks and I was off my bike before I knew what was happening.

"All my new cycling clothes I had got for Christmas were ripped, I ripped my shoulder, hurt my hip and elbow. For six weeks I had a very painful haematoma in my groin, which meant I couldn't sleep, ride my bike or wear underpants.

Image copyright Stewart White
Image caption The west end of Princes street showing a bicycle painted between the tram lines

"I am very angry about this. I think it is negligent and criminal that the council haven't tested the system for cyclists."

Lesley Hinds, Edinburgh City Council's transport convener, said: "Obviously we cannot comment on a pending legal case as that is sub judice.

"Road safety is of utmost importance to the council and its partners, and we make every effort to communicate this to pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

"With the launch of Edinburgh Trams, our 'careful now' campaign successfully targeted other road users to raise awareness of the new service and advise on how best to take precautions when travelling nearby.

"In terms of cycling, the council advises: 'Anyone cycling near to and around the tram tracks should take care while they get used to them, especially in wet weather conditions as the tracks will be slippery.

"It's best to cross the tracks as close to a right angle as possible and to take extra care to avoid getting wheels caught in between the rail grooves."

Image caption The first test case is due to be heard at the Court of Session by November

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