Cyclists and taxis fight Haymarket trams danger

Taxi driver Keith McColl points out the line of vehicles queueing up outside Haymarket station
Taxi driver Keith McColl points out the line of vehicles queueing up outside Haymarket station
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CABBIES and cyclists are to join forces to wage war on the city council over the danger posed by limited taxi rank facilities at a major intersection.

Queues of up to 15 taxis extending back into the busy Haymarket junction and blocking cycle lanes and tram tracks have become a regular sight since the intersection reopened to traffic this month.

The snaking lines of cabs trying to enter the taxi rank on Haymarket Terrace are forcing bike riders to dangerously weave into traffic and across tram lines.

Cycling groups said having just three spaces for taxis to legally park outside the train station was “utterly ludicrous”.

One of Edinburgh’s major taxi firms, Central Taxis, has agreed to meet with cycling campaigners to thrash out plans to send a join open letter to the city council lobbying for an overhaul.

Central Taxis director Tony Kenmuir said: “We’re united against a common enemy. Bicycles and taxis are always getting in each other’s way on the green lanes and we’re not each other’s greatest fans, but we recognise we’re being forced into a situation where we’re getting into each other’s way worse than ever before.

“We don’t hold each other accountable – it’s the poor road layout.”

Anthony Robson, creator of campaign group Citycycling, described the layout at Haymarket as a “shambles”.

He said: “The knock-on, for cyclists, is that taxis queuing in the lane are now poking out into the main carriageway, just where the tram tracks are edging to the left, which means those cycling have to cross the tracks at an astonishingly shallow angle.”

Cycling pressure group Spokes is among other organisations which view the Haymarket layout as far from “ideal”.

The move comes with the threat of hefty fines hanging over irresponsible taxi drivers caught blocking lanes of traffic.

Police Scotland has alerted the city council to the Haymarket situation. It is understood the numbers of offending cabs are being recorded and forwarded to the council’s taxi inspectorate.

Proposed taxi ranks on Rosebery Crescent and Grosvenor Street are still to open.

Cyclist and Green Party councillor Gavin Corbett said: “I’m heartened to hear that taxis and cyclists are seeking common cause on the problems at Haymarket.

“It would be much better for taxis to take ownership of that problem themselves than for it to be done through enforcement, but we also still need to look again at avoiding the conflict in the first place.

“That can only mean seeking to keep cyclists further away from tram tracks.”

Councillor Lesley Hinds, transport convener, said: “Haymarket Terrace was redesigned following extensive consultation in order to accommodate all road users in the best way possible.

“We are listening to comments following the removal of the tram works and I would urge drivers to park as safely as they can at all times. We will be liaising with the police.”

Two million passengers every year

HAYMARKET is the most congested train station in Scotland, with more than two million passengers using the transport hub every year.

A £25 million redevelopment of the station on track to open in December will almost triple the concourse floor space to cater for a predicted 125 per cent increase in passenger numbers over the next 15 years. The site will also connect to the new eight-mile long tram line, with a stop outside the station on Haymarket Terrace.

Central Taxis director Tony Kenmuir said his drivers witnessed thousands of passengers pouring out of the terminal every day during peak times.