Cycle lane warnings ‘were ignored by Edinburgh council’

Zhi Min Soh
Zhi Min Soh

CAMPAIGNERS have accused transport bosses of ignoring a warning that cycle lanes should be included along the Capital’s tram network.

Cycling group Spokes said a consultant highlighted rider safety as a priority two years before construction started.

Edinburgh University medical student Zhi Min Soh, 23, was hit by a minibus and died on Wednesday after being thrown from her bike while crossing tram tracks on Princes Street.

Ian Maxwell of Spokes, said Dutch consultant Hans van der Stok’s report was “largely ignored” by TIE, the now defunct agency that delivered Edinburgh’s trams.

“It was our idea to bring over Stok and after his visit, we had a series of meetings with Edinburgh council and TIE, but the end result is that they didn’t take heed of his suggestions,” Mr Maxwell told The Sunday Times.

“It was very frustrating. The cycle lanes were lost on Princes Street because of the trams.”

Stok concluded that the city’s busiest routes, including Princes Street and Leith Walk, were wide enough to accommodate cycle lanes alongside trams and traffic. But when the first tram tracks were laid in 2009, cycle lanes disappeared from Princes Street.

Spokes helped bring Stok to Edinburgh, in the hope his know-how in road design would make the streets safer for cyclists.

Since 2009 at least 220 cyclists in Edinburgh have reported tram-related accidents, with cases involving bicycle wheels slipping on smooth rails or getting wedged in track grooves.

Tributes to Zhi Min Soh have been led by Dr David Kluth, director of undergraduate medical teaching at Edinburgh University’s medical school.

He described her as “a talented, thoughtful student” and added: “We have all lost a bright star of the future.”

The Star newspaper in Malaysia, meanwhile, reported that Zhi Min Soh’s parents will be flown to Edinburgh by their government this week.

Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said officials from the Malaysian High Commis­sion in London met with representatives from the university and Edinburgh police.

Malaysian officials have visited Soh’s mother Ho Chai Suan and the rest of her family at their home in Bandar Kinrara, Puchong, a town about 12 miles from the capital Kuala Lumpur.

A post-mortem is expected to be completed this week after which Soh’s parents will be able to fly her body home.

Her tragic death has prompted calls for cyclists’ safety to be included in September’s tram inquiry.

It is understood Stok’s recommendations were considered but rejected by designers for reducing pavement size and offering little benefit to cyclists as bus lanes would be needed.

A council spokeswoman said: “The recommendations from the report by Goudappel Coffeng were appraised during the early design process.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com