Cycling tragedy must prompt action

City Centre Green councillor Claire Miller reflects on this week’s tragic death of a cyclist in Edinburgh.

The death of a young woman on her bike at the junction of Princes Street and Lothian Road this week has brought shock and disbelief.

For the family and friends of the young woman who died, no words can convey the grief that they must now be feeling.

But there is also anger from the cycling community in the city who have been dreading this day for some time. And it is not just cyclists. The cycling surgeon, Chris Oliver has documented 252 injuries related to trams over the last few years, of which almost 200 were cyclists but 53 of which were pedestrians tripping on tram lines.

So there is clearly a wider public interest in this tragedy which means that a Fatal Accident Inquiry must be established. Meantime, the council needs to document, as a matter of urgency, each and every incident and draw out common themes which can be used for an action progamme to be delivered without delay.

We have already heard some ideas which could prevent anything like this happening again. Advance stop lines with cyclist phase lights to allow cyclists to navigate the tram areas more safely. Driver awareness campaigns, especially for taxis and buses in that crucial York Place to Haymarket corridor, about how to drive in areas where there are bikes and trams. Reviewing track adaptations like rubber sleeves which reduce wheel-trapping or creating clearer paths across tram lines. Building dedicated space for bikes.

The current tram inquiry led by Lord Hardie would do well to take these matters into account.

But action needs to start now.

A growing, congested city like Edinburgh needs to invest in zero-pollution public transport like the tram but equally in expanding cycling and walking. They should co-exist, not compete. And without such tragedies ever again.