Cyclist sues Edinburgh Council £50k for tram fall

A cyclist is taking legal action over a tram fall. Stock image
A cyclist is taking legal action over a tram fall. Stock image

A nurse who was injured on a fall from her bike is set to be one of two lead cases in actions brought by cyclists over Edinburgh’s tram system.

Elizabeth Fairley said she dislocated her jaw and injured a knee after she lost control of her bicycle when a wheel slipped on the tram line and became caught in it.

She is suing Edinburgh Trams and the city council for £50,000 after she fell at Haymarket on October 16 in 2013. She had approached Haymarket station travelling westwards.

She maintains that that around that time there were “numerous incidents” of cyclists slipping or falling after coming into contact with tracks on this section of the line as a result of crossing at an acute angle.

Lawyers acting for her maintain that the number of accidents in Edinburgh to cyclists is “significantly greater” than in other cities where trams or light rail systems were introduced _ a claim mirrored in the other lead case brought Ian Lowdean.

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Mr Lowdean, of Edinburgh, raised a £15,000 claim after he was injured when he fell on Princes Street on October 22 in 2012.

In Ms Fairley’s action it is contended that as a result of the road layout and traffic conditions she had to cycle across the tracks at an angle of about 30 degrees which it is alleged presented “a trap for cyclists”.

It is maintained that after her accident remedial measures were introduced to reduce the risk to cyclists crossing the tracks at an acute angle.

It is said that when cyclists cross tram tracks at an acute angle there is a risk that a wheel will catch or slip on the groove of the track.

Ms Fairley (56) an advanced nurse practitioner at Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children, said that on the day of her accident it was damp and drizzly and it was first time she had taken the route since Haymarket junction had reopened to traffic four days earlier.

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She claims that as a result of the tram operator and council’s fault she suffered a dislocated jaw, black eye, cuts to her chin and an injury to her right knee.

Ms Fairley, of Edinburgh, underwent physiotherapy for her knee injury but was unable to kneel. Before the accident she practised ballet dancing but was left with limitations on the type of positions and moves she can perform.

She is suing for damages for her pain and suffering following the incident and also for the replacement costs for her damaged helmet and clothing she was wearing.

Liability in the action is contested. The council said the presence of the tram lines was or ought to have been obvious to all careful road users.

It is said: “They were clearly visible and did not present a significant risk of an accident to any careful cyclist exercising reasonable care.”

“Careful cyclists requiring to cross tram lines should do so at as large an angle as possible, at slow speed and when taking care. If that cannot be done a cyclist should dismount,” it is said.

Following a brief hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh a judge set an eight day hearing in May 2019 for the two cases.

Lord Boyd of Duncansby also agreed to put a further 39 actions on hold until September that year.

The judge was told that by then it was anticipated a judgement would be available from one or other of the two lead actions.