ROGUE taxi drivers who block the road at Haymarket are set to face fines in a bid to cut the number of tram track cycle crashes.
Extra signs will also be installed at the blackspot warning cyclists to use the marked bike route to combat fears that daily falls on the newly opened stretch of the tram line could result in a fatality.
They made the commitment after a 12-year-old boy was reported to have become the latest cycling casualty at the intersection. The teenager is understood to have hit his head and needed medical treatment after coming off his bike last Thursday afternoon. He was crossing tram tracks near the main taxi rank on Haymarket Terrace at the time of the fall.
We revealed last week how queues of up to 15 cabs are trying to enter the Haymarket Terrace rank at any one time, despite the fact it has room for just three taxis to park legally.
The squeeze has contributed to the situation by forcing cyclists to dangerously weave into traffic and across tram lines at an unsafe angle.
As such, fines are to be slapped on any offending taxi drivers who let their cabs block the road. The blitz on rogue cab parkers is one of a range of measures to try to prevent accidents, which will also include:
•Actively enforcing the use of the taxi rank area to reduce the overspill of cabs;
•Sending a report to the regulatory committee on the management of taxis around Haymarket. Options include extending taxi facilities in close proximity to the station;
•Installing extra temporary signage advising taxis of rank limits;
•Reinforcing existing signage telling cyclists to approach tram tracks with caution.
The list of measures was released following a visit to Haymarket by city transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds on Thursday. She said: “We’ve been monitoring the area closely since it came back into public use and listening to the concerns of cyclists and taxi drivers.
“It’s clear that we need to make some changes in the short term that will improve the situation for cyclists who pass through the area.
“The most important message for cyclists is to cross the tracks as close to a right angle as possible and to take extra care to avoid getting wheels caught in between the rail grooves. Our new measures will help cyclists get into the right position by using the designated lane to cross tracks.
“It’s encouraging that cyclists have come to us with their ideas and we’ll be looking further at the suggestion to improve road markings in a way that guides them safely over tracks as they pass through the area.”
A cycling group, however, dismissed the planned changes, saying bike riders will be hard pressed to see new warning signs when pedalling in heavy traffic – or wet and dark winter conditions.
Anthony Robson, creator of campaign group Citycycling, said he would prefer to see special rubber plugs installed alongside the tram tracks at Haymarket to prevent bicycle wheels getting stuck, forcing falls.
He said the junction was already becoming a “no go” zone for cyclists, adding: “We don’t want them to rip up the tram tracks and re-lay them.
“That’s completely and utterly impractical, but signs directing you across tracks is pointless because the way you’re supposed to cross tracks is as close to 90 degrees as possible and it’s absolutely impossible at that intersection.”
Haymarket trader Alison Adamson-Ross said businesses had also been affected by the “flawed” traffic arrangements, with loading bays removed and general vehicles banned from areas where they normally deliver goods.
But Central Taxis director Tony Kenmuir welcomed the possibility of extra rank space, saying: “We’re not looking for additional parking space for taxis.
“When people come off trains looking for a taxi, we just want to be there for them.”