Cyclists sue over Edinburgh tram track falls

Image caption,
Cyclists' wheels can become stuck in the tram grooves

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, 56, said she dislocated her jaw and injured a knee after her bike wheel slipped on the tram line and became caught.

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

A similar case is being brought by Ian Lowdean.

He is raising a £15,000 claim after he was injured when he fell on Princes Street on 22 October, 2012.

In her case, Ms Fairley maintains that around the time of her accident there were "numerous incidents" of cyclists slipping or falling after coming into contact with tracks on a specific section of the line as a result of crossing at an acute angle.

Lawyers acting for her claim that the number of accidents in Edinburgh to cyclists is "significantly greater" than in other cities where trams or light rail systems were introduced. Mr Lowdean is making the same claim.

Image caption,
Cyclists have been injured crossing the tram lines

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.

Ms Fairley, 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.

She claims she suffered a dislocated jaw, black eye, cuts to her chin and an injury to her right knee.

'Clearly visible'

Ms Fairley, from 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 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."

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.

In May a cyclist died after her wheel became stuck in tram tracks and she fell into the path of a minibus in Princes Street.

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