Edinburgh council facing compensation battle over injured cyclists
November 29, 2012 1 Comment
Published in the Daily Mail 23 November 2012
TRAM lines in Edinburgh have caused injuries to more than 70 cyclists who are now demanded more over £1m in compensation, it emerged today.
Cycle lanes in Princes Street have been painted on top of the tram lines and riders keep falling off after their wheels get lodged in the track.
Several cyclists are set to sue the city and the lawyers representing them claim the situation is a “a fatality waiting to happen”.
According to a report published by Thompsons solicitors, 74 cyclists have suffered accidents since 2009.
The firm says it is a “disgrace” that despite the number of accidents, Edinburgh is sticking with shared tram and cycle lanes.
Patrick McGuire, a partner with Thompsons, said: “The situation in and around Princes Street is a fatality waiting to happen.
“In all the cases we are dealing with if the cyclist had been subsequently hit by a vehicle after falling from their bike then it is possible they wouldn’t be here today.
“It is a disgrace that the council is continuing to bury its head in the sand and is refusing to implement simple safety measures to ensure the city centre is a safe place for all who use it.”
Among the victims is cyclist Sara Reed, 40, who has been cycling in the capital for 20 years.
She fell off her bike and fractured her collarbone on Princes Street on October 23 when her wheel lodged in a tram line. She said: “I was lucky a taxi didn’t hit me when I fell, but the force of the crash meant that I broke my collarbone and sustained a head injury, despite wearing a helmet.” Reed slammed the local authority for not taking action to prevent accidents like hers.
She said: “It is staggering that Edinburgh City Council knows that many cyclists are having accidents as a direct result of tram tracks and have taken no action. “Edinburgh is no longer a safe place for cyclists – people are getting seriously injured and the council needs to resolve the situation before someone is killed.”
Cycling organisations have backed Mr McGuire’s calls for safety measures.
These include the removal of shared tram and bicycle lanes, marking all tram line crossings, appropriate lighting, and better signage. They point out that when Nottingham installed a tram network in 2004 the city put up warning signs and provided alternative cycle routes.
Chris Field, chair of the Cyclists Defence Fund, claims the number of accidents is even higher.
He said: “Local cycle campaigners had repeatedly voiced concerns about the hazards of Edinburgh’s new tram scheme.
“It is now all too clear that they were right – over 80 cyclists have been injured in Edinburgh’s main street and the trams haven’t even started running yet.”
In Blackpool, pedestrians and cyclists are not allowed to enter areas where trams run for safety reasons. However, Edinburgh transport bosses have insisted that their precautions are adequate.
A council spokeswoman said: “Experience of other European cities shows that trams and cyclists can exist safely together.
“It’s a priority to improve safety right across the city and the council’s coalition agreement commitment to invest 5 per cent of the transport budget on provision for cyclists will help us achieve this.
“We lead a cycle forum where we discuss the safe development of cycling in the city with cyclists themselves but we’re always happy to listen to new suggestions and ideas.”