Expert’s cycle lane warning ‘ignored’ by Edinburgh tram chiefs

A cyclist heading East to West on Princes Street. Picture: Neil Hanna
A cyclist heading East to West on Princes Street. Picture: Neil Hanna
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Campaigners have accused transport bosses of ignoring a warning that cycle lanes should be included along Edinburgh’s tram network.

Cycling group Spokes said a consultant highlighted rider safety as a priority two years before construction started.

Zhi Min Soh.

Zhi Min Soh.

Edinburgh University medical student Zhi Min Soh, 23, was hit by a minibus and died on Wednesday after being thrown from her bike while crossing tram tracks on 
Princes Street.

Ian Maxwell, of Spokes, said Dutch consultant Hans van der Stok’s report was “largely ignored” by TIE, the now defunct agency that delivered Edinburgh’s trams.

Mr Maxwell said: “It was our idea to bring over Stok and after his visit, we had a series of meetings with Edinburgh council and TIE, but the end result is that they didn’t take heed of his suggestions.

“It was very frustrating. The cycle lanes were lost on 
Princes Street because of the trams.”

Mr Stok concluded that the city’s busiest routes, including Princes Street and Leith Walk, were wide enough to accommodate cycle lanes alongside trams and traffic. But when the first tram tracks were laid in 2009, cycle lanes disappeared from Princes Street.

Spokes helped bring Stok to Edinburgh, in the hope his know-how in road design would make the streets safer for cyclists.

Since 2009 at least 220 cyclists in Edinburgh have reported tram-related accidents, with cases involving bicycle wheels slipping on smooth rails or getting wedged in track grooves.

Tributes to Zhi Min Soh have been led by Dr David Kluth, director of undergraduate medical teaching at Edinburgh University’s medical school. He described her as “a talented, thoughtful student” and added: “We have all lost a bright star of the future.”

Her death has prompted calls for cyclists’ safety to be included in September’s tram inquiry.

It is understood Stok’s recommendations were rejected by designers for reducing pavement size and offering 
little benefit to cyclists.

Edinburgh Council said: “The recommendations from the report by Goudappel Coffeng were appraised during the early design process.”