Alastair Dalton: Part of the problem is Edinburgh forgot how to live with its trams

Zhi Min Soh of Malaysia''died after her tire got taught in the tram tracks.
Zhi Min Soh of Malaysia''died after her tire got taught in the tram tracks.
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Campaigners have warned for years that the lack of segregation between cyclists and other traffic has meant Edinburgh’s tram tracks pose a deadly danger.

As some 200 riders have learned at the cost of 
significant injuries, crossing the tracks at the wrong angle – often forced by other vehicles – comes at a significant risk.

Bike wheels can slide into the tracks, catapulting riders onto the ground and a trip to A&E.

There has now been a death too, while the city council is being sued by many of those injured.

The council said consultations had already been underway between experts and cycling groups to develop improvements, and the work was “ongoing” when the fatality occurred.

But if anything, it is surprising that such safety measures had not been devised and implemented before now, more than three years after the tram line opened.

At least the council has pledged that the improvements will be designed in as part of the planned extension to Newhaven.

Part of the problem is that Edinburgh has forgotten how to live with its trams, after half a century without them.

The capital had rails on the streets for 85 years before the system was scrapped in 1956.

By contrast, cyclists in European cities which never lost their trams are trained at a very young age how to cross the tracks safely.

The council said it had followed Dutch design standards for its turning lanes, which appear to be a UK first.

However, it remains to be seen whether Edinburgh’s version will really give cyclists enough space to cross at right angles as they do on the Continent.

This is because junctions there are designed to give 
riders turning right the 
extra room to steer left first before turning round to the right, so they meet the tracks squarely.

The new manoeuvres which may be necessary could take both cyclists and drivers some getting used to – so the need for educating both sides will be paramount in making this a success.