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Tramlines in city centres present a particular problem for cyclists, especially where the cyclist is travelling in parallel to the tracks. Wheels may be trapped in the gaps between the tramlines and the road causing cyclists to fall.
Tramlines are also a hazard in icy or wet conditions when their surfaces become slippery.
How may accidents on tramlines be prevented?
Where possible cyclists and trams should be kept in separate lanes, but this may not be practical.
Cycle routes designed to cross the tramlines at 90 degrees and signs warning of the presence of tramlines may help to reduce the risk of cyclists getting their bicycle wheels caught in the tracks.
Cyclists must also take care where tramlines exist by ensuring they are in a position to cross the lines safely.
How common are cycling accidents on tramlines?
As more trams are introduced into city centres the incidence of cycling accidents may increase.
Both Manchester and Edinburgh city councils are facing a number of claims from cyclists who have sustained injuries from falls caused by tramlines.
As well as wheels caught between the tramlines and the road surface, slippery tracks have caused cyclists to skid and collide with other vehicles, including buses.
Injuries include broken bones, facial injuries, torn muscles and ligaments, broken teeth and severed fingertips.
To prevent future accidents Edinburgh council is reported to be looking into the development of a new skid-resistant material specifically for tram tracks.
Pursuing a claim for tramline injury
Councils and highway authorities have a duty of care to ensure that tramlines are designed and constructed in a way that does not create a hazard for other road users.
In order to bring a successful claim for a cycling injury sustained by falling on a tramline, the Claimant may need to establish that accident was caused by the tramline’s poor design, construction or inadequate signage and therefore the authority responsible had breached its duty of care.
Gathering evidence from witnesses to the accident will help to support any claim, as will footage captured by increasingly popular helmet cameras.
If there have been numerous accidents in the same location (such as those in Edinburgh and Manchester) this may assist in establishing liability for the accidents.