Edinburgh Cyclists to get head start at traffic lights

Under new council plans announced today, cyclists will get a head start at traffic light junctions along the tram route.

These new traffic lights that would go green for riders before other traffic would be installed at 14 different sites along the tram route. These same lights are already in use at the Leith Walk/ McDonald Road junction.Plans follow the red cycle lanes for riders to cross tramlines more safely installed last autumn.

The tram route running down Princes Street is one of the busiest with cyclists. Credit: Calum McRobert @ Geograph.org

The work was triggered after the death of Malaysian student Zhi Min Soh, whose bike wheels became caught in tram tracks last May at the junction of Shandwick Place and Queensferry Street. These plans are also part of a public consultation which launched on the council website today and will run unitl the 11th of April.If approved the lights will be expected to be implemented towards the end of the year.

Transport convener Lesley Macinnes stated,

“With the first phase of cycle safety improvements already in place – and, according to our feedback, well-received by cyclists – and the second phase just weeks away from being implemented, we’re now looking to the public for feedback on our proposed designs for phase three, which we aim to put in place later this year.”

“Road safety is absolutely paramount and we’ve been working extremely closely with our partners to refine these designs.”

Early release signals for cyclists have been credited with reducing collisions in cities where they’re already used so these are a particularly desirable option.The council have said a fourth and final phase would involve changes to the road layout at the Princes Street/Lothian Road/Shandwick Place/Queensferry Street/Hope Street junction to improve road safety for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers alike.

 

200 Cyclists killed or injured by Edinburgh trams from 2009-2016

Over 200 cyclists have been injured by city trams in Edinburgh since May 2009, with at least one incident resulting in death.

EN4 News spoke to the author of the report, Edinburgh University’s Professor Chris Oliver. He said:

“The Tram System was poorly designed. No consideration of the needs of cyclists. The infrastructure should segregate cyclists away from trams.”

As a former surgeon, Professor Oliver has seen first-hand what the damage these trams can do. The study highlights that ‘the risks [of cyclists] are further increased by other factors such as on-street parked cars, the absence of dedicated cycling infrastructure and heavy traffic’.

Edinburgh Trams | Image Credit: STV

It also found that ‘almost two-thirds of respondents in this study reported that the incident occurred while commuting.’ This primarily occurs when cyclists feel pressured by motorists to go onto the tramlines.

So what can be done to ensure their safety?

Oliver believes segregated infrastructure is key in bringing about change and security to cyclists. He also told EN4 News that he agrees with Spokes’ tramline safety measures, which is a four phase plan to make tramlines safer for cyclists.

The study of ‘Tram System Related Cycling Injuries’ was conducted in light of the death of 23 years old Malaysian medical student, Zhi Min Soh.

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