Spokes: ‘safety measures could have reduced chances of tram track tragedy’

The scene of the accident at the West End of Princes Street. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
The scene of the accident at the West End of Princes Street. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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Cycling campaign group Spokes has said the chances of yesterday’s tragic events on Princes Street could have been reduced had certain safety measures been put in place.

The group spoke out after a 24-year-old cyclist sadly lost her life after falling and being hit by a minibus after one of her bike’s wheels got caught in a tram track.

The incident happened at the junction of Princes Street and Lothian Road at around 8.30am yesterday morning (Wednesday).

Speaking after the incident, Spokes member David Du Feu said changes such as advanced traffic lights for cyclists could help address safety problems associated with the tram tracks at the West End junction.

He said: “It’s impossible to look at one particular accident and say this would have been prevented but on the other hand if either of those measures as suggested had been in place it might have reduced the chances of it happening.

“An awful lot of these problems are to do with the layout of the tramlines which was all decided about ten to 15 years ago.

“We made a big effort at the time to try and get cyclists and pedestrians more consideration in the layout and that wasn’t done.”

READ MORE: Tram lawyers: ‘We warned you 2 years ago a cyclist would die’

Mr Du Feu said the introduction of coloured cycleways at Haymarket had helped reduce the frequency of road accidents in that area.

He said: “The worst blackspot by far was the one at Haymarket and they [the council] put in that coloured cycle lane. That’s far from perfect but it has reduced the number of crashes considerably.

“It’s so bright it makes people aware of the danger.”

However Mr Du Feu said the coloured cycle lanes could not be considered a full solution at Haymarket and added they were not necessarily the answer at other cycling blackspots.

Mr Du Feu said the West End junction - the site of yesterday’s collision - was more complex due to its heavy flow of traffic.

He pointed to advanced traffic lights for cyclists as one possible solution to increase safety as they cross the tram lines.

“[That] would give you an extra four or five seconds to cross the tramlines before the motor traffic comes,” he said.

“I think that would solve a lot of the problems because you won’t have the pressure of the traffic beside you and if you did get caught the traffic would have time to stop.”

In the Spokes bulletin 123, the group also suggested a crossing at the junction as another possible option.