EDINBURGH'S tram network has been blamed for the death of a cyclist who fell after her wheel became trapped in the tracks and was hit by approaching traffic.

The 24-year-old woman was critically injured following the accident at 8.30am on Wednesday on Princes Street and died later in hospital.

It has prompted fresh calls for protective measures to be introduced to the Edinburgh tram line amid claims 141 cyclists are considering legal action after suffering injuries from falling on the tracks.

Campaigners have previously demanded the council adopt special rubber plugs – used in other tramways including in Germany – that allow cyclists to pass over the rail grooves safely but can be depressed by the weight of a passing tram.

Dave Du Feu, of cycling campaigners Spokes Lothian, said the accident site is known black spot.

He said: “We get reports of crashes very often, particularly where there is some sort of traffic pressure and you are therefore not able to approach the tram lines at the correct angle.

“There have been suggestions about what can be done there.

“One, which is seen quite a lot in Europe, which is advance cyclist traffic lights, so that you are given three or four seconds as a cyclist before the motor traffic starts.

“That means you can cross the tram lines before the motor traffic and if by any chance you did fall off in the tram line the traffic will see you.

The Herald:

Photo credit: Gordon Terris 

In March, it was reported that more than 250 people have been injured on tram tracks in Edinburgh at a cost of some £1.25 million to the NHS.

The number of cyclists and pedestrians hurt by falls on the rails was compiled by orthopaedic surgeon Professor Chris Oliver.

It showed a total of 252 people – 191 of them cyclists – have been injured.

At least 55 had arm fractures or dislocations, while eight suffered leg fractures and two had facial fractures.

Thomsons Solicitors is due to represent more than 100 alleged casualties in a forthcoming court case.

Partner Patrick McGuire said the fatality on Prince Street had been "heartbreaking" and "should not have happened".

He said: "Almost two years ago to the day I spoke out about the need for urgent action to be taken by the council to make the tram lines safer for cyclists because if it wasn't we would be facing a fatality.

"No action was taken to make these safety improvements.

"Those with responsibility over this matter must take a long hard look at themselves today."

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh City Council offered condolences to the family of the dead woman and said the authority had been "very saddened to hear of the tragic accident".

And she added: “Since before the launch over three years ago we have carried out extensive awareness-raising activity both online and on-street, in partnership with other organisations, much of which has focused specifically on cyclists. As part of this, markings were added to the road at Haymarket to direct cyclists along the safest possible routes.

“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. The Council advises: 'Anyone cycling near to and around the tram tracks should take care while they get used to them, especially in wet weather conditions as the tracks will be slippery. It’s best to cross the tracks as close to a right angle as possible and to take extra care to avoid getting wheels caught in between the rail grooves.'”

The council said in response to questions about previous warnings: “The council and our partners take road safety extremely seriously and we constantly review the range of measures we have in place to ensure that the Capital’s roads are safe for all road users, including cyclists.”

Police are investigating the death.