CityCyclingEdinburgh Forum » Infrastructure

Tram track issues - specific solutions

(93 posts)
  • Started 3 months ago by HankChief
  • Latest reply from EdinburghCycleCam

  1. HankChief
    Member

    In preparation for the meeting with the Minister next week on the dangers and risks of tram tracks, thought it would be good to collate the wisdom of CCE on what could be done to improve things across the whole tram route.

    Not limited to the location of last week's tragic incident and not looking at the speculating on the specifics of last week as we don't know what happened.

    I know we have had various discussions over the years and I'll dig out the links of the various suggestion from Spokes but it would be good to have everyone's views in one place.

    Thanks

    Posted 3 months ago #
  2. HankChief
    Member

  3. sallyhinch
    Member

    It's important here to distinguish between short-term measures that can be done fairly quickly (like changing the light timings to give cyclists a head start) and longer term solutions that involve reallocating road space to give bikes their own clear space. The former will make things better for existing cyclists, the latter will help to create cyclists.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  4. Frenchy
    Member

    These are only indirectly related, but:

    A left turn from Lothian Road to Shandwick Place using the dropped kerbs and pavement should be made legal, as originally planned. This is already the case at The Mound.

    Cycling west on West Maitland Street should be legal.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  5. LaidBack
    Member

    Light timing 'seems' like a quick fix as you say. It doesn't however send the message of 'space for cycling' directly.
    The Dutch way though would be to allow cyclists to progress through green pedestrian phases at junctions here. Though these phases are too short and crowded for that solution to work easily unless we stop 'stacking' hundreds of pedestrians waiting at crossings. Plenty of analysis of the vehicle movement domination from a pedestrian point of view. Walk, cycle, vote.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  6. gembo
    Member

    @hankchief, great to have pulled this together here in one place.

    In addition if time or n future, what do ther cities with big tram and cycling networks do to manage the inevitable conflict?

    In the past cyclists did have accidents with trams as they were the two most popular modes of commuting. Limbs were lost but few fatalities. The fatalities only really occur with the rise in car use.

    My view, which I imagine would not be popular with the minister would be banning of cars where there are tram lines in the city centre. All cars and other private vehicles routed down queen street. Of course that will happen at the west end junction so there needs to be an acceptable way of pedestrians and cyclists getting through. For example a way of getting straight ahead along princes street away from left and right turning vehicles.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  7. rbrtwtmn
    Member

    It seems important to say the following in this regard...

    The systemic response to a situation like this (i.e. what society as a whole does) it to try to turn it into a technical problem. The implication is:

    "Here's a really difficult problem, it's not really solvable, we'll meet with those involved and try really hard to come up with a solution but of course it may well be that no solution is possible. This is after all a really difficult thing we're trying to do"

    In reality this is not a difficult problem technically. Any roads engineer with a basic level of competence could solve it IF they were presented with it properly. At the moment what's asked of them is to build something in which cycling is catered for only where motorised traffic isn't inconvenienced by doing so. That's what's been built here.

    Any engineer - if given permission to design properly for cycling here could do so. They might not understand what 'properly' looks like but we can define that easily.

    1. It should be possible to cycle through junctions with less or equal inconvenience compared to those driving
    2. Those cycling should not be asked to cross tram lines at an acute angle
    3. All routes and all combinations of route should be open to those cycling
    4. Those cycling should not be asked to walk
    5. THESE PRINCIPLES ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE PRINCIPLE OF ALLOWING FOR MOTORISED TRAFFIC

    These are simple principles. Any engineer could work with them. No special expertise is needed.

    If we're not careful we end up being played by the system. I AM in favour of us getting involved in the technical side of things but all I'm saying is that we need to recognise the risks. If we're not careful we become complicit with the idea that some great technical difficulty exists where it doesn't really. That lets people off the hook - allows for failure where none should be allowable.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  8. Arellcat
    Moderator

    Overheard from an IOSH-qualified person yesterday:

    "Well just ban bikes from all the roads with trams."

    Because bicyclists are the problem, not the slippy rails, the motorists, the poor surfaces, the junction designs.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  9. sallyhinch
    Member

    Yes, I think rbrtwtmn's point is really important.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  10. sallyhinch
    Member

    I would add also - 4a - any solution shouldn't inconvenience pedestrians

    Posted 3 months ago #
  11. Morningsider
    Member

    rbrtwtmn - excellent post. We should focus on establishing principles for any redesign (I doubt yours can really be improved on) and tell the Minister that we will assess any proposals against those principles.

    The danger of coming up with our own proposals is that they can be easily shot down by highways engineers or bean counters. Put the ball in their court and remind them of their target of 10% of everyday trips by bike by 2020 (actually 15% target in Edinburgh, as a signatory to the Charter of Brussels) and the road user hierarchy (pedestrian, bike, bus, service vehicles, car).

    Motorists haven't been asked to redesign Sheriffhall - we shouldn't have to redesign this junction (or other tram blackspots).

    Posted 3 months ago #
  12. gembo
    Member

    @arellcat, the counter to the ban cyclists from roads with trams in city centre is the one I put - ban cars from roads with tram tracks, proposed in effect to cancel out the ban bikes proposal.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  13. Blueth
    Member

    It's true Arellcat that the first step in the hierarchy of hazard controls is elimination of the hazard, but cyclists are not the hazard. An IOSH person should know better.

    Similarly, the trams, as a construction project, under the Construction, Design and Management Regs, should not have designed in an avoidable hazard (at all, but certainly not without any mitigation measures). But we all know they failed at the first hurdle of the design process.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  14. rbrtwtmn
    Member

    I should say that, almost disagreeing with myself, at the same time as thinking the above I'm also wondering whether there's value in cataloguing the problems. BUT what I've been thinking is that we could do this in a way which doesn't get into technicalities. Any member of the public could see why the current situation is dangerous if it's presented in the right way. We wouldn't need to offer judgement or comment, just to set up a collection of rules (something like as above) and highlight points where they are broken. I'm tending to think of video evidence here... a video catalogue of each option through each of the junctions.

    Anyone think it would be interesting to do that? We could include getting off the bike where this is demanded (like the left from Dalry Road into Haymarket Terrace). In doing this we could highlight the length of the walk required should we get on/off the bike at a proper safe stopping point rather than at a compromised location.

    We could even include the possible diversion routes. Of course lots of this would be very boring - long walks, long diversions, lots of silliness in terms of what we'd need to do on the bike - but to some extent that would be the point.

    My thinking is that offering this up as public evidence without judgement would be a relatively intelligent way to say "for goodness sake nobody needs a degree in road engineering to see what's wrong here".

    But it's a bit of work and I'm put off to some extent by the point about not getting involved in technicalities...

    Thoughts welcome.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  15. rbrtwtmn
    Member

    Sally - on your point

    4a) "Any solution shouldn't inconvenience pedestrians"

    I almost wrote something similar but I wasn't sure exactly how to word it. I didn't want to write something that could be used to prevent a decent solution... you can predict the discussion can't you...
    "yes we could do that of course but then pedestrians would have a further 15 centimetres to cross the road and your principle of not inconveniencing pedestrians would be broken"

    I think I'd add a couple of additional principles - something more like this (renumbered as required)...

    1. It should be possible to walk through the junctions with less or equal inconvenience to those cycling or driving
    2. This first principle should apply for any combination of entrance and exit point from the junction.
    3. If junctions are designed with signals this first principle above should apply even if those on foot follow strictly the indications provided by the signals.
    4. If to achieve the first principle it is desired that people will be able to cross the road informally, away from signalised crossings or without following signal indications, then such informal crossing should be catered for clearly.

    I have in mind that when you observe those on foot at the main Haymarket junction the only reason it works - particularly at rush hour - is because people take their lives in their hands and cross informally. That wouldn't be such a large problem, but in the UK when people do so they are often treated as deserving to die... I've regularly seen people driven AT. You've all seen it... if you walk on the road when you shouldn't people will drive AT you hooting their horn rather than slowing down. I saw someone get very close to being killed at Haymarket - the reason I noticed was the taxi horn being blown repeatedly as the taxi got closer and closer to them. This happened often enough for me to look up, locate where I'd heard the noise, evaluate what was going on, and then see the person leap out of the way at the last minute. The last time I saw recently this was with a group of foreign tourists, including a child, making a mistake on Morrison Street. The heavy LORRY was driven at them in this way - horn being blown until they jumped off the road...

    What kind of a city are we living in when the penalty for making the mistake of 'being in the wrong at traffic signals' is potential death...

    Posted 3 months ago #
  16. Klaxon
    Member

    Assuming a will to spend money to remove the real hazards here

    Lothian Rd, Princes St, Shandwick Pl
    The tram line base needs rebuilt to align the lines parallel and centre in both directions*. In doing so space for a 2m stepped cycle lane can be found on both sides. A bike only lane into Charlotte Square should be built for anyone who wants to go that way (currently an illegal, but common, move).

    Princes St should be reallocated (as easy as paint or rubber kerbs to start with) to 2 lanes Eastbound and 2 lanes westbound (1 for Princes St, 1 for Charlotte Sq)

    In doing so one removes the 'need' for Charlotte Sq to also have 2 lanes each way and creates space for segregated cycle lanes all the way though to the 'bus only' part of Princes St.

    The assumption the west end junction needs high volume private vehicle movements is the reason compromises have been made on safety.

    I would do my usual MS paint job but can't find a suitable base image to work off.

    * This is only about 100m worth of track and could be done very rapidly if pride swallowed about closing the tram line for a month

    Posted 3 months ago #
  17. Klaxon
    Member

    In the absence of Paint I'm going full Dwarf Fortress.

    Shandwick Pl Section - 21m at Ghillie Dhu (ignoring 'beer garden')

    Each column, including pipes used as dividers | is 1 metre of road space. All drawn 'looking' westbound

    Existing
    |--|--|----|----|----|
    |PP|TR|XING|TRTR|PPPP|

    Possible
    |----|-|--|--|-|----|
    ppppp|C|TR|TR|C|ppppp

    Pavement- 5m
    Cycle lane- 2m
    Bus/tram lane - 3m
    Bus/tram lane - 3m
    Cycle lane- 2m
    Pavement- 5m

    Princes St Section - 29m at Santander

    Existing

    -----|--|--|--|--|--|--|-----
    ppppp|VV|vv|TR|TR|vv|VV|ppppp

    Possible

    -----|--|--|--|--|--|--|-----
    ppppp|CC|vv|TR|TR|vv|CC|ppppp

    Pavement- 6m
    Cycle lane- 3m
    Bus/tram lane - 3m
    Bus/tram lane - 3m
    Cycle lane- 3m
    Pavement- 6m

    The extra wide cycle lanes marked CC (3m - 1 full road lane) would be split in half with separate light phasing for Lothian Rd and Shandwick Pl (westbound) and Princes St/Charlotte Sq (eastbound)

    Posted 3 months ago #
  18. fimm
    Member

    Simple, cheap, short-term, easy to implement with the situation as it is now:
    Signs at all road junctions where there are tram tracks saying something like
    "Motorists Allow Cyclists Time And Space To Cross Tram Tracks Safely",
    or
    "Drivers Give Cyclists Time And Space Around Tram Tracks".

    Posted 3 months ago #
  19. chdot
    Admin

    Posted 3 months ago #
  20. gembo
    Member

    If you have the time / inclination Google Matt McGinn Troubled Waters. You get a YouTube video of auld Glasgow, sort of Oscar mazaroli wee girls in their mum's high heel shoes, gorbals diehards. Bear with. The song then comes on ( I happen to like mAtt McGinn but he is a bit coarse for some, this is him at his gentlest) as the song progresses there is a clip of old Glasgow trams with a guy on a bike following the tram up the middle of the tracks and taking a right over the tracks when the tram turns.

    Although the this looks quite mental it is in fact fairly safe as there are no cars just the cyclist and the trams.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  21. sallyhinch
    Member

    @klaxon would streetmix help? https://streetmix.net/

    Posted 3 months ago #
  22. sallyhinch
    Member

    @rbrtwtmn - in a sense, almost all LAs have signed up to some thing similar as most of them have a policy document somewhere that says along the lines of 'put pedestrians first, then cyclists, then public transport users, with private cars last'.

    I'm not sure if it has official status or not, or the exact hierarchy, but it gets quoted a lot - and then largely ignored

    Posted 3 months ago #
  23. Muirwoods
    Member

    @sallyhinch - the hierarchy pops up in lots of places but probably most useful appearance is paragraph 273 of Scottish Planning Policy:

    273. The spatial strategies set out in plans should support development in locations that allow walkable access to local amenities and are also accessible by cycling and public transport. Plans should identify active travel networks and promote opportunities for travel by more sustainable modes in the following order of priority: walking, cycling, public transport, cars. The aim is to promote development which maximises the extent to which its travel demands are met first through walking, then cycling, then public transport and finally through use of private cars. Plans should facilitate integration between transport modes.

    Scottish Planning Policy

    Somewhat less direct reference in National Planning Framework 3:

    5.25 Freight transport networks are critical to our economy. Our transport plans will benefit the sector through continued investment in infrastructure. This will help to reduce congestion and encourage modal shift where this is practical and feasible. We will continue to work with industry to ensure efficiency of road movements from both a business and carbon reduction perspective. Over the long-term, wider efforts to increase the use of public transport, and promote walking and cycling for everyday journeys will help to reduce congestion arising from personal travel and benefit the freight sector.

    National Planning Framework 3

    Still generally not planning for this hierarchy though...

    Posted 3 months ago #
  24. Frenchy
    Member

    The designers of the proposed new Sheriffhall roundabout certainly weren't aware of that hierarchy...

    Posted 3 months ago #
  25. Klaxon
    Member

    Streetmix is exactly what I wanted to use but couldn't remember the name, thank you @sallyhinch!

    Click for my efforts.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  26. nedd1e_h
    Member

    I'm pretty sure you can forget about realigning the tram tracks. Never gonna happen. No one has the appetite for years more disruption.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  27. sallyhinch
    Member

    Meanwhile in San Francisco http://www.sfbike.org/news/designing-for-tracks-on-17th-street/

    Posted 3 months ago #
  28. HankChief
    Member

    One for the train buffs...

    Garve Level crossing by HankChief, on Flickr

    The Garve level crossing catches out passing cyclists, including those doing the NorthCoast500. The 'solution' is to ban cycling over the crossing via a small sign barely visible behind the lights.

    Needless to say it is often missed/ignored - me & my mate missed it last summer when we were doing 18mph with traffic behind us. My mate came down and suffered some minor road rash :-(

    I'm trying to do some digging into just how many people come down on it. I expect there is lots of underreporting. Someone's FOI request to the Ambulance service has only one incident between 2010-2015.

    Whether with the NC500 it becomes more popular will be hard to know, but still another example of poor layout impacting cyclists.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  29. Arellcat
    Moderator

    In Hankchief's photo, the dark grey diagonal strip is the railway.

    The natural crossing angle for road users is 15 degrees.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  30. Klaxon
    Member

    This is exactly the sort of crossing the STRAIL rail gap filling product is for (not 1km of tram line)

    Posted 3 months ago #

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