Nurse tells of tram line bike fall as cyclists’ launch actions

A nurse told a court today that she was thrown from her bike while she negotiated tram tracks in Edinburgh as lead legal actions in cases brought by cyclists began.

Tuesday, 14th May 2019, 8:47 pm
A cyclist heading East to West on Princes Street, approaching the Lothian Rd junction and the floral tribute. Pic: Neil Hanna Photography

Elizabeth Fairley said she had set out to cycle to her home in the Corstorphine area of the city from her work at the Sick Children’s Hospital in Edinburgh when the accident occurred on 16 October in 2013.

The advanced nurse practitioner said she travelled down Morrison Street to Haymarket before she was injured.

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Miss Fairley, 58, said: “I crossed there to get across both tram tracks, but I had to straighten up because there were cars.”

She said she knew her front wheel got over and her intention was to get both over before straightening up and continuing her journey westwards.

She said: “That was the aim to get right over because I know tram tracks pull bikes right into them.”

“I was looking at the front wheel and trying to get that over and trying to avoid the cars passing. Something pulled me into the tram track and threw me over in the path of the cars that were overtaking me,” she told the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

“I have to think it was the back wheel slipping back into the tram tracks. The rear wheel, I think, is the one that got caught in the tram tracks.

“It all happened in a split second. The bike got thrown over. I got thrown over to the right hand side and fell on the road,” she said.

The nurse, who was wearing a cycling helmet, said: “I knew I was injured, everything felt sore.” She said she suffered injuries to a knee and her chin and a black eye appeared the following day.

The injured cyclist raised an action against Edinburgh Trams and the city’s local authority, who are contesting liability in the case.

She originally sued for £50,000, but the court heard that the amount of damages to be paid if her claim succeeds has been agreed. A similar agreement has been reached in a second case in which another cyclist, Iain Lowdean, is suing Transport Initiatives Edinburgh and the council.

Mr Lowdean, 35, from Edinburgh, originally sued for £15,000, after he fell when his bike slipped on the tram tracks in Princes Street in October 2012. He suffered injuries to his hands and right knee. Other claims brought by cyclists have been put on hold while the lead cases proceed.

A report produced in the 1990s highlighted the hazard of cycle wheels being trapped or skidding on the flange groove of a tram track and noted the need for cyclists to cross them at as perpendicular an angle as possible.

The council maintains that it fulfilled all duties of reasonable care.

The hearing continues.