Tram lines can be hazardous for cyclists, particularly in city centres where cycle traffic crosses them. In the event of a spill is it possible to pursue legal action in the event of an injury or damage to property?
Tramlines, like drain covers, may trap cycle wheels particularly if they are parallel or at an oblique angle to the direction of travel. Tramlines are slippery particularly in wet or icy weather.
Ideally tramlines should be kept separate from cycle traffic but this is clearly not always possible. The risks to cyclists can be reduced with warning signs and if the tramlines are flush with the road surface. Cycle routes should be designed to cross tram lines at a 90 degree angle.
Cycling Injuries Caused by Tramlines
Such incidents can potentially cause serious injury to a cyclist, and we unfortunately are seeing cases like these all too frequently.
In September 2015 a couple were injured on the tracks leading to Cemetery Road Metrolink stop in Droylsden. Legal action is being pursued against Transport for Greater Manchester and M-PACT Thales Consortium.
Many cycling injury claims are pending against Edinburgh City Council. The Edinburgh tram system is approximately 14km long. There has been much criticism of design of the tramlines in the city, which have resulted in many cyclists suffering injuries.
Edinburgh City Council is attempting to resolve the issue with a special coating designed to make the tracks less slippery.
Is it Possible to Pursue a Claim if I Fall From my Bike on Tramlines?
It is possible to establish breach of duty against a council on the basis that cycle routes were poorly designed and/or a tramline was constructed in a way which caused a risk to road users. Liability in my view could be established on the basis that the design of the tramline, or a road or cycle path which crosses it, had created a hazard to road users.
Tips For Cyclists Crossing Tramlines
Cyclists need to exercise extreme caution when crossing tram lines. For when they are unavoidable, bear these three easy steps in mind when approaching:
- It is advisable to cross tramlines at a 90-degree angle as, at an acute angle, the bike wheel can drop into the groove causing a spill.
- Take the primary riding position to deter motorists overtaking so that the tracks can be crossed safely.
- If the tracks are oblique to the direction of travel then move further out to enable them to be crossed a 90 degree angle.
For regular cyclists who do not already have one, a helmet camera is a highly recommended piece of kit in providing evidence in the event of an injury, and also to provide footage where there are no available witnesses.
Helmet cameras are being used more and more by people who cycle to work each day. Footage of accidents captured by these cameras is increasingly being used as evidence in both the criminal and civil courts. For more information on this, please see: Can Helmet Camera Footage be used as Evidence in Court?
Richard Gaffney is Slater and Gordon’s principal lawyer for Cycling UK (previously CTC), the national cycling charity.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers can provide you with free legal advice on cycling accident claims in an online guide that you can download and print.
Call us for a free consultation on 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help you.