A council has had to pay out more than £1.2m to cyclists who have fallen off their bike on Edinburgh's tram line.

It comes three years after two cyclists won a "landmark" court ruling following accidents while they crossed tram lines in Edinburgh.

Lady Wolffe ruled the road layout and the tram tracks had presented a "relevant hazard" to the cyclists, Elizabeth Fairley and Iain Lowdean.

They took action against the City of Edinburgh Council and tram operators after separate accidents at different points on the tracks in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

At the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Lady Wolffe dismissed any suggestion negligence on the part of either cyclist had contributed to the accidents and ruled the design and materials used for the tracks were to blame. Undisclosed damages were awarded.

Lady Wolffe's judgment was expected to lead to a surge in similar actions. Some 39 other cases were put on hold while the two lead cases were tested in court.

In the first of the two cases, Elizabeth Fairley, 58, a critical care nurse with the Royal hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, sued Edinburgh Trams Ltd and the city council for £50,000.

She said she was thrown into the path of passing cars and sustained injuries to her face and knee when her rear wheel was caught in tracks that had been made slippery by drizzle in Haymarket in October 2013.

In the second case, Iain Lowdean, 35, a professional golfer, sued Transport Initiatives Edinburgh, the now dissolved company set up to build the tram routes, and the council for £15,000. He fell after stopping at a junction on Princes Street in October 2012, sustaining injuries to his right hand and knee.

Now it has emerged that there have been 196 successful claims made against Edinburgh City Council since 2012, two years before the trams were first operating, by cyclists who were injured as a result of the tracks. A total of £1,262,141 in damages has been paid out.

Cyclists win £1.2m damages over claims related to injuries caused by Edinburgh tram tracks

There have been 422 accidents involving cyclists on tram tracks, with the vast majority occurring along Princes Street and around Haymarket.

Spokes Edinburgh, found three years ago that 191 cyclists had been injured by the tracks between May 2009, when construction of the line was under way, and April 2016.

The study of patients attending accident and emergency departments showed 63 had fractures or dislocations, mostly to their arms. In 142 cases, a bicycle wheel was caught in the tracks, while in 32, a wheel slid on them.

Edinburgh’s tram tracks are notorious among the city’s cyclists and believed to be far more dangerous than tram lines in other cities.

After the 2019 case, the council said that cycle safety was of the “utmost importance”. Changes had been made to the tram lines and safety measures added to a tram extension to Newhaven, including a separated cycle lane down Leith Walk, it said.

Zhi Min Soh, a Malaysian medical student, was killed in 2017 when she fell into the path of a minibus after her wheels were caught in tracks in central Edinburgh. Cycling campaigners staged a peaceful protest at the spot where she died.

Edinburgh’s transport convener Scott Arthur said: “It is important to note that some of these claims pre-date the opening of the line and the many safety improvements made since then.

“Nonetheless, the number of claims submitted is concerning to me. I am committed to ensuring the safety of all road users, and I know that over the last five years the Council has been working on a phased package of improvements to cycle safety along the tram route.”

Safety changes made in recent years include new red-surfaced cycle lanes at key points along the tram route ‘to direct cyclists on the safest route to cross the tram tracks to avoid getting their wheels stuck’."

He added: "The council is now in the process of completing phase three of the project, which includes significant changes to the road layouts at six junctions to give greater priority to people on bikes.

“This is in addition to previous measures like enhanced road markings and the installation of cycle early release signals at 13 junctions along the route. The west end junction on Princes Street is a key focus too, and its remodelling will be a key part of the transformation of the Lothian Road corridor.

“I have just written to Sustrans requesting funding for design work which will result in the transformation of this key route into the city centre.

“The council’s commitment to cycle safety has been central to Trams to Newhaven which has drawn from lessons learnt in the first project. As well as a dedicated cycle lane down Leith Walk, the scheme is delivering improvements for pedestrians and cyclists along the whole route.”