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Campaigners call for segregated cycle lanes on proposed Edinburgh tramway extension

New figures reveal that almost 250 cyclists have been injured through falls due to tracks since system came into operation in 2009

Cyclists in Edinburgh have called for a segregated cycle lane alongside a planned extension of the Scottish capital’s tram system.

Since the service came into operation in 2009 more than 200 cyclists have required hospital treatment after crashing on the tracks.

In May last year, 23-year-old medical student Zhi Min Soh lost her life when her bike’s wheel got stuck in a tram track and she was thrown into the path of a minibus.

> Edinburgh tram tracks claim a cyclist's life: reports that planners ignored advice to make route cycle-safe

According to figures released by Edinburgh City Council following a Freedom of Information response, some 248 incidents involving cyclists were reported up to 2017, reports Herald Scotland.

An extension to the existing nine-mile route is planned to Newhaven to the north of the city centre and local campaign group Spokes Lothian says that the safety of cyclists is paramount.

The organisation’s spokesman, Dave Du Feu, said:"What the council did last autumn was the easy bit where they didn't need to do much consultation, but another phase due to be implemented in the next month or so to do with advance stop lights and then another phase due to be implemented in the autumn which involve bit of physical work changing traffic islands.

"So they have this ongoing programme so they are kind of making the best of a bad job.

"It is not ideal but at least now they are doing all they can to rectify it as much as possible."

Speaking about the original plans for the route, he said that there were “quite a lot of stretches where there is a big reservation between the two tram lines and that means you are using up space that could have been used at the edge of the road for segregated cycle lanes."

The council, which has taken some steps to improve safety of riders when negotiating tram tracks on the existing route including a segregated cycle  lane on Princes Street due for completion later this year, is also facing a lawsuit co-ordinated by Thompsons Solicitors by 152 cyclists who have been injured due to falls.

Stewart White, a lawyer at the firm, said: "The legal cases I’m taking forward continue to make good progress and I’m confident that they will be successful not just for our clients but as a consequence will result in improved cycling provision on the relatively short section of road where cyclists and trams interact on Edinburgh’s streets.”

A spokesman for City of Edinburgh Council said: “Pedestrian and cyclist safety are of utmost importance to the Council. Like all UK and European cities with trams, we welcome all research that helps us improve cycle safety around tram tracks.

“We’re currently implementing four phases of measures to help raise awareness of how cyclists and drivers can keep each other safe around tram tracks, including road markings to guide cyclists along the safest routes and a communications campaign encouraging safe driving.”

He added that cyclists should familiarise themselves with Rule 306 of the Highway Code which provides advice on tramways, and says:

All road users, but particularly cyclists and motorcyclists, should take extra care when driving or riding close to or crossing the tracks, especially if the rails are wet. You should take particular care when crossing the rails at shallow angles, on bends and at junctions. It is safest to cross the tracks directly at right angles. Other road users should be aware that cyclists and motorcyclists may need more space to cross the tracks safely.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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