Leaders: ‘This is a huge challenge for the council’

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CAN cycling close to tram tracks really be that dangerous? Evidence from cyclists in the Capital and around the world proves that it can be.

In Melbourne, Australia, a cyclist commuting to work was hit and killed by a tour bus after her bicycle tyres got caught in tram tracks. In English cities with trams such as Sheffield, a number of cyclists have reported serious injuries as a result of falling off their bikes.

Today, experienced Edinburgh cyclist Sara Reed told the News how she moved out into the outside lane to overtake a stationery bus on Princes Street. Then with buses and taxis behind her, she crossed back to the inside lane. To do this, you have to cross tram tracks at around 45 degrees. Her wheel was momentarily caught and she tumbled from her bike, breaking her collarbone.

Cyclists have been told they should try and cross tram tracks at 90 degrees to avoid this happening. But how is this possible when you are switching lanes as Ms Reed did? The danger is greater for those travelling on road bikes or with narrower hybrid tyres, popular with commuters.

The cycling community want segregated cycle lanes that are not shared with the trams. This is a huge challenge for the city council and one that would cost several million pounds to implement.

However, the council could also face a barrage of injury claims from those who fall. One firm is already aware of 74 such injuries since the tram lines were installed. This will surely climb when the trams are fully operational from 2014.

Ms Reed’s motivation may be solely to improve conditions for cyclists, but others will, perhaps justifiably, press the council to compensate them.

Going by the book

Edinburgh is not short of literary talent and Costa- nominated author Diana Hendry is no stranger to awards, having previously scooped the former Whitbread Prize 21 years ago.

She’s back on the shortlist now for The Seeing, which tells the story of three children in post-war Britain. With the blaze of publicity surrounding the new JK Rowling and Ian Rankin releases, it has been another great year for the profile of Edinburgh’s authors.

Congratulations to Diana and let’s hope we’re celebrating a win – and another chapter in the city’s literary success story – in January.