Back in 1998, the Gehl report recommended increasing pedestrianisation of Princes Street. The City of Edinburgh Council revisited that report last year but it appears to have been shelved again. However, if the Council were to implement the findings of the Gehl report, they could either remove motor traffic from Princes Street or alternatively pedestrianise George Street and cyclists could be re-routed in that direction.
I walk to work every day along Princes Street. My heart is always in my mouth whenever I see a cyclist trying to negotiate the tramlines especially with heavy duty traffic around them. Since the tram works started in 2009 there has already been over 70 accidents reported and probably a whole not more which weren’t reported. What is it going to be like when the trams are also running on Princes Street? Trams are unlike other modes of public transport. They are akin to trains, in that, they are unable to do emergency stops like motor vehicles. From the number of clients who have approached me to make a claim for compensation on their behalf, some of them talk of being pressured by traffic and others describe falling off their bike in front of a bus or taxi. Thankfully, those vehicles manage to stop in time and on some occasions assist with injured persons and others, asked for them to be removed from the roadway to enable them to accord with their timetable!
In my view, when the trams start to run, all of the above spells tragedy. I do not want to be bringing any compensation claims against the council for fatalities that they clearly knew, or ought to have known were foreseeable given the worryingly high number of accidents that have occurred on Princes Street since the tram network was installed and the street opened.
I sincerely hope the council, which has buried its head in the sand up until now, will sit up and take responsibility for all the accidents that have caused by not only creating a hazard, but doing absolutely nothing about it when it knew and continued to be told that cyclists were suffering personal injury as a consequence of the hazard that had been created.
We are now presented with the final phase of works, and I understand that no more elbow grease will be wasted on Princes Street and that what we have now, is what we will get and the next stage in the project will be the running a tram along it. There are still numerous problems with this project and the fact that they are guiding cyclists, not only between the tramlines but down an area where the trams will be running beggars belief in light of their knowledge of these accidents
I implore the City of Edinburgh Council to be pro-active and do something about this serious problem before they are forced to take a reactive approach following a fatality.