Dozens of people could be in line for payments after judge’s landmark ruling
In a landmark legal ruling, the court of session awarded damages to two people who were thrown off their bikes and injured when their wheels became trapped in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
The judge Lady Wolffe ruled the design and materials used for the tracks were to blame and awarded undisclosed damages.
Throwing out claims by the council’s lawyers that the cyclists were partly to blame, Wolffe said: “I have no hesitation in rejecting the defenders’ cases of contributory negligence. There was no breach of duty on the part of either pursuer; they bore no responsibility in law for the accidents that befell them.”
Edinburgh’s tram tracks are notorious among the city’s cyclists and believed to be far more dangerous than tram lines in other cities, having caused hundreds of injuries.
The council said on Friday that cycle safety was of the “utmost importance”. Changes had been made to the tram lines and safety measures added to a tram extension to Newhaven, including a separated cycle lane down Leith Walk, it said.
Zhi Min Soh, a Malaysian medical student, was killed in 2017 when she fell into the path of a minibus after her wheels were caught in tracks in central Edinburgh. Cycling campaigners staged a peaceful protest at the spot where she died.
Wolffe’s judgment is expected to lead to a surge in similar actions: 39 other cases were put on hold while the two lead cases were tested in court.
In the first of the two cases, Elizabeth Fairley, 58, a critical care nurse with the Royal hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, sued Edinburgh Trams Ltd and the city council for £50,000.
She said she was thrown into the path of passing cars and sustained injuries to her face and knee when her rear wheel was caught in tracks that had been made slippery by drizzle in Haymarket in October 2013.
In the second case, Iain Lowdean, 35, a professional golfer, sued Transport Initiatives Edinburgh, the now dissolved company set up to build the tram routes, and the council for £15,000. He fell after stopping at a junction on Princes Street in October 2012, sustaining injuries to his right hand and knee.
The council would not say whether it would appeal against the ruling but said Wolffe’s judgment was being closely studied. It said it was upgrading cycle routes across the city centre.
“Cycle safety is of utmost importance to the council and, since 2017, we have been working to deliver a phased programme of cycle safety improvements along the tram route,” a spokeswoman said.
“We have completed the initial phases and, as part of the city centre transformation programme, aim to ensure improvements are coordinated with broader changes to the way our city centre works.”
The tram lines’ poor reputation among cyclists were underlined after Prof Chris Oliver, a retired orthopaedic surgeon and cycling campaigner with Spokes Edinburgh, found 191 cyclists had been injured by the tracks between May 2009, when construction of the line was under way, and April 2016.
A study he led of patients attending accident and emergency departments showed 63 had fractures or dislocations, mostly to their arms. In 142 cases, a bicycle wheel was caught in the tracks, while in 32, a wheel slid on them.
He said 80 people reported that traffic pressures had contributed to their incidents. “Most patients report negative effects on confidence and a sizeable minority do not resume cycling,” his analysis found.
In a statement issued by her law firm, Thompsons Solicitors, Fairley said she was hugely relieved by the judgment.
“Edinburgh council said the accident was my fault, but we can now see from this court case that the tram lines are to blame and are very dangerous. The council must make sure the lines are now made safe so we can avoid any more accidents and injury,” she said.
Edinburgh cyclists win damages over injuries caused by tram tracks | The Guardian
Dozens of people could be in line for payments after judge’s landmark ruling Severin CarrellLast modified on Fri 28 Jun 2019 21.15 BST Dozens of cyclists in Edinburgh could be in line for damages after a judge ruled the city’s tram tracks were to blame for two incidents. In a landmark legal ruling, the court… [Read More]