Tram fall cyclists to sue ‘negligent’ council

David Steel. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
David Steel. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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Dozens of cyclists who have suffered broken bones and ligament damage after slipping on tram tracks are set to sue the council.

Up to 60 bikers left with breaks, sprains and fractures after accidents are being represented by Thompsons Solicitors, with the first test case due to be heard at the Court of Session by November.

Lawyers believe that the design of tram lines and warning signs amount to negligence by city transport authorities.

Individual payouts of up to £10,000 are possible if claims are successful, leading to a potential bill for the council of more than £500,000.

One cyclist has told the Evening News how he was nearly crushed by a bus when he came off his bike crossing tram tracks at Haymarket.

Another described how he had to have a metal plate inserted into his wrist on Christmas Eve after it was smashed in a fall on Princes Street.

Thompsons said a third escaped with a fractured foot after being run over by a bus following a tumble.

Stewart White, an associate dealing with accident claims at the law firm, said several new injuries were occurring every month, with two new clients making claims in the past week.

He said: “We’re hopeful that we will get a successful judgement. We’re confident of proceeding and that a successful judgement will pave the way for settling the remainder.

“The council have repudiated liability in every case. The position has been that the tram tracks are there to be seen, and that’s it. That’s simply not good enough.

“The bottom line is that they have removed cycling provision and they have replaced it with the tram system, which is essentially a railway through the city centre. What’s a cyclist supposed to do in that environment?

“Quite astonishingly, they have painted a bicycle between the tram tracks in the West End. That more or less guides cyclists between the tram tracks. They then can’t get to the acute angle they need to safely cross the line.”

Keen cyclist Duncan Wallace, 43, is considering lodging a claim after smashing his wrist in December, requiring surgery on Christmas Eve to insert a metal plate.

He said: “It was a wet day and my tram wheels slipped into the tram track. When that happens, you have no choice, your bike just collapses. As I fell, my wrist was jammed into the raised central reservation in the middle of Princes Street and was smashed really badly.”

Mr Wallace was taken to hospital by a taxi driver, who stopped traffic and also took the cyclist’s bike home.

Mr Wallace added: “I don’t think caution signs are good enough because I’m already cautious. I was going cautiously at five miles per hour.” Transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said the council could not comment on pending legal cases. But she added: “In terms of cycling, the council advises anyone cycling near to and around the tram tracks should take care while they get used to them, especially in wet weather conditions as the tracks will be slippery.

“Though the trams are now a familiar sight on the city’s streets after more than six months of service, this is no grounds for complacency, and we must continue to promote safety messages to the public, especially at this time of year when the nights are darker.”

‘I was almost crushed by bus’

David Steel, 55, says his head was nearly crushed when he fell off his bike while crossing tram tracks at Haymarket.

“I got my front wheel across the first tram track and the next thing I know, I’m lying on my back looking up at a bus which is just over the top of my head,” he said. “If it hadn’t stopped, I was crushed.

“My jacket was ruined and when I took it off there was blood all down my elbow. My trousers were ruined as well, and all the skin was taken off my hip. I didn’t feel well, so I sat down and started shaking uncontrollably.”

Mr Steel said the tram lines were a “death trap”.

BAD BREAKS

Between 50 and 60 cyclists are set to make claims against the council for negligence.

A third of them sustained fractures or breaks in falls, including three with broken collarbones and three with broken wrists.

One suffered broken toes after being run over by a bus. The rest sustained cuts and bruises, sprains or ligament damage.