FALLS involving cyclists are occurring every day on a newly-opened stretch of the tram line at Haymarket.
The daily spills are happening because of the way the road’s tram lines snag bicycle wheels, sending riders tumbling to the road.
Cyclists say the city council has to intervene and carry out some sort of remedial work to fix the problem before a rider is hurled under the wheels of a car or tram and killed.
The problem lies in the way the road bends, forcing cyclists up against the indented groove of the tram line at an angle which causes their wheels to become trapped.
Concerned cyclists warned as earlier as April that there was not enough room for them to squeeze through without hitting the line, as evidenced by the worrying spate of accidents,
And while there were signs last night that the council is listening – after promising to investigate the possibility of fitting rubber plugs to alleviate the problem – there are fears remedial action will not be taken quickly enough.
Two-wheeled commuters are facing a daily battle of wits with tramlines outside Haymarket Station, with numerous accidents being reported following the stretch of road’s reopening last week.
Such is the frequency of the horror spills that a News photographer standing at the black spot on Monday captured two spills – one on video – in just a matter of minutes.
Dan Rudd, 31, from South Queensferry, suffered gashes to his leg and arm after trying to negotiate the junction, branded “lethal” by cyclists last week.
Footage of him being sent reeling was caught by accident on Monday. He said: “My wheel got caught in the tram track and next thing I knew I was like Superman flying through the air. I can see somebody being badly injured as a result of this. If you are toppled by the tram tracks you can end up in the road just as the traffic behind is accelerating.”
Cycling pressure groups say accidents have been taking place at the problem stretch every day.
Chris Hill who runs CityCycling Edinburgh.info said: “I think I was probably the first person to catch a fall on video last week, and since then there have been reports of several more.
“It’s inevitable that there will be more. One day there will be a vehicle following too closely.”
Cyclist Graham Hanratty, 41, from Prestonpans, was injured following a slip. While his accident is believed to be linked to road conditions at the time, he claims workers who came to his aid said they had witnessed a number of identical falls in recent days. He said: “My wheel didn’t get caught in the tracks, instead it slipped in the wet and I came crashing down. Luckily the taxi driver behind me slammed on the anchors otherwise he would have run me over. I’ve been left with quite a sore neck and shoulder. Thankfully my panniers took the major force of the fall.”
He added: “A number of workmen helped me up out of the road and they said that since the weekend they have seen at least five accidents, each one caused by the tram tracks.”
We revealed yesterday how cyclists have been joined by taxi drivers in calling for an overhaul of the junction, as limited rank facilities result in queues of cabs snaking out of the station into the road, forcing riders to weave into traffic and across the lines.
Police are closely monitoring the situation but cycling campaign body Sustrans Scotland said such extra scrutiny is merely papering over a deeper problem.
Lindley Kirkpatrick, the body’s deputy director, said: “It is imperative the council gathers feedback from cyclists about the tracks and identifies where modifications are required to improve cyclist safety. Such modifications may take the form of better signs, clearer road markings or changes to the road layout.”
That view is shared by Spokes, which has urged the council to pedal quicker and bring forward a planned cycle safety awareness blitz.
Spokesman Ian Maxwell said: “Some readjustment for road layout should be possible but there is also a need for increased awareness. Perhaps the council should consider bringing their public safety campaigns on this matter forward and also look into erecting signs.”
A council spokesman refused to rule out the possibility of using rubber plugs to stop wheels from getting caught in the problem groove. Such methods of preventing accidents are already used in the Netherlands.
Councillor Lesley Hinds, transport convener, said: “We’ve been monitoring this closely and the designated cycle route is not being used because of issues with overspill at the taxi rank. We’re looking at ways to improve the situation as it’s important that cyclists have access to a safe line through the area. In the meantime, we’d encourage cyclists to use the cycle lane if possible and, if it’s blocked, proceed at a slower pace.”