Dave Berry | Partner

Fairley and Lowdean v Edinburgh Trams

The Court of Session has recently issued its decision in two cases where cyclists were injured when cycling across tram lines in Edinburgh.

The accidents occurred at Haymarket and at Princes Street. Both cases were heard at the same time by the court due to “a significant degree of overlap in the factual and expert evidence led, and in the legal issues in these two actions.”

The tram system in Edinburgh has been in place for a few years now, and there have been reports of a number of cyclists having sustained injury in accidents when crossing the tram lines. Here, the pursuers’ cases were that the layout, road markings and traffic conditions created a hazard to cyclists by guiding them across the tram tracks at a shallow angle.

Ms Fairley had her accident a couple of days after the section of tram line had opened at Haymarket. She was aware if a triangular “slippy bike” sign, however she was unfamiliar with the route. When she crossed the tram line, her rear wheel slipped and was pulled back into the tram track.

Mr Lowdean had lived in Edinburgh for a little over a year when he had his accident. He was aware of a warning sign between the tram tracks, so headed for that section of road. There was a bus blocking his lane to the left. When changing lanes, he had to cross a tram track. As he did so, his rear wheel slipped and he was thrown from his bike.

Evidence was also led by other cyclists who had been unfortunate enough to have been involved in accidents whereby they had fallen from bikes due to the tram system. Expert evidence was also led in relation to the design of the tram line and the particular circumstances of the accidents involving Ms Fairley and Mr Lowdean.

The court held that it was necessary to consider the risk “in the context of the particular situation, including the road layout and tram tracks, in which each pursuer found herself and himself.” In Ms Fairley’s case, the court held that there was “no safe angle achievable for a cyclist” to cross the tram line and that the “road layout constituted a significant hazard” to cyclists. In Mr Lowdean’s case, the layout of the road to include a large number of bus stops on Princes Street meant that cyclists like him would have to cross lanes to navigate Princes Street.

In both cases, the court held that there was  a specific risk that cyclists would have to cross the tram tracks at a shallow angle while following the expected line and direction of travel. The court also found that the risks were reasonably foreseeable to the Council, Edinburgh Trams Limited and Transport Initiatives Edinburgh Limited. The court also held that both Pursuers had done all that they could do for their own safety, and had not contributed to their accidents in any way. The final decision was that the defenders were liable to make payment to the Pursuers for undisclosed sums, on a 100% liability basis.

Dave Berry

Dave Berry

Personal Injury Team

“It may be something of a cliché but I enjoy helping my clients and guiding them through what can often be the daunting prospect of being involved in a personal injury court action, whilst also ensuring I obtain the best possible result for them.”

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