MORE than 100 cyclists are now pursuing compensation claims against Edinburgh City Council after being injured on the capital's tram lines, amid plans to extend the route.

Campaigners are urging city bosses not to repeat the design flaws of the current line if the trams are extended to Leith and Newhaven.

Prior to construction of the existing tram route, Dutch consultants commissioned to draw up a report on the scheme recommended that safety would be maximised if cyclists never had to cross the tram tracks at anything less than an 90-degree angle to reduce the risk of slipping, especially on rainy days. They also advised that accidents would be reduced if cyclists were segregated in bike lanes where they would be travelling in the opposite direction to the trams.

However, this was not followed through and is considered to be a major factor behind the high number of accidents.

Solicitor Stewart White, who is acting on behalf of more than 110 cyclists who have suffered broken bones, fractures and facial injuries as a results of falls on the tram lines, said: "These consultants came over from the Netherlands, they made a series of recommendations and they basically said 'if you can't do this safely it's better not to do it at all'.

"They recommended bi-directional cycle lanes and if you are making cyclists cross tram tracks, they should be crossing at a minimum 45-degree angle and ideally at a 90-degree angle.

"But the way it's been set up, in some cases, that's impossible for cyclists to do. The upshot is that we have a system that for cyclists is totally dysfunctional and it's dangerous as well."

Mr Stewart, of Thompson Solicitors, the legal firm which is handling the bulk of personal injury claims for cyclists injured on the tram lines, said that the compensation could range from hundreds of pounds to five-figure sums for the most serious cases.

Since the trams lines were first laid in 2009, there have been 260 recorded incidents of cyclists being injured.

That compares to just 16 over an 11 year period in Sheffield, where the 'Supertram' launched in 1994, and nine over an 11-year period in Croydon, which began operating its tramlink in 2000.

However, Mr Stewart believes that only around 40 per cent of accidents in Edinburgh are ever reported to the council, suggesting that the true toll could be well over 500.

Last week, councillors backed a motion recommending that, if extended, the tram route should encompass Leith and Newhaven, adding a further three miles to the line which currently runs between Edinburgh Airport and York Place in the city centre.

Ian Maxwell, spokesman for Lothian cycling campaigners, Spokes, said the organisation would be "broadly supportive" of more trams as long as the route was cycle-friendly.

"The experience in central Edinburgh at the moment is that the tram has caused more congestion and makes cycling less attractive," said Mr Maxwell.

"If you are running a tram down the middle of Leith Walk you're taking up quite a lot of space, so you have to counteract that - not by taking space away from pedestrians and cyclists - but by banning private cars."

Transport Convener, Councillor Lesley Hinds, said: “Cycle safety is of utmost importance to the Council and to this end we have gone to every effort to raise awareness of the impact of the tram on all road users, carrying out extensive awareness-raising activity both online and on-street. Like many other European cities Edinburgh now incorporates both cyclists and trams and, as in these cities, cyclists are advised to take care when travelling near the tram tracks.

“We will continue to demonstrate our commitment to cycling in Edinburgh, prioritising cycle safety, alongside any development in the city.”