Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Edinburgh tram track safety warnings 'ignored', say lawyers

Princes Street, at its junction with Lothian Road

Warnings about the safety risks which tram tracks in Edinburgh pose to cyclists have been ignored, according to lawyers.

Brenda Mitchell, of Cycle Law Scotland, said safety issues had been highlighted since the tracks were installed.

The issue was highlighted following the death of a 24-year-old cyclist who fell in front of a minibus after appearing to get her wheel stuck in a tram track.

The council said it made "every effort" to raise awareness of the tracks.

The female cyclist died in hospital on Wednesday after the accident on Princes Street.

Police have appealed for any witnesses to the incident to come forward.

Ms Mitchell, who is also a member of the Scottish Parliament's cross party cycling group, told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme that in her opinion City of Edinburgh Council had "ignored warnings over many years".

She said: "The issue with tram tracks and their safety has been highlighted since the installation of the trams."

She highlighted figures from Prof Chris Oliver, the head of the trauma unit at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

In March, he produced statistics which suggested 191 cyclists were injured in incidents linked to the tram tracks.

Ms Mitchell said the casualties included 64 fractures, of which 29 required surgery.

Prof Oliver said: "It's a whole new range of fractures since the trams started running three years ago.

"We've had a lot of people who have been out riding or commuting to work that have collided with tram tracks.

"They have often been forced into the tram tracks by another vehicle that has pushed them into the direction of the tracks, so they haven't been able to cross them at 90 degrees.

"They have sustained a variety of injuries and some of those have ended up on the operating table. We have now done 29 operations."

Patrick McGuire, a partner at Thompsons Solicitors, represents 141 cyclists hurt after falling on tram tracks.

He said: "Almost two years ago to the day I spoke out about the need for urgent action to be taken by the council to make the tram lines safer for cyclists because if it wasn't we would be facing a fatality.

"No action was taken to make these safety improvements."

He said other UK cities with tram systems did not have the same level of accidents as Edinburgh.

However, a spokeswoman for City of Edinburgh Council said cycle safety was of "utmost importance".

"We have gone to every effort to raise awareness of the impact of the tram on all road users," she said.

Image copyright City of Edinburgh Council
Image caption The national cycle route to cross Edinburgh city centre avoids the West End by travelling along George Street and through Charlotte Square, a route marked by a red dotted line in this map

"Since before the launch over three years ago we have carried out extensive awareness-raising activity both online and on-street, in partnership with other organisations, much of which has focused specifically on cyclists.

"As part of this, markings were added to the road at Haymarket to direct cyclists along the safest possible routes.

"Like many other European cities Edinburgh now incorporates both cyclists and trams and, as in these cities, cyclists are advised to take care when travelling near the tram tracks."

Wednesday's fatal accident took place on a cycle route.

However, the council added that the official national cycle route in the city centre takes cyclists along George Street and through Charlotte Square.

Jim Hunter, 39, from Edinburgh, who commutes to work by bike said: "As a fellow road user I was really upset when I heard of the young woman who was killed on Princes Street on Wednesday so on my way home I picked some wild flowers for her and placed them as a tribute at the spot where she was killed."

Image copyright Jim Hunter
Image caption Wild flowers were laid at the scene by fellow cyclist, Jim Hunter

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