An article published recently claimed that the Edinburgh trams have made a loss of £44 million since they were opened 10 years ago back in May 2014. Edinburgh Trams: Project has seen losses of £44 million since opening due to major borrowing costs (scotsman.com)

Financial and operational overview of Edinburgh Trams

The article claimed that the Edinburgh Trams project which was completed more than £400m over budget and three years late, had not run profitably since 2017. In fact, the Edinburgh Trams have only made a profit in 2016 and 2017. These figures are shocking and put a sting in the tail when paired with the fact that personal injury claims are continuing to be sought directly because of incidents involving the tram tracks in Edinburgh and there is no sign of these stopping.

Safety Concerns for Cyclists

Cyclists are forced to cycle over the tram tracks as they travel in and around Edinburgh City Centre. The tram tracks are not segregated from other traffic. This means that road users such as drivers, cyclists and pedestrians are all forced to drive, cycle, and walk over the tram tracks. Wheels of bicycle can slide or become stuck in the tracks, and this is particularly dangerous in wet weather.

Efforts and measures taken by the Council

Advice has been provided to cyclists to try and cross the tram tracks as close to 90 degrees as possible to avoid incident and cross safely. Of course, this is often difficult with the added pressure of traffic all around you. The tram tracks have always been a hazard and remain so for cyclists in Edinburgh.

Legal Support for affected cyclists

At Cycle Law Scotland, we have successfully helped cyclists secure awards of damages for injuries they have suffered after becoming involved in incidents with the tram tracks. Whether their front wheel slips on the track or their wheel becomes stuck and suddenly, they feel their bike being pulled away from them, we have helped them. We wrote about the two test cases that were heard in the Court of Session in a previous article (Cycling incidents caused by the Edinburgh tram tracks) and yet despite the City of Edinburgh Council being found negligent, they continue to deny liability in all cases. Each case is looked at individually by the Council and then settlement is agreed without the case being heard at Proof in Court. The idea behind the two test cases was to stop every cyclist having to raise a separate case in Court. The Council’s approach seems very counterproductive and expensive.

We submitted our own of Freedom of Information (FOI) Request to The City of Edinburgh Council and we were shocked to discover that a staggering £1,246.659.04 had been paid out in personal injury claims since the trams opened with a total of 688 tram incidents having been recorded. What is sad is that I can only see these figures increasing. The Council have made changes by adding signage and creating lanes to help cyclists cross the tram tracks, but what they cannot change is having the tracks on the road which is shared with other vehicles and bicycles. This will inevitably lead to more and more cyclists having incidents on the tram tracks.

Extensions to tram tracks

In June last year, the tram line was extended to Newhaven and we hoped that the Council would have learned from their mistakes and get it right second time around. However, whilst a segregated cycle lane has been created, the ‘zig zag’ cycle lane has now been voted as the worst in the world! There are talks of extending the tram route even further by creating a North to South route from Granton to The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. But the question is, will the Council get it right for cyclists? Perhaps, it will be 3rd time lucky!

Our advice for cyclists remains; take care when encountering the tram tracks in Edinburgh and do get in touch if you’ve been injured because of an incident involving the tram tracks.

Zara Jones, Associate, Cycle Law Scotland

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