April 2024

Tram issues and development


1. Important – Reporting tramline crashes
2. Developments & documents relating to Edinburgh tram
3. Other useful tram documents [not Edinburgh]

1. Reporting tramline crashes

All crashes or other incidents relating to tramlines should be reported – this will help future potential victims by identifying causes and possible remedial measures.  It may also help you if you later decide to make a claim for injury or damage.

See our reporting page which covers..

  • Making an official report to the Council
  • Spokes survey/records of crashes, to help identify causes and press for improvements
  • Police – when/why report a tramline crash?
  • Claiming for injury or damages [also see para 2301 in (2) below for some successes]

Please check out our reporting page even if your tramline crash was in the past and even if you have already made a report to the Council, police or elsewhere.

2. Developments & documents relating to Edinburgh tram

Causes of tramline crashes and how to reduce your chances of becoming a victim – Spokes info sheet

2301 Crash compensation casesCycleLaw report (2023) of 4 resolved cases CycleLaw report (2021) of 3 resolved cases

2210 Elgin House development – plans improve Haymarket Yards blackspot (partly)  Planning App 22/04595/FUL / spokes submission

2210 Phase 3 blackspot measures [see 1804, 1902, 2204 below] – work underway  Council tweet with pics

2209 FOI data on Edinburgh tramline crashes – FOI request by Tim Kerby, revealing over 400 reported crashes and £1.2m paid out so far.  Tim Kerby Request / FOI crashes data file / Resulting press articles collated by Chris Oliver, including road.cc, Edinburgh Live, BBC Scotland, Evening News

2206 Zhi Min Soh 2017 tramline crash deathSpokes report of 5-year memorial event, including background, measures taken by Council, and what is still needed

2205 Zhi Min Soh 2017 tramline crash deathopinion piece by independent transport specialist Dave Holladay, on the need to learn lessons from fatal crashes, and act on them

2204 Tramline Safety Measures, Phase 3 [see 1804+1902 below] – Grosvenor Street TRO stakeholder consultation, to prohibit motor vehicle entry from Haymarket Junction.  TRO/22/01  Spokes response – short email of support, no further comments

1907 Tramline construction/maintenance flaws  Article by engineer Dave Holladay NB this is not about the tramline layout, but about construction details.  Also includes DH’s advice on crossing tramlines.

1906 Tramline crash court case vindicates victims [see also 1505 below]. In the two test cases brought by Thompsons Solicitors, Lady Wolffe at the Court of Session ruled that the cyclists were not at fault, but the road layout and tramtracks design were to blame, creating a “hazard” which posed a “significant risk of accident” and were aggravated by the traffic conditions.  Damages were awarded.  Full rulingGuardian article.  Report in Scottish Legal News.  Subsequently the Council decided not to appeal – we think this means that they will tend to pay damages in future crashes to avoid them going to court (except if/when a cyclist is clearly at fault).

1902 Tramline Safety Measures, phase 3 – update  Feb 1st mtg with officers  The Haymarket Stn & Yards schemes now to be built as part of CCWEL.  However Grosvenor St, Charlotte St, N St Andrew St to remain as a separate (single) contract.   1909 – Grosvenor St design appears to have been changed under CCWEL (see final map) – splitter island instead of raised table.

1804 Tramline Safety Measures, phase 3  Consultation  Spokes response   Consultation report [1.8MB]

1802 Spokes Bulletin 130 – articles about tramline injuries & Council safety measures programme.  Also about the tramline extension [which now has its own page]

1801 Tram system related cycling injuries  Research paper by Prof Chris Oliver and others based on 191 tramline-related cyclist injuries between 2009 and 2016

1710 Tramline Safety Measures, 4-phase Council programmeSpokes article

1706 Edinburgh Cyclists’ Tram InjuriesPresentation by Prof Chris Oliver [pdf] who has studied all tram-related casualties presenting at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary or Western General Hospital.  [See also 1801 above]

1706 Tramlines & bikes in Edinburgh – past and future – major Spokes article, following the 31.5.17 death of Edinburgh University student Zhi Min Soh at the West End junction.  TweetPhotos from Zhi Min Soh memorial event.

1705 Tramline fillers – social media and the press are continually suggesting plastic or other “tramline fillers.”   The evidence so far is that this is not a solution to Edinburgh’s bike/tramline crash problems.  See our Spokes Note.

1606 Bikes on Trams – now to be allowed during Festival, subject to guard discretion – item 3 in AT Forum Minutes of 21.6.16.

1507 Bikes on Trams – now permanent on Edinburgh trams – a UK first

1505 Lawyers call for action on tramlines – Thompson lawyers have 100 cases.  BBC video report with lawyer & victims interviews.

1505 Bikes on Trams – trial begins – a UK first

1502 Injured cyclists to sue Council60 potential cases so farNote – this report includes another video of a Haymarket crash happening.  The fact that there are 2 (or 3?) such videos is an indication of how frequent the crashes are at Haymarket.

1404 Haymarket long-term solution proposed by Spokes.  Note that this solution would only make sense if incorporated into a segregated east-west route along the A8, as Edinburgh is considering as one of several options (Consultation expected Spring/Summer 2015).

1311 Tramline blackspotsvideo by Evening News interviewing Spokes member Peter Hawkins

1310 Haymarket tramlines disaster

1105 Interim Road Safety Audit for Princes Street. The council/TIE has obtained an independent road safety audit, which Spokes has seen, and which vindicates many of the points Spokes has made over tramline dangers [e.g. see Spokes Bulletin 110].   Princes St is to close for 10 months as from 3 July to rebuild the tramline foundations, and we are told that the safety audit recommendations will be addressed in that work.   A ‘final’ safety audit will then be commissioned and made publicly available.  Also, prior to the road closure, some immediately critical faults (such as the grooves beside the tramlines) have been rectified.

1009 12-month cycleroute closure near Russell Road [pdf 416k] [CLOSURE CANCELLED/POSTPONED DUE TO TRAM UNCERTAINTIES]  The cycleroute beside Balbirnie Place, including the connection to Russell Road, will be closed for approx 12 months from 20.09.10, to allow construction of a tram bridge over Russell Road.  See also our September 2 news item.

1009 Council Committee Report 21.9.10 [pdf 2.3MB]  Approving the TROs.

1002 Spokes Tramlines Advice Note [pdf 539k]  Aims to advise you how to cope with cycling near tramlines, and provide some background.   Please send us suggestions to improve the advice.  We’ve also come across a video of how to cross tramlines – very useful, though not entirely applicable to the big problem of turning off Princes St when there’s traffic and/or you are starting from a lane which contains tramlines.

0912 Cyclist Survey re Princes Street tramlines [pdf 176k] Results of Spokes survey of cyclists visiting the TIE/BikeStation tramline training session.  We asked about problems resulting from tramlines, and about the future of Princes Street.  Note there are only 21 responses, so the results are mainly useful to highlight issues rather than to draw too definitive conclusions on specific points.  It is however clear that there is considerable worry about the present situation; and extremely high demand for a European-style 2-way cycleroute on one side of the tracks once the trams arrive, with motor traffic removed from both sides, or perhaps just that side, of Princes Street.

0912  Video of TIE/Bike Station Tramline Training event On Dec 13 a training event was held in a coned-off area of Princes Street.  A video was produced http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7supOhm9PXY.   It does give you some advice but is as much a record of the event as a training video.  Some pictures, indeed, appear to show what not to do – for example, the cyclist with fat tyres who successfully crosses the tramlines at a fairly narrow angle – that can be dodgy in wet weather and is totally unsafe with narrower tyres.

1310 update  For a while the council advertised the above as a training video but, perhaps wisely, it appears to have disappeared from their website.

0911  Scotsman editorialinteresting article [22.11.09] on the future of Princes Street for cycling, walking and buses, now that trams are coming.

0909  Draft Traffic Regulation Orders governing allowed turnings, parking restrictions, etc in association with tram.  There are 26 TRO drawings available at www.tramsforedinburgh.com – storysofar – design – Oct 2009.  [Note – this is  a 38.8MB downloadable interactive file].  As an example, here is the Lothian Road – Shandwick Place TRO drawing, on which you can see the left-turn ban at the foot of Lothian Road, and the extremely dangerous connection from Princes St to Shandwick Place due to the only ahead-lane having tramlines in it!!   Exhibitions and a chance to formally comment/object are expected in Feb/March 201o – the above website includes an Explanatory Note on the TRO procedures.

0907  TPi Tram-Cycle Integration Study [pdf 12151k] commissioned by TIE/CEC in view of continuing concerns from Spokes and others that cyclist integration, access and safety, particularly onroad, was needing more attention.  [Interesting that by far the worst danger spot of all in actuality, namely Morrison Street to Haymarket Terrace, was not identified in the study!] Appendices…

0903 TIE Cycling and Trams Brochure [4771k]  produced to give advance info and news of how cyclist/tram integration was being treated.   Circulated to all Spokes members in early 2009.  Includes a useful picture showing the angles at which to (not) cross tramlines.

0812 Report by Dutch consultant Hans van der Stok [pdf 7035k] brought over by Spokes and by TIE to advise on bike/tram integration onroad.   Despite Spokes’s best efforts over a very long period, most of his recommendations were rejected by TIE and the Council – for 2 main reasons.  First, to preserve as much car-parking space* as possible on Leith Walk.  Second, to reserve road width for a central island – some technical reasons were given for this (e.g. traffic light visibility) but as it is extremely rare in other tram systems we suspect that it was done for ‘streetscape’/historical reasons i.e. because it looks more symmetrical and to match the previous tram layout.

* NB In 2018, after a massive public revolt, the Council backed down on their original Leith Walk tramline plans, by reducing car lanes and parking, and adding segregated bike lanes on both sides of the street.  See paras 1809 and 1803 on our Leith Tramline Extension page.

0712 Detailed 2007/2008 plans for Edinburgh tram (never built, but included cycle/wheel/walk alongside tram where using North Edinburgh Network)

0601 Edinburgh Council Tram Design Manual 229-page report from year 2005 tram plans (updated 2006). Note one of the bullet points on page 90, “Cycle/pedestrian routes are to be provided alongside the tram track on those sections where the tram route follows a corridor currently occupied by a cycle/pedestrian path only.”

3. Other useful tram documents [mainly not Edinburgh]

2301 Tram track injury study in Dublin – It confirms our point that tramline crashes often occur when cycling in the same direction as the tramline; as well of course as when intentionally crossing a tramline

2103 Tram track injury study in Ghent – Useful conclusions: (1) wet weather more dangerous (2) separated cycle infra helps a lot (3) Councils should identify & tackle injury hotspots  (4) peak in injuries when students arrive in autumn, but awareness can help

1208 Cyclist consideration in tramline design – USA v Netherlands blog post from The Urban Country.

1207 Commentary on tramline installation details (grooves,  heights, etc) by transport specialist Dave Holladay, including Edinburgh/Nottingham comparison.  [Link to follow]

1204 Legal case against Seattle transport authority [USA] re. tramline dangers.   Articles by BikePortland.org  1.6.10 Original article   12.4.12 Case initially refused

1005 Manchester – GMCC Bikes on Trams report [pdf 154k].  Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign have for around a decade been campaigning to achieve bike carriage on Manchester Metro.  Their efforts are remarkable for the incredible evidence base they have built up.  The above report, for example, includes a table covering 99 light rail systems in 19 European countries.   For a while GMCC also published an excellent newsletter, Cycle Carriage News.  There is a 2011 summary of the long GMCC campaign, which includes links to all issues of Cycle Carriage News.

0810 Portland, Oregon – Bicycle Interactions and Streetcars [pdf 1.9MB] – comprehensive document on bike/tram planning and interaction

Back to top of page