Edinburgh Trams - Making the City More Dangerous?
Edinburgh Council has just accepted a report from Council officials that deaths from traffic accidents were 43% above target. This is hardly something to just shrug off, yet it was accepted by the Councillors of the Transport and Environment Committee almost without demur on the advice of senior Council officials. It seems utterly incredible that this was so meekly accepted when one realises that there has actually been a 5% reduction in traffic! But beware good people of Edinburgh - and visitors - the city is shortly going to be a very much more dangerous place to get around. Even at the moment with Princes Street currently open to cyclists, taxis and the buses, we have had a large number of cycle accidents due to cyclists getting their wheels stuck in tram lines.
This is going to get very much worse when Shandwick Place, West Maitland Street, Haymarket, St Andrew Square and York Place are opened up for cycle traffic. The number of accidents involving cyclists is bound to rise significantly. But even worse is about to happen; when the dreaded tram starts to run next year, this will so restrict traffic on the main Shandwick Place/Princes Street route and in St Andrew Square/York Place, that congestion and driver frustration levels will reach an all time peak.
As the tram has a considerably worse stopping distance than buses or taxis, we can expect many more accidents where traffic is mixed together. The only recourse for the Council is to remove buses and taxis from Princes Street, Shandwick Place, St Andrew Square and York Place - the result will inevitably be even more pollution for the citizens of the residential New Town World Heritage site.
Currently levels have risen by 14% (in spite of there being the 5% reduction in traffic mentioned earlier) so when traffic levels increase, this will do little to make visitors feel welcome to the city. All we can suggest is for everyone in the city to have Japanese-style pollution masks and carry a first aid kit (particularly cyclists)in case you have an accident!