Tips for Safe Tramline Adventures…
Tramlines, tramlines, tramlines. They’re everywhere in Edinburgh! In the streets, in the media and in the mind of every cyclist who ventures forth through the city centre. The past few days has seen a mass of attention thrown towards the dangers that the tracks pose to bicycles, especially since the release of videos showing a couple of unfortunate soul’s speedy meeting with the ground having dropped a wheel into the gap where the tram wheels run in the lines near Haymarket Station.
The issue is red hot because this problem was highlighted up to a year before the roads were re-opened to public use. The council is under pressure to, and does seem to be actively researching the best way to solve the problem, however until the wonder cure is found (and it certainly must be) some tramlines will continue to pose a risk to cyclists.
So, in the interest of self-preservation, cyclists must take great care in the vicinity of tramlines. Here is our take on how to make sure you don’t come a cropper, its not a definitive guide and you should find what works for you, but this is how Grease Monkey crew approach riding in town!
- Avoid routes with tramlines, especially busy ones! – This is by far and away the best way to make sure they don’t catch you off guard! Edinburgh is fortunate enough to be riddled with quiet back streets and alley ways, so if you can go a different way, do! Its better to take a bit longer to get where you’re going as long as you get there safely.
- Check what’s happening behind you almost constantly. Only cross the line if you have no vehicles passing or about to pass you, if you do come a cropper this will then hopefully give vehicles time to avoid you.
- Slow down to cross the lines – Crossing at a slower pace means you will be able to deal with the lines more easily, it also increases the chance that you will be able to get a foot down or a hand out should the worst happen. Feet down and hands out = broken fall. Be careful to slow down in plenty of time however, so that the traffic behind you isn’t caught off guard, can see clearly what you are doing and can compensate for it.
- Cross at an angle as close to 90 degrees as possible – This pretty much eliminates the chance of a wheel dipping in and throwing you off. Be aware, however, that other vehicular traffic may not be expecting you to come out wide and cut across lines sharply, so always make sure to signal clearly and keep good space between you and any cars behind. Stopping at a safe place at the side of the road until you have the time and space to cross at the desired angle may slow you down a bit, but if it saves the bus behind running over you its worth missing your morning cup of tea for.
- Tyre choice – Depending on the bike you ride, you may have scope to run a thicker tyre. While you may struggle to get a 700c tyre fat enough, if your bike has 26” wheels its likely that you will be able to find tyres that fit in the bike’s frame, but don’t fit in the gap! This will decrease the chance of you getting stuck in the rails and pitched over the bars as a result, but remember that shiny steel tracks are really slippery!
- Remember that you’re not obliged to use shared tram/bus/cycle lanes. If there is another lane open which leads the way you want to go, there is no reason that you can’t use it as long as you do so safely.