Safe cycle lanes to cross tram tracks after student death

Cyclists will soon be able to cross tram tracks safely. ''Picture: Ian Rutherford
Cyclists will soon be able to cross tram tracks safely. ''Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Lanes for cyclists to cross tram tracks safely are to be installed next week following the death of a student.

The red anti-skid lanes at five junctions in Edinburgh city centre are part of the first stage of £230,000 of safety improvements.

Unique new road signs will also warn drivers to give cyclists space to prevent them being forced to cross tram lines at dangerously sharp angles.

Zhi Min Soh, 23, from Malaysia, died in May while apparently trying to turn right across the tracks from Shandwick Place into Queensferry Street.

A wheel of the Edinburgh University medical student’s bicycle is thought to have become stuck in a track when she was hit by a minibus.

More than 250 people including 191 cyclists have been injured by the tram tracks at a cost of some £1.25 million to the NHS. More than 100 are suing the city council.

Three new turning lanes, with red chips embedded in the surface, will be installed where the student died.

The council said the measures were being considered before the incident, although not at that location.

New turning lanes will also help cyclists turn right from York Place into Elder Street, and from Princes Street to Waverley Bridge, South St David Street and Frederick Street. The same screed surfacing will be added to cycle lanes in Haymarket Yards.

They are designed to guide cyclists to cross tracks at an angle of 45 to 90 degrees.

The crossings will be accompanied by new-style signs, which have to be approved by the Scottish Government, warning drivers to give cyclists space beside and in front of them.

The council said motorists should avoid driving over the new lanes when cyclists were turning right.

They should also stay 40ft (12m), or the length of a bus, behind a cyclist indicating to turn across the tram tracks.

The work, costing £30,000, is due to be completed by the end of October.

It will be followed by a further £200,000 of work, to be finished in a year’s time.

This will include changes to traffic lights and advanced stop lines for cyclists at six locations by April.

The third phase will involve a new section of segregated cycle lane on Princes Street.

Further work at a later date will see “substantive changes” to the west end junction of Princes Street/Shandwick Place/Queensferry Street/Hope Street to improve safety, and will include a new Queensferry Street pedestrian crossing.

There are also plans for improvements at Haymarket, where many of the cycle injuries have occurred.

Transport convener Lesley Macinnes said: “The measures will help demonstrate the safest angle to cross the tracks at five key points, which we know will be especially welcomed by less confident cyclists.”

She said the measures had been devised in consultation with cycling groups Spokes and Sustrans. Dave du Feu of Spokes, said: “We welcome the council’s three-phase project to tackle tram line-related cyclist crashes and injuries.

“The council rightly recognises many crashes occur because traffic pressures force the cyclist into the tram lines at a poor angle. We therefore particularly welcome the phase one ‘Give Cyclists Space’ signs and publicity.

“We urge the council to progress rapidly with the consultations and traffic orders required for phases two and three, and look forward to discussing these plans.”

Katherine Soane, senior officer, transport integration, for Sustrans, said: “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.”