Monday, 4 November 2013

Cycling in a city with trams

There's some good news on the cycling front. Edinburgh City Council might be investing a record amount in cycling in its transport budget next year; and London and Bristol are going Dutch/Danish, it seems. However, in Edinburgh the latest transport news is the slow unveiling of what's been built of our difficult tram project. The line is complete and roads are reopened.

Unfortunately, at one key junction, Haymarket, this is happening:

The road has been "redesigned" with very little thought for cyclists coming out of town. They're supposed to go down the taxi rank to the right there, and then wait an age at the lights, and then cross the tracks at a less acute angle. Taxis often block the entrance to the rank (they were doing so again this evening) and so cyclists are forced to use this lethal bit of road.

As soon as I cycled through the reopened junction I realised another danger, that got me a close shave this evening. I come out of Dalry Road, to the right of that video, and turn right to head down Shandwick place - I have to cross the tram tracks. To do so, I have to cross the entrance to Grosvenor Street - the "straight on" of the junction. Now with the tram tracks, I have to swing out left to cross at a less acute angle, and then swing back right across the entrance to Grosvenor Street. I make sure I'm in the Advanced Stop Area and signal right to make sure any car going down Grosvenor Street has half an idea of the daft manoeuvre I'm about to be forced to do. Until tonight, every car has also been going along West Maitland Street so I've been vaguely safe. Tonight two cars were going down Grosvenor Street and were very closely to killing me. I knew this was an accident waiting to happen. 

To make it safe, a simple solution would be to paint an mandatory cycle lane over the tram tracks and then loop it behind a small traffic island with a "Give Way" sign at the entrance of Grosvenor Street and then continue the path on a raised surface across to West Maitland Street and Shandwick Place. What we'll probably get is a few more pointless cycle/tram signs. 

But what really depresses me is the utter lack of strategic thought in the tram road designs. In remodelling the roads for the trams they had the opportunity to completely remodel the roads to make them safe for active travel. At Haymarket we have what it was before - basically a very large roundabout distributing traffic in and out of the city centre - with some tram tracks across it. The presumption is you'll be on four wheels or a tram. If you're not then you might as well be dead. The lost opportunity just leaves me despairing.

However, one good thing is, the farce of road design at Haymarket did actually make the front page of the local newspaper calling for the Council to do something about it. So there is some hope. In the meantime, as far as I'm concerned, if the Council leave the junction open then they're failing in their duty of care under health and safety legislation. The junction needs to be closed and temporarily remodelled to remove these dangers and more permanent solutions put in. Otherwise someone will die.

1 comment:

  1. See more about this and background to why it has happened here...