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Edinburgh Council looking into anti-skid coating for tram tracks

110 cyclist pursuing claims after being hurt in falls

Edinburgh tram bosses are said to be considering the use of skid-resistant materials for the city’s tram tracks with over a hundred cyclists currently pursuing claims after falls.

Jayne Crawford, a partner at Thompsons, the law firm representing 110 cyclists who have fallen on the city’s tram lines, says that with festival season approaching, it is inevitable that tourists will join their number.

“As each month passes, concerns grow within Edinburgh’s cycling community that accidents on tram lines still continue to happen.

“We’re about to enter the festival season when we welcome tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world. Many of them will choose to cycle around our beautiful city. I fear it’s inevitable that some will be injured on the tram lines in similar circumstances to permanent residents.

“The people who run our city know we all benefit greatly from these visitors and they have a duty of care to protect them as well as permanent residents.”

Transport leader Councillor Lesley Hinds told Herald Scotland that the council was currently looking into whether a skid-resistant tram track material might prove a viable solution.

"We constantly monitor new developments so that our resources can be targeted to ensure best value.

"We understand there is work ongoing to develop skid-resistant materials specifically for tram tracks and we are interested to see how this progresses.

"Cycle safety is of utmost importance to the council and to this end we continue to make every effort to raise awareness of the impact of the tram on all road users.

"We will continue to demonstrate our commitment to cycling in Edinburgh, prioritising cycle safety, alongside any development in the city."

Spokes, the Lothian cycle campaign, has previously said that collisions are happening to experienced riders as well as novices with the main black spot the route from Morrison Street to Haymarket Terrace.

Mary Ranson, a Geography student from the city, is among those pursuing a compensation claim after falling off her bike on Princes Street in March.

She told Deadline News: “I went to turn right and my front wheel got caught in the tram track and I fell off. When I looked up there was a tram there. It had stopped not far from my head. I ended up in Accident and Emergency and I have long-lasting damage to my right leg and it is never going to be as strong as it was.

“I’m pretty terrified of the trams now. I don’t enjoy cycling any more and I avoid cycling on Princes Street.”

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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19 comments

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Recumbenteer | 7 years ago
0 likes

I remain sceptical that any retrofitted "anti-skid coating for tram tracks" will work. Short of coating the rails with diamond grit, but magic diamond grit that somehow avoids being pulverised by the constant passage of steel tramwheels over said tracks, this seems unlikely to work. I suspect this is wishful thinking and will doubtless be rewarded by an expensive contract to a snake-oil salesaman who will walk away with good money for something that won't work and likely can't work.

I believe the advice should have been: Think it through carefully, before deciding upon a tram-system. Not apparently: install tram system first, then try and find an expensive and difficult retrofit to solve easily predictable problems.

Of course, the logical solution is to route cyclists away from tram tracks and only allow cyclists to cross the tracks only at perpendicular angles. No magic froo-froo dust required.

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WillRod | 7 years ago
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Why do they not address the real problem. The gap next to the rail!

Surely you could put in some high density rubber which sits at, or just below the level of the road and will only compress when a heavy tram rolls over it. It removes the gap when cyclists are there but deforms out of the way when trams come along. Problem solved?

Another issue is the layout, as others have already pointed out. 

The last issue, is why have trams? Can they not bring back trolley buses? Give them dedicated lanes just like trams, but no need for rails.

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Tired of the tr... replied to WillRod | 7 years ago
1 like
WillRod wrote:

The last issue, is why have trams?

Ehm, the trams just opened in May 2014, built at a cost of 700m pounds, and are generally a success (despite many stupid blunders), so they are not going to rip them out again any time soon, because the business case would collapse, there would be no income but the council would be left with all the costs.

Any solution will have to take into account that the trams are here and will stay.

There is hope for cycling though. The Roseburn-Leith cycle route, with protected bike paths along large sections, is in advanced planning. It includes a protected lane along the Eastern part of Princess Street, this is where many of the tram incidents occur. At Haymarket, this route turns off just before it reaches the tram tracks, but it offers many cyclists an alternative route into town that avoids the tram tracks completely. There is also a chance that the protected lane can be extended in future to go across Haymarket.

There is huge opposition against the plan (road.cc reported several times) but there is a good chance that it will be constructed in the next 2-4 years, which would address some of the dangers.

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Tired of the tr... | 7 years ago
1 like

Please read what @nnahler writes. I also grew up in a city with tram tracks all over the place, wondered what the problem was and thought it must be the self-rigtheous speedy fraction of the cycling fanatics. But when you actually cycle along there you see why falls are almost inevitable. Please don't comment without actually having seen the road layout in person.

The problem is that the road lanes cross the tramlines several times at a shallow angle, so you have to swerve left and right all the time, while you often have aggressive taxi drivers and (at Haymarket) lorry and car drivers on your tail.

If the tram lines weren't there, the road layout would require you to take the lane and remain in the centre of the lane. With the tram tracks, that's not possible, so you get dangerous overtakes all the time.

At Haymarket westbound, the tram comes from the centre of the road and leaves to the left, while the road has a right bend. It's one of the main arterial routes with really heavy and fast traffic. So you have to look backwards to make sure nobody's trying to overtake you while you cross the tracks while following the right bend and making a little swerve to cross the tracks at a better angle. Quite a complex maneouvre, and it's not surprising even many experienced cyclists crash.

Another hotspot is Princes Stree eastbound at Haymarket Bridge, where the left lane is the straight ahead filter lane but many taxis use the right lane (turn right) and still go straight ahead. The left lane then merges with the right lane which has the tram tracks in it, and the pavement creates a pinch point. So you have to cross the tracks at a very shallow angle but at the same time make sure there isn't a taxi trying to overtake at the pinch point. Again quite complex, having to look backwards and forwards at the same time while changing lanes.

@KnightBiker The person on that video is not one of the people sueing the council, he made that clear several times when the grumpy old commenters in the local rag with a long-held grudge against everybody rambled on about how cyclists should all be banned and how nobody ever fell in the 1950s in the old tram tracks.

I agree that the person in that video isn't handling the situation very well, but that's not the reason why hundreds of others have been in danger.

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KnightBiker | 7 years ago
1 like

Well seeing the youtube video doesn`t change my mind, i grant you guys that it`s not a pretty road design but it`s still similar to young dogs trying to run on water covered in green vegitation (don`t know the english name for that) , after doing it once the dog in question will remember forever. Also the design isn`t all that disimilar from some situations in amsterdam, although it is generally better for cyclist as a whole, and for feeling pressured by cars to hurry yourself past these tracks in an unsafe way: as a cyclist you have the right to take safe lines, cars should have a little patience. 

(and as @Ronald mentions: everybody in amsterdam uses bikes, from old lady`s to kid`s - no problems what so ever)

i was a little short through the curve in my comments of puposfully claiming but essentially: as a road user this is really your own resposibility, it`s really not impossible to cross these tracks in a safe way, even when wet. Putting all the blame on the council is really blatently undervalueing your own resposibility as a road user.

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vonhelmet replied to KnightBiker | 7 years ago
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KnightBiker wrote:

as a cyclist you have the right to take safe lines, cars should have a little patience.

Hahahahaha! Pull the other one, it's got bells on. And here's why you can't apply any logic comparing Amsterdam with uk cities.

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nnahler | 7 years ago
3 likes

I live in Edinburgh and I have not fallen victim to the tram tracks yet but also don't cycle,often in those areas.

As a child I grew up in a German city, Kassel, with a huge tram network.

When I first heard of people crashing on the Edinburgh tram lines, I also thought, how stupid, can they don't realise that your skinny wheel,gets cubit in the tracks when you cross them under a shallow angle?

That was until I rode from Princes Street to Haymarket for the first time. The road layout at several places, squeezes you out between the tram line and the curb. You have to,either cross under a shallow angle or swerve into traffic, risking being overrun by a bus. Then the tram line crosses the bike lane(!) under a shallow angle in a right bend. Again, you either end up in the tram line or swerve sharply out of the bike lane into traffic, not something following motorists can expect.

The design is madness and nobody thought about cyclists. They should have checked in Amsterdam, Karlsruhe, Kassel or many other places with a team network and large number of cyclists.

 

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tritecommentbot | 7 years ago
0 likes

What.

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tritecommentbot | 7 years ago
0 likes

I think the stooges defending shit Council planning should apply for a job at Edinburgh Council.

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FluffyKittenofT... | 7 years ago
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Ronald wrote:

Amsterdam has tram rails absolutely everywhere, and a rather abundant number of cyclists...

Either Amsterdam must have a dedicated cyclists fallen from tram rails hospital, or it has much better cyclists...

The situation in the video at Haymarket is also common in Amsterdam... We know to take care rather than ride like an idiot

It's also possible that the conditions are not identical in Amsterdam and Edingburgh. What with their being different countries with different road-conditions and different cultures. Tram-lines might be laid out differently at critical locations, or roads might have fewer other pressures for cyclists to worry about (like fast moving cars coming up behind), for example.

So, though I know nothing about Endinburgh, I'm not taking your word for it that any accident is due to people not being as elite and macho as you.

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Ronald replied to FluffyKittenofTindalos | 7 years ago
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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
Ronald wrote:

Amsterdam has tram rails absolutely everywhere, and a rather abundant number of cyclists...

Either Amsterdam must have a dedicated cyclists fallen from tram rails hospital, or it has much better cyclists...

The situation in the video at Haymarket is also common in Amsterdam... We know to take care rather than ride like an idiot

It's also possible that the conditions are not identical in Amsterdam and Edingburgh. What with their being different countries with different road-conditions and different cultures. Tram-lines might be laid out differently at critical locations, or roads might have fewer other pressures for cyclists to worry about (like fast moving cars coming up behind), for example.

So, though I know nothing about Endinburgh, I'm not taking your word for it that any accident is due to people not being as elite and macho as you.

I'm not sure I have been cloned to make the half million of cyclists in Amsterdam. Are all of those women, children, grannies elite and macho?

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Ronald | 7 years ago
0 likes

Amsterdam has tram rails absolutely everywhere, and a rather abundant number of cyclists...

Either Amsterdam must have a dedicated cyclists fallen from tram rails hospital, or it has much better cyclists...

The situation in the video at Haymarket is also common in Amsterdam... We know to take care rather than ride like an idiot

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DaveE128 | 7 years ago
2 likes

Two things:
1. Isn't it the gap for the wheel flange that takes cyclists out mot the slippy rail?
2. How are they ever going to make rails grippy with a surface that will survive tram wheels for more than a fraction of a second?!

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KnightBiker | 7 years ago
1 like

And now cyclist don`t have their own resposibility in traffic? These tram tracks are already there when being crossed and it`s a matter of physics that your wheel can get caught when not properly angled when crossing. In amsterdam you don`t hear these complaints while trams and cyclist co-exist in the same spaces. Also most trams have a catch-system so you could not be caught underneath a tram. People who try to claim for this instance of accidents are crazy and i wouldn`t be surprised if they do it on purpose in an american claim and sue everything and everyone culture.

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tritecommentbot replied to KnightBiker | 7 years ago
0 likes
KnightBiker wrote:

And now cyclist don`t have their own resposibility in traffic? These tram tracks are already there when being crossed and it`s a matter of physics that your wheel can get caught when not properly angled when crossing. In amsterdam you don`t hear these complaints while trams and cyclist co-exist in the same spaces. Also most trams have a catch-system so you could not be caught underneath a tram. People who try to claim for this instance of accidents are crazy and i wouldn`t be surprised if they do it on purpose in an american claim and sue everything and everyone culture.

 

Clearly someone who hasn't seen how they've laid the tram tracks in Edinburgh. They were laid in the worst possible way to catch cyclists out. I bunny hop them to get across in some parts, not everyone can do that, most commuters have panniers, backpacks, heavy bikes, aren't clipped in etc. 

 

I always post this, need to find more of different areas so people can get a better idea of what they've done.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAVD4EXb8_M

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kevinmorice replied to tritecommentbot | 7 years ago
0 likes

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAVD4EXb8_M

 

 

Come off it, it is a pishing wet day and he is nipping on. The tram tracks may have been at the site of his accident, but he could equally have done the same on any bit of road paint in those conditions. Also since he ignores the specially coated grippy bike lanes and insists on riding in the shared traffic lane he is placing himself at additional risk of exactly that incident, so my sympathy is minimal.  

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FluffyKittenofT... replied to kevinmorice | 7 years ago
1 like
kevinmorice wrote:

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAVD4EXb8_M

 

 

Come off it, it is a pishing wet day and he is nipping on. The tram tracks may have been at the site of his accident, but he could equally have done the same on any bit of road paint in those conditions. Also since he ignores the specially coated grippy bike lanes and insists on riding in the shared traffic lane he is placing himself at additional risk of exactly that incident, so my sympathy is minimal.  

Since when have "bits of road paint" had deep indentations running almost-parallel to people's direction-of-travel?

I just don't believe that if tram lines had gaps wide enough for car-wheels to get stuck in that motorists would happily accept it was just up to them to have the 'skill' to avoid them. Hell, half the time they can't even stay between the kerbs without crash barriers or fences keeping them there.

off-topic anti-tram rant deleted.

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brooksby replied to KnightBiker | 7 years ago
0 likes
KnightBiker wrote:

And now cyclist don`t have their own resposibility in traffic? These tram tracks are already there when being crossed and it`s a matter of physics that your wheel can get caught when not properly angled when crossing. In amsterdam you don`t hear these complaints while trams and cyclist co-exist in the same spaces. Also most trams have a catch-system so you could not be caught underneath a tram. People who try to claim for this instance of accidents are crazy and i wouldn`t be surprised if they do it on purpose in an american claim and sue everything and everyone culture.

But isn't the point more to do with the angles at which cyclists are forced to cross the tram lines?  If you are in a cycle lane and have to cross the tram lines, you don't have the luxury of just swerving to cross at nearly a right angle, if there's also following motor traffic, do you? Otherwise you'd get run down and then blamed for "just swerving out in front of me ". And, I don't think Scotland has the same litigationist culture (sue everyone!) as the US (yet), so you can stop projecting.  1

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tritecommentbot | 7 years ago
0 likes

If anyone hasn't cycled in Edinburgh any time recently..

 

best keep it that way. The place is run by a special breed of halfwit. They have a reverse meritocracy for Council positions.

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