Cyclist tram injuries put a ‘burden’ on health services

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CYCLISTS being injured by Edinburgh’s tram system is placing a “significant burden” on frontline health services, according to a new report.

The research, co-authored by Professor Chris Oliver, known as the cycling surgeon, has revealed that 191 cyclists were treated after being injured by trams and tram tracks between May 2009 and April 2016.

A total of 251 people were injuired in relation to Edinburgh's tram system in a seven-year period

A total of 251 people were injuired in relation to Edinburgh's tram system in a seven-year period

There were a total of 251 people injured in relation to the Edinburgh tram system during the period.

The study into Tram System Related Cycling Injuries (TSRCI) in the Capital has been released following the death of a Malaysian medical student, Zhi Min Soh. The 23-year-old was struck by a minibus last year after she fell into the vehicle’s path when her bike wheels become stuck in a tram track at the junction between Princes Street and Lothian Road.

Last year, Prof Oliver called on the council to “segregate the dangerous hotspots” and that action is needed “urgently”.

The study revealed that 63 cyclists suffered one or more fractures or dislocations.

In 141 of the cases, injuries were caused by cycle wheels being caught in tram tracks - while 32 cyclists were injured by bikes skidding on the tram tracks.

The report also highlighted that most patients reported negative effects on confidence following an injuries - as well as a “sizeable minority” who have not yet cycled again since being hurt.

The report states: “TSRCI place significant burdens on A&E and trauma and orthopaedic services.

“These must be considered when designing services in towns serviced by trams and also accounted for when new tram systems are planned and constructed.”

It adds: “Collisions are rare and the vast majority of incidents are due to bicycle wheels getting caught in the tram tracks, with sliding of the wheels over the tracks being the second commonest mechanism of injury.

“More than half of respondents reported that traffic pressures contributed to their accident and the vast majority of respondents reported that the incident affected their confidence cycling.”

The study found that 35 people suffered minor head injuries, while a total of 16 people sustained a radial head fracture.

The City of Edinburgh Council said it is putting measures in place to improve safety for cyclists and other road users.

A council spokesperson said: “Pedestrian and cyclist safety are of utmost importance to the Council.

“Like all UK and European cities with trams, we welcome all research that helps us improve cycle safety around tram tracks.

“We’re currently implementing four phases of measures to help raise awareness of how cyclists and drivers can keep each other safe around tram tracks, including road markings to guide cyclists along the safest routes and a communications campaign encouraging safe driving.

“As always, we urge all road users to adhere to the rules of the road when in the vicinity of tram tracks – especially rule 306 in the Highway Code, which advises cyclists to avoid crossing tram rails at a shallow angle.”