Luas tracks causing rise in cycling injuries, says hospital worker

The fitting of rubber strips along tracks to aid safety was rejected for being ‘too expensive’

Dublin Cycling Campaign has received numerous reports from cyclists of falls or near-misses in the city centre due to the new tram tracks. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Dublin Cycling Campaign has received numerous reports from cyclists of falls or near-misses in the city centre due to the new tram tracks. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Cycling injuries resulting from crashes after bicycle wheels become stuck in Dublin’s Luas tram tracks are becoming increasingly common, a hospital emergency department worker has said.

Orla Kirwan, who is based at Dublin’s Mater hospital, said there had been an increase in cyclists presenting with injuries from accidents involving the tracks.

“It’s common enough. Two weeks ago we had a lady with a nasty fracture” in her arm, she said.

Ms Kirwan fractured her own elbow after her front wheel got caught in the tracks as she was cycling across Harcourt Street, throwing her over the handlebars.

“I was catapulted out on to the street,” she said. “Luckily there was no traffic at the time.”

In March Angela O’Brien was cycling across College Green when her front wheel got caught in the new tracks, throwing her over the handlebars and on to the road. She sustained minor injuries, but said the experience has put her off cycling in the city.

“I was flung across the road,” she said. “I haven’t cycled since in the city centre.” She added that “College Green is lethal” since the tracks were laid.

‘Really dangerous’

Katharine Deas, a Londoner now living in Sandymount, said a bus forced her too close to the tram tracks and her wheel got stuck, throwing her off her bicycle. “It’s really dangerous. Bus drivers in Dublin don’t understand that around the Luas tracks they need to take more care of cyclists,” she said.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland is erecting signs at busy stretches of road along the Luas track on Grafton Street, Nassau Street and Dawson Street advising cyclists to “dismount” and walk due to the “restricted width” between the kerb and tram track in some places.

During the construction of the cross-city line, the fitting of rubber strips along the tracks, which has helped protect against cycling accidents in other countries, was considered but later rejected. The rubber would need to be regularly replaced and this was deemed too expensive in the long run.

Dr Mike McKillen, of the Dublin Cycling Campaign, said the group had received numerous reports from cyclists of falls or near-misses in the city centre due to the new tram tracks.

He said the most likely solution to the problem would be cyclists avoiding black spots of the city centre where the tram tracks run at tight angles. “Unfortunately that looks to be the most pragmatic solution for cyclists.”