Trams – Some Cycle Progress

Posted by chdot on October 18, 2007

Evening News Tram date cover
© Evening News


Concern about how the planned re-introduction of trams to Edinburgh will affect cyclists continues. Initially the most contentious issue was over the delightful Roseburn Corridor (former railway line from Haymarket to Ferry Road). IF the tram ‘system’ is extended to the Waterfront a “high quality” parallel walk/cycle route is now “guaranteed”.

SPOKES, the Lothian Cycle Campaign, is contining to press Council owned companies TIE (which is managing the project) and Transport Edinburgh Limited (which will run the trams – as well as Lothian Buses) to improve their plans. Spokes met representatives of both companies this week and had “a positive and constructive meeting”.

Two main issues remain unresolved. 1) carrying bikes on the trams 2) the actually amount of space left on the road for cyclists – notably in Leith Walk and Princes Street. In spite of years of planning, Scottish Parliamentary processes etc., detailed plans for the route are still not available. There are tentative plans for Leith Walk which show that the trams will be in the middle and the buses will use the same lane – though presumably the bus stops will still be on the inside lane!?

TIE seems pleased with the fact that it has ‘found space’ to ‘reserve’ a 1 metre strip – next to the parked cars. Which as any cyclist knows is not a smart idea. Spokes has persuaded TIE to seek a second opinion from a Dutch traffic expert before making final decisions. As Ian Maxwell of Spokes says: “We want to draw on the extensive experience of integrating cycles and trams within historic city centres in the Netherlands. We are therefore inviting a specialist to visit Edinburgh in the next few weeks to help find a solution which makes best use of road space and which will be safe and attractive for cyclists and other road users.”

The Tram Design Manual (p. 35) outlines the Council’s intentions: “Ensure a good relationship of the tram system with other modes of transport, including pedestrians, cyclists, buses, taxis and private vehicles.” In the Appendix (p. 104) It states: “Trams should be able to carry bicycles, particularly during off-peak operation.”

Spokes will be pressing the City Council later this month to ask TIE/TEL to carry out trials of bikes on trams from the opening day (February 25, 2011 according to today’s Evening News) – for example, at weekends. A trial run took place on the Sheffield Supertram last month, and Nottingham and Manchester Councils are considering trials on new lines.

Spokes thinks that Edinburgh should be leading the way in the UK. They point out that First Scotrail recently increased the bicycle carrying capacity (ScotRail bike info) on their North Berwick train service (timetable), and that many tram systems in Europe and America already allow cyclists to take bicycles on off-peak services.

TIE recognises that many tram passengers will use bikes to reach the tram stops outside the city centre, and it will provide plenty of cycle parking spaces at tram stops. Although it’s strange that this is not mentioned in TIE’s business case as people cycling and using the tram could be a significant proportion of the tram line’s business.

Previous story – “Cyclists fear trams will squeeze them off roads”

Meanwhile in San Francisco – “Between our place and the Golden Gate, there are roughly sixteen schools and each of them has hundreds of cars tying up traffic…I decided to hop on a bus partway there, and a bus came along in 20 minutes….thank goodness. Then when the bus got stuck in traffic, I hopt off and pedaled away.”

4 Responses to “Trams – Some Cycle Progress”

  1. Bondwoman said

    Tramworks at present are making Leith Walk exceptionally hazardous, in both directions. However, if you are cycling up from the Bonnington Road vicinity, like me, and you are old and fat and not terribly fit, like me, then there is no realistic alternative. Or is there?

  2. Becky said

    I made the point ages ago to CEC about the likelihood of cyclists using the tram as part of a multi-mode commute. Maybe someone took note at the time, I don’t know. Anyway, I thought I ought to repost my post from the Spokes forum in April this year, after I’d read the entire Edinburgh Tram Design Manual:

    There are some generally good aspirations and “shall be”s relating to cyclists.

    Paragraph 5.109 refers to ECC’s Cycle Friendly Design Guide in the context of cycle and tram intersection, but in the wider context of the use of the tram system by pedestrians and cyclists, rather than interaction.

    Paragraph 5.110 then lists requirements which must be satisfied, including:

    * “Cycle/pedestrian routes are to be provided alongside the tram track on those sections where the tram route follows a corridor currently occupied by a cycle/pedestrian path only.”

    * “For on-street sections, cycle lanes should be implemented where possible, to encourage segregation from the tram tracks.”

    * “Cycle routes should be fluent throughout the tram route, avoiding interaction with both trams and other vehicles, such as parked cars or unloading areas, and be designed so as to minimise the crossing of the tracks.”

    But note the final requirement:

    * “Where there is restricted space and cycle routes cannot be implemented safely, they should merge with pedestrian routes rather than tram or vehicular paths.”

    If a competent cyclist is riding, then he or she will usually behave like a vehicle, but less competent riders might benefit from this. I’m concerned particularly about Leith Walk though because the majority of it is two lanes each way, with parking lay-bys every so often. And going uphill is a long long drag, where matching vehicle speeds is difficult at the best of times.

    Appendix 8 makes numerous references to alterations to structures, and the extracts from the Environmental Statement suggest that a dualled tram track will be about 8m in width, plus or minus. That’s a good chunk of Leith Walk, where the central divide is just shy of a full lane in width.

  3. Tommy Lee said

    I dont usually comment on things like this but cant help myself. This doesnt come as a shock to anyone who has any experience of seeing Edinburgh Council (no matter which side of the political divide) in action.
    TIE were very sure to point out that Cycle Routes would be an integral part of the Tram network during consultation and planning. Of course they would – cause Spokes and their like then support the Trams. Now that TIE have agreement for the Trams to proceed, shock, horror what do we find.
    I have been commuting on my bicycle in the centre of Edinburgh for 10 years or more and Trams are not what we need. Trams are not the way forward, thats why Edinburgh got rid of them in the first place. Investment in a fleet of electric, cleaner buses for a new bus system which I may add is also flexible (unlike Trams).
    e.g. the recent fire in Princes Street – Princes Street closed both ways, Where do the buses go ? they divert along George Street etc. Now imagine the situation with Trams 🙂
    Also, dont be fooled by the recent claim that the Tram Network (sorry its really one Tram line) is under budget. Once the real work begins we will see that change dramatically, and who pays for the overspend ? Edinburgh Council Tax payers. Fantastic !

    Anyone remember the nice picture representation in the Evening News sometime back of Trams running along the Roseburn Corridor with pedestrains and bikes in harmony alongside ? Well replace this with an 8 foot barbed wire fence seperating pedestrian from Tram and you get the reality of how things will turn out.

    Not sure anyone will read this – but I just needed to say it.

  4. […] and Public Transport easier. However in spite of solid efforts by cycle campaigners (especially pressure from Spokes) tie is still resisting the idea of allowing bikes ON […]

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