CityCyclingEdinburgh Forum » Infrastructure

Brought down by a tram track

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  1. Stickman
    Member

    Add me to the list.

    Fed up with close passes at the Wester Coates roadworks so I thought I'd try the advertised cycle route heading behind Haymarket Yards. I knew to watch out for the tramlines, cross at right angles etc, but that stretch has no margin for error.

    Despite taking things carefully my front wheel got caught and I was thrown. Fortunately no real damage other than some road-rash on hands and one knee, and no cars around at the time, but it's still scary to end up on the road.

    So my choice appears to be to risk the main road and aggresive drivers or take the "safe" bike route which has a frankly dangerous surface. I think I'll stick to the main road.

    Posted 6 years ago #
  2. Baldcyclist
    Member

    Funny (not you falling), I went that way tonight for the first time ever. Did think to myself that it wasn't a great experience crossing them where the cycle path is barrier'ed off at the corner. Not a great angle to have to cross over tram tracks.

    Posted 6 years ago #
  3. gembo
    Member

    Nae luck

    Any rethink on route? Make it longer but avoid whole interchange eg by using NEPN coming off at roseburn or if coming from other direction and heading for NEPN, go Dalry Gorgie way?

    Need your route really to know what to say.

    I go for miles to avoid tram tracks

    Posted 6 years ago #
  4. Instography
    Member

    Ouch. I go that way a lot in all weathers and haven't had any trouble. From Haymarket heading towards the path I cross into the middle of the left-hand set of tracks, which you can do at right angles by taking the corner wide, and go down between the rails until near the bottom where you get an almost perpendicular crossing.

    Coming in towards Haymarket you can usually stay to the left of the tracks and not cross any at all. If there's something parked on the left you can usually cross at right angles at the bottom of the road to get between the two sets of tracks and then the curve of the tracks will let you cross at right angles when you get to the top.

    Posted 6 years ago #
  5. Cyclingmollie
    Member

    Nasty. Glad you're okay. I saw a cyclist being picked up off Princes Street yesterday. She must have come off only a few seconds before. No idea what caused it. She looked to be in some pain.

    Posted 6 years ago #
  6. custard
    Member

    will the tracks get slippier or rougher with use?

    Posted 6 years ago #
  7. 14Westfield
    Member

    I still can't understand why the track cavity isn't filled with a foam/rubber type that wee bikes can't squash so ride over yet whopping trams do..
    The thought of someone falling off with a tram following behind is too awful to contemplate.

    Posted 6 years ago #
  8. holisticglint
    Member

    The thought of someone falling off with a tram following behind is too awful to contemplate

    http://archive.scottish.parliament.uk/business/committees/tram-one-bill/docs/15C_pr.pdf

    See table on page 7. Assuming they are doing 30mph along the roads then you really don't want to come off if there is a tram less than 50m behind you :-(

    Posted 6 years ago #
  9. Tulyar
    Member

    You obviously haven't had the experience of track brakes on a tram - should pull it to a stop in a very short distance. Unfortunately those inside the tram may not stop quite as quickly.

    Track brakes = when you REALLY want to stop energise these big magnets and 'glue' the tram on to the track.

    Essential for trams operating on street making emergency stops

    There is also the issue of under-run protection - on all streets the skirts/lifeguards of trams and buses are designed/intended to make the gap between bottom edge and the road surface so small that any fallen person is carried along or pushed clear of the vehicle. Some tram systems also fit level crossing panels at tram stops on ballasted track, so that the hazards of hitting a passenger crossing between platforms etc are covered.

    I gather that the first of the grass track sections is now being completed with a daisy meadow mix.

    Posted 6 years ago #
  10. DaveC
    Member

    Sorry to hear you fell off. I've cycled along there a few times, but never had a problem avoiding the tram lines. Is there some diversion which sends you down the line instead of across it?

    Posted 6 years ago #
  11. Bigjack
    Member

    I've made the mistake of trying Princes street a couple of times recently-the crossing of the tracks where both lines turn up to St Andrews square require lots of concentration, taking them at a suitable angle, and there's always lots of traffic bearing down on you there-and that's without trams- I fear many accidents to follow.

    Posted 6 years ago #
  12. AKen
    Member

    Cyclists and trams must mix a lot more in places like Amsterdam. Does anyone know whether incidents like this are common there and, if they aren't, how is this achieved?

    Posted 6 years ago #
  13. Stickman
    Member

    I agree that there are worse spots of tramlines than at Haymarket. However, I knew there were there, was approaching carefully and tried to cross them in the recommended manner. Yet I still managed to get thrown. I know I'm as guilty of bad cycling as anyone, but to me that would suggest that they are fundamentally dangerous to cyclists - not everyone will have seen the crossing instructions.

    Imagine if two-foot deep, car-tyre width parallel trenches were dug on all of the main roads, with car drivers told how to cross them and to "take care" around them. Would that be acceptable? (although admittedly the general speed of driving may fall, so maybe that is an idea.......)

    Posted 6 years ago #
  14. I've done the east end of Princes Street a few times now. Best option on an unladen bike is actually a sideways bunny hop x 2 over the first pair, then the angle for the second pair is better. But I doubt you can put that in any recommended advice list - and last night with the laden Kaff there was nae chance of that.

    And you still get brain dead morons in the EEN commenting along the lines of "How can cyclists be falling on the tracks? They're obvious and there are signs", but as you say Stickman, if there were car tyre width grooves in the road you can guarantee that, even with guidance on how to drive over them without damaging your car, that guidance just wouldn't work in every situation.

    Just wait for trams to be running, and it to be wet or slushy or snowy.... I'll be avoiding every single route with a tram line on it.

    Posted 6 years ago #
  15. chdot
    Admin

    "Best option on an unladen bike is actually a sideways bunny hop"

    Ooh are you offering masterclasses??

    Posted 6 years ago #
  16. fimm
    Member

    My boyfriend grew up in Innsbruck, where there are trams, and he says that cyclists manage fine around the tram tracks and Edinburgh cyclists are making much ado about nothing. I'm not saying I agree with him, that is what he says.

    I always slow right down for tram tracks. B/f might well say that is what I'm doing wrong, and taking things a bit more briskly would be better for crossing (he definitely says this about cattle grids).

    Posted 6 years ago #
  17. amir
    Member

    "he definitely says this about cattle grids"

    I can recommend a grid for him to test out his theory (repeatedly). I was doing 15-25 mph I think but not enough to stop a pinch flat + seriously skewed wheel.

    The problem is with these things is that you can get it right 99 times out of 100 but that just means it's gonna get you eventually.

    In Amsterdam (and Innsbruck), are there so many riders with skinny tyres?

    Posted 6 years ago #
  18. chdot
    Admin

    What does he say about driver #niceness?

    Posted 6 years ago #
  19. Cattle grids, speed, bunny hop...

    Having learned to bunny hop I use it whenever I can (I've been known to bunny hop potholes just for the hell of it rather than riding round). Of course it's even easier to bunny hop with clipless pedals.

    Posted 6 years ago #
  20. allebong
    Member

    Not had any trouble at the Haymarket bit on the commuter bike - running 1.95" tyres so the grooves are pretty irrelevant, can ride over them with relative impunity.

    Not so keen to try it on the road bike with skinnies though.

    Posted 6 years ago #
  21. Stickman
    Member

    Road bike with skinnies was my problem yesterday......

    Posted 6 years ago #
  22. Focus
    Member

    @ 14Westfield,

    "I still can't understand why the track cavity isn't filled with a foam/rubber type that wee bikes can't squash so ride over yet whopping trams do"

    MONEY. It was decided that it would add too much to the cost of the project to add the rubber track filler. While we rightly complain about the out of hand cost of the tram debacle, it's scary CEC put so little value on a cyclist's life.

    I've been down that route (Haymarket, heading westwards) and on the road bike it's a particularly unpleasant experience. I'm very conscious that I'm taking that section much slower than I otherwise would and that will be no fun with a tram behind. When they are finally running, I can see myself not bothering to use it. I got by before I knew it was there, I'll get by once the danger increases. But it's ridiculous an official cycle route should be made less cycle-friendly.

    Posted 6 years ago #
  23. Tulyar
    Member

    It is not the flangeway gap that is the problem in many cases, it is the fact that you hit a small vertical edge, like that of a badly installed dropped kerb, at a shallow angle. There are sections of the Edinburgh street track where the detail finish has a strip about 30-40cm wide riddled with dips and ridges, making it far more hazardous than simply riding across a rail gap.

    Sheffield Supertram inspect their street track regularly and mark any vertical edge greater than 3mm between railhead and street as a defect. This is linked to a historic crash where a motor car lost control on 'high' tram rails.

    Some of the finishing detail of the tram rails in the road in Edinburgh has been much poorer than both the 3mm standard and the 6mm standards that widely apply to many surface features as the MAXIMUM for any ridge or step.

    Filling the groove with a lump of rubber does not work, a detail that I've studied since 1990 when I saw the OMNI (Goodyear) units in Seattle falling apart and shedding lengths of the rubber tubes that were used to fill the flangeways.

    The veloSTRAIL units do seem to have cracked it, but are probably a very expensive way to do a whole on-street system. They have been retrofitted to the tram system in Geneva BUT that system used a much simpler track construction method, which does not include a huge slabs of concrete used for Edinburgh, and the units and drainage required were simpler to retro-fit. VeloSTRAIL uses a removable block which fits into the roadway surface and has a soft pad underneath, which crushes and springs back up under the weight of a rail wheel. Network Rail are testing a crossing as prelude to approving it for use although one of the other 400 or so railway operators in the UK may choose to install the system before NR approves it for the National network.

    Concluding though - if you do come off check the vertical profile of the road surface at that location - even an over zealous use of thermoplastic road markings will create a dangerous and slippery edge to kick your tyre sideways. Photograph the profile with a contrasting straightedge (stiff white card/folded stiff paper is good basic item ready at hand - ultimate for potholes etc is plaster cast or expanding foam under hardboard 'plate' with cling-film release membrane)

    Posted 6 years ago #
  24. Arellcat
    Moderator

    Filling the groove with a lump of rubber does not work, a detail that I've studied since 1990 when I saw the OMNI (Goodyear) units in Seattle falling apart and shedding lengths of the rubber tubes that were used to fill the flangeways.

    Not OMNI but similar:


    Safety first

    even an over zealous use of thermoplastic road markings will create a dangerous and slippery edge to kick your tyre sideways.


    Surface scales

    Suddenly the groove for the wheel flange doesn't seem so bad.

    Meanwhile, in Manchester:


    Manchester trams no.2

    Posted 6 years ago #
  25. bax
    Member

    I've often considered that it would be prudent for modern flat fronted vehicles such as trams or buses to have wide rail handles on the front, so that if a ped or cyclist gets caught out, they could potentially grab hold of the rail and perhaps buy some valuable time while the vehicle slows to a halt, instead of being immediately smashed and ground asunder.

    Presumably that's too much to ask these days, after all it would spoil the smooth aerodynamic contours..

    Posted 6 years ago #
  26. There is a chance it would act like a bullbar as well, no cushioning impact. So grabbuing hold of the rail would be hampered, possibly, by having had the grabbing arm smashed.

    Posted 6 years ago #
  27. le_soigneur
    Member

    I crossed the haymarket tram rails for the first time on Sun from Roseburn NEPN & also in the opposite direction on my winter bike (23mm tyres) without issue.
    As long as you get the front wheel across safely (and really, that is about picking your line early and visualising the result), you should be ok.
    In the wet/frost and in traffic the degree of difficulty goes up but with a bit of practice, you should get more confident and slick.
    Don't visualise the wheel and the rail, picture your front wheel on the other side of the rail.

    Posted 6 years ago #
  28. spytfyre
    Member

    Having fallen off in the snow twice and the wet once I know the feeling. Having also given first aid to someone else that came off I now carry a small first aid kit in my frame bag.

    Posted 6 years ago #
  29. Tulyar
    Member

    Nice follow through @arellcat I need to hire you as data collector/collater!

    Note the 5mm (approx) diameter straw as scaling aid.

    Top picture - not exactly an intensively used bit of track either - Shildon Locomotion outside main shed.

    ORR diagram in construction manual shows detail for rail in road as flush or +3mm maximum to -6mm.

    Manchester & Nottingham both to high standard for detail finish.

    Pictures of this detail on tram and level crossings welcome. NB Level Crossing safety consultation for Westminster Transport Select Committee response by 16/9 - let me have input or offer your own - current detail from Garve LC (Rossshire) would be useful, as it has Diagram 951 signs but not clear if it has enforceable TRO for No Cycling as level crossing is not part of adopted public road managed by roads authority.

    If you do fall on tram tracks the road 18" outside the outer edge of rails is tram operator's responsibility. Significant injury falls can qualify as RIDDOR (reporting injuries diseases and dangerous occurrences regulations) for reporting as Schedule 3 HSAW incident involving non-employee. So ensure record is made, even if only correct recording at A&E.

    Posted 6 years ago #
  30. holophrasis
    Member

    I consider myself an OK bike handler but that stretch makes me nervous.

    You get trapped either kerb side or in the middle of the tracks. When it comes to then crossing the rails at right-angles, space is tight to swing the bike round.

    So you need to concentrate.
    Now lets throw in rain/ice, darkness, trams, rush hour commuters and things might start to get really tricky.

    Bunny hopping with panniers isn't fun either.

    Posted 6 years ago #

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