Design guidance intended to make tramways safer for cyclists has been published by the Light Rail Safety & Standards Board,

UK: Design guidance intended to make tramways safer for cyclists has been published by the Light Rail Safety & Standards Board, however Cycling UK has told Metro Report International that it is a missed opportunity which does not adequately take into account the wider street environment.

LRSSB said bicycle usage is increasing as part of a move towards more active urban travel, and it is important that tramways are designed to safely integrate cycling for all ages and abilities as part of holistic transport schemes.

Early liaison with highway authorities as well as with local cycling and active travel groups is advised, and the design of future tram lines should take cycling into account. The guidance calls for bikes and trams to be segregated as far as practicable, but says that cycle routes should still be direct to avoid the risk of dedicated lanes not being used. Good lighting and convenient cycle parking are also advised.

Edinburgh tram

A key recommendation is that the angle for a cycle lane to cross tram tracks should be at least 60°, because the risk of cycling accidents caused by a slippery rail head or a wheel being trapped in the rail groove significantly increases at lower angles. The guidance says a number of tramways have experimented with groove infills to prevent bicycle wheels becoming trapped, but so far no proprietary system has been deemed successful.

‘The new guidance will be an invaluable tool in helping designers and operators to maximise good practice and minimise risks for the interaction of cyclists and tramways’, said Mark Ashmore, LRSSB Safety & Assurance Manager.

‘Much of the guidance is based on experience gained from existing UK tramways and similar networks overseas’, Ashmore explained. ‘We don’t intend our findings to be applied retrospectively, but owners and operators should consider them when undertaking track renewal schemes.’

However, Roger Geffen, Policy Director at the Cycling UK charity, told Metro Report International that the guidance ‘missed some important issues’. He said designs need to take into account what traffic conditions are acceptable for cyclists, as experience in Edinburgh has demonstrated that the need to allow for the movements of cars and pedestrians can lead to conflicts with trams.

Geffen is concerned at guidance saying ‘the clearance between kerb and the nearest rail should be an absolute minimum of 1 000 mm’, as Cycling UK sees this as too narrow and says it should be 1 500 mm at the very minimum and ideally 2 000 mm, to take into account obstructions such as gutters.

He believed the guidance was well intentioned but not well executed. ‘I hope there will be an opportunity to engage and put this right.’