Cycle death fear after nearly 500 accidents on Sheffield's tram tracks

Zhi Min Soh.
Zhi Min Soh.

Hundreds of cyclists have been involved in accidents on Sheffield's tram tracks in the last two years - leading to fears it is only a matter of time before someone is killed.

Campaign group Cycle Sheffield revealed 441 incidents have been reported to them since January 2015 and described the tram tracks as the 'biggest danger to cyclists in Sheffield'.

Dexter Johnstone.

Dexter Johnstone.

The organisation is now campaigning for a raft of new safety measures to be introduced before someone loses their life on the tracks. A young woman was recently killed in Scotland when her bike got stuck on the rails.

Dexter Johnstone, secretary of Cycle Sheffield, said: "The accidents are all caused by bike wheels either slipping on the rails or going in the tram track groove, although vehicles might be involved - for example a driver pulling out in front of cyclist causing them to swerve.

"The data shows that tram tracks pose the biggest danger to cyclists in Sheffield and we know they deter people from making journeys by bike.

"No fatalities have occurred in the time we have been recording the data, however, it is a concern that it could happen.

Map showing the locations of the accidents on the tram network.

Map showing the locations of the accidents on the tram network.

"The death of Zhi Min Soh in Edinburgh (who was struck by a minibus in May after she fell into the vehicle’s path when her bike wheels got stuck in a tram track) shows it is always a possibility when people on bikes are expected to cycle on roads with this hazard."

Cycle Sheffield said many of the accidents happen when the tram platforms jut into the road reducing the amount of space between kerb and rail and when tram tracks join or leave the carriageway at an acute angle.

The top five hot spots were Primrose View tram stop near Walkley, White Lane tram stop in Gleadless, Glossop Road/Upper Hanover Street in the city centre, Holme Lane/Loxley New Road in Malin Bridge and Hillsborough Corner.

Warning signs have now been put up across the tram network as part of the 'Tram/Cycle Safety Action Plan' - a collaboration between Cycle Sheffield and Sheffield Council.

A tram.

A tram.

A feasibility study has also been launched to see what else can be done to improve infrastructure for cyclists at the top five hot spots.

Mr Johnstone, aged 34, of Walkley, said: "In the long run we need separate cycle paths alongside roads with tram tracks or, where space is more limited, direct and continuous alternative routes which are clearly signed

"Suggested solutions could be tram stop bypasses - running a cycle path round the back of the platform - which would work for Primrose View tram stop, or for the Hanover Way/Glossop Road junction it might make sense to avoid the junction altogether by directing people on bikes along the new, high quality cycle route they have built along Leaveygreave Road and Portobello.

"Sheffield Council has ambitious targets for increasing cycling - 10 per cent of all journeys by 2025 and 25 per cent of all journeys by 2050 - and so this problem will need to be addressed."

The council recently secured £2.5 million funding from the City Region’s Sustainable Transport Plan to improve cycle routes.

A Sheffield Council spokesman said: “We understand that tram tracks cause issues for road cyclists and have investigated specific areas where accidents have occurred. This has led to safety signs being placed in key locations and now we are progressing options to improve the safety of five locations with a higher number of accidents."