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Edinburgh's cyclists to be given tramline safety lessons

Initiative follows series of crashes after Princes Street reopening

Edinburgh’s cyclists are set to receive lessons in how to ride safely across tramlines following a series of accidents on the Scottish capital’s main shopping thoroughfare, Princes Street.

The street was fully reopened to buses, taxis and bicycles on 29 November after more than two years of works to lay tracks for the city’s new mass rapid transit system.

But the BBC reports that since then, there have been at least six accidents involving cyclists who are not used to dealing with the tramlines. One cyclist, riding a recumbent, has even posted footage of his crash on YouTube.

Chris Hill from the website told the BBC Scotland news website: "The lines start in the middle of the street at the east end of Princes Street, they just come out of nowhere for cyclists.”

According to Mr Hill, “there are no signs or road markings to alert cyclists to the tram tracks and if one of the six people I have been told about, who have come off their bikes on the tram lines, had a bus behind them then they would have been squashed.

"It is simple stuff, we are talking about a bit of paint and some signs. At the moment the street is very dangerous to cyclists,” he added.

Mr Hill continued, "cyclists who are not confident are also going to avoid Princes Street, which is not what we want when Edinburgh City Council has signed up for 15% of journeys to be by bike by 2020."

A spokesman for Transport Initiative Edinburgh (TIE), which is in overall charge of the project, told the BBC: "We know from feedback from our consultation with other cities which have installed trams in recent years, that practical training sessions for cyclists may be helpful.

"With this in mind, Edinburgh Trams is funding a training session for cyclists which will take place next weekend.

"The training is being organised and carried out by independent specialist instructors, and is aimed at training and advising cyclists on how to ride safely in the vicinity of tram lines.

The session will be held this Sunday 13 December between 11am and 2pm, with the city's cyclists invited to come o Castle Street to receive instruction, which will include the opportunity to ride on a cordoned-off section of Princes Street, as well as in the traffic.

Speaking to the Edinburgh Evening Times, Susan Clark, deputy project director for Edinburgh Trams, said: "With the opening of Princes Street to buses, taxis and cyclists, it is important that care is taken to ensure that new traffic layouts and signage are followed.

"In particular, though, cyclists should take a number of measures to ensure their own safety when cycling near tram tracks. Other road users should also be careful not to force cyclists onto tram tracks and allow them plenty of room when passing or turning at junctions.

"Edinburgh Trams and the city council have worked closely from the outset with cycling groups, including Spokes and Sustrans to ensure a broad consultation."

Phase 1a of The tram system is due to be fully operational in 2011 and covers 18.5 kilometres from Edinburgh airport to Newhaven, with its 23 stops including Murrayfield Stadium, Haymarket, St Andrew’s Square and Port of Leith.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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