Making Edinburgh’s tram safer for cyclists…



Below is a briefing on this: 

New red-surfaced cycle lanes are to be installed at a number of key points along the tram route in Edinburgh’s city centre.

The measures, the first in a three-phase project to help all road users keep themselves and each other safe when negotiating the tram tracks, are aimed at demonstrating the optimum angle for crossing the tracks and reminding motorists to give cyclists extra space, particularly where tramlines are concerned.

The red-screeded cycle lanes will offer those on bikes the safest route to cross the tram tracks to avoid slipping or getting their wheels stuck.

A report going before the Council’s Transport and Environment Committee on 5 October details the changes, which will be rolled out over the coming weeks, along with warning signs and a multi-channel publicity and awareness campaign.

The campaign will urge all road users to “look out for each other”, stressing the need for drivers to give cyclists ample space when they’re manoeuvring into the safest position for crossing tram tracks.

These initial measures, or Phase 1 in the project, involve new road markings at:

  • York Place into Elder Street
  • Shandwick Place into Queensferry Street
  • Princes Street on to Waverley Bridge
  • Princes Street into South St David Street
  • Princes Street into Frederick Street

There will also be red surfacing added to the existing cycle lane at Haymarket Yards.

Consultations have been under way for some time between specialist consultants working on the Council’s behalf and cycling groups, including Spokes and Sustrans, to assess areas of potential conflict between cyclists and tramlines in the city centre and develop proposals for improvements.

This work was ongoing when a fatal collision occurred on 31 May at the junction of Shandwick Place and Queensferry Street, in which Malaysian student Zhi Min Soh tragically lost her life.

On 29 June 2017, the Council approved a motion calling for a number of actions to be undertaken to improve conditions for vulnerable road users in the city centre and at various locations along the tram route.  These actions included undertaking reviews of infrastructure at the junction at the west end of Princes Street where the fatal collision happened, and of tram infrastructure in the city centre and at South Gyle/Edinburgh Park to enhance pedestrian and cyclist safety and convenience.  The motion also called for the design of any future tram line extension to reflect Council policies to prioritise pedestrian and cyclist safety and convenience.

Dave Du Feu, speaking on behalf of Spokes, said: “Spokes welcomes the Council’s 3-phase project to tackle tramline-related cyclist crashes and injuries.

“The Council rightly recognises that many crashes occur because traffic pressures force the cyclist into the tramlines at a poor angle.   We therefore particularly welcome the phase 1 “Give Cyclists Space” signs and publicity.”

“We urge the Council to progress rapidly with the consultations and Traffic Orders required for phases 2 and 3, which entail changes to traffic lights, road layouts, etc.   We look forward to discussing these plans.”

“Furthermore, Spokes welcomes the motion passed at the first meeting of the new Council, promising that any tramline extension would “prioritise pedestrian and cyclist safety and convenience, including consideration of segregated cycle lanes.”

Katherine Soane, Senior Officer, Transport Integration, Sustrans, said: “Sustrans welcomes the Council’s proposals around crossing tram tracks.

“This is an excellent first step in getting people on bikes to be more aware of the best angle to cross tram tracks, and we look forward to a more wide-reaching programme around safety where vulnerable road users interact with motorists.”

The new road markings will be promoted alongside the following guidance:

Advice for drivers

Give cyclists extra space, not just to the side but from behind. They need time to cycle safely near tram tracks.

If you see a cyclist indicating to turn across the tracks, you should stay at least 12 metres behind them – this is the length of 2 ½ cars or a bus.

Avoid driving on the red cycle lanes when cyclists are turning right at:

  • York Place into Elder Street
  • Shandwick Place into Queensferry Street
  • Princes Street onto Waverley Bridge
  • Princes Street into South St David Street
  • Princes Street into Frederick Street

Think ahead and signal early. Let other people using the road know what you are doing.


Advice for cyclists

Cross the tracks at least at 45 degrees.  If you can’t, you should get off your bike to avoid slipping on the tracks or getting your wheels stuck.

Avoid leaning when crossing the tram tracks.

Take care when cycling in the rain, the tracks will be slippery.

Think ahead and signal early. Plan how you will cross the tracks and let people using the road know what you are doing.

If there is a red cycle lane where you are turning, please use it as it offers the safest route to crossing the tram tracks.

Know your limits. Depending on the situation and your cycling experience, you may prefer to get off your bike at a safe point on the road to continue your journey.


Further information

Phase 2 in the project, expected for completion by April 2018, will include improvements to Advanced Stop Lines for cyclists and traffic signals apparatus at six city centre locations.

Meanwhile, Phase 3, expected to be completed in autumn 2018, will include a short length of new segregated cycle lane on Princes Street. This timescale is dependent on successful promotion of redetermination orders.

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