Edinburgh trams caused cyclists to fall

28 June 2019, 15:30 | Updated: 28 June 2019, 17:04

Edinburgh tram Leith Newhaven

Two cyclists are in line for damages after a "landmark" court ruling following accidents while they crossed tram lines in Edinburgh.

Lady Wolffe ruled the road layout and the tram tracks had presented a "relevant hazard" to the cyclists, Elizabeth Fairley and Iain Lowdean.

They took action against the City of Edinburgh Council and tram operators after separate accidents at different points on the tracks.

At the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Lady Wolffe dismissed any suggestion negligence on the part of either cyclist had contributed to the accidents.

Miss Fairley, a nurse at the city's Royal Hospital for Sick Children, was returning home after work when a wheel slipped as she was crossing the tram lines near Haymarket station.

She told the court her back wheel was "pulled back into the tram track" and she was then "thrown or catapulted to the right, falling heavily on to the right-hand carriageway" - with a car stopping just 12 inches short of hitting her head.

She suffered injuries to her face and knee.

Mr Lowdean, a professional golfer who moved to Edinburgh in 2011, was cycling on Princes Street when he believes his bike wheel became lodged in the groove of the tram track, resulting in his accident.

Their cases are the first brought by cyclists, with lawyers describing the result as a "landmark legal decision".

Miss Fairley said afterwards: "I feel hugely relieved by this. 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 get to work and make sure the lines are now made safe so we can avoid any more accidents and injury."

Lady Wolffe's ruling stated that "in each location the infrastructure comprising the road layout and the tram tracks posed a relevant hazard to each of the pursuers".

It added: "The particular risk which presented itself to the road users in both locations was that of having to cross the tram tracks at too shallow an angle."

While the judge said defence lawyers had argued the cyclists "failed to take care" for their own safety, Lady Wolffe stated: "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."

She granted a decree in favour of both Miss Fairley and Mr Lowdean in their respective cases.

Stewart White, a senior lawyer with Thompsons Solicitors who worked on both cases, said: "This is a landmark legal decision which completely vindicates the years of concern expressed by cyclists over the appalling dangers posed by the tram lines.

"In light of this judgment it is now absolutely imperative that Edinburgh city moves to make their tram lines safe for cyclists and all other road users.

"The city must also engage with myself and Thompsons to settle the many other cases of people who have suffered terrible and in some cases life-changing injuries. Any further delay by the council would be disgraceful."