Every death of a cyclist on the road is a tragedy – and often one that could have been avoided. But the death on Wednesday (31st May) of a young woman in Edinburgh on Wednesday has hit a nerve with cyclists across Scotland. It’s not just that Malaysian medical student Zhi Min Soh was young (just 23), with what should have been a bright future in front of her, and a guest in our country. It’s that she appears to have been killed after her bike slipped on the tram tracks on Princes Street.
We don’t know the full details of what happened with Ms Soh, and we don’t wish to speculate prematurely. However, we and every other cyclist we have spoken to personally and online are angry as well as saddened at this death. Edinburgh’s tram tracks have been described as an accident waiting to happen from the moment they were unveiled. At Haymarket, along Princes Street, and particularly at Shandwick Place where this tragedy took place, cyclists are forced to mix with traffic as they negotiate the tracks, often without the space to cross the rails at the prescribed 90 degree angle.
As a result, hundreds of cyclists have been injured from falls on the tracks, and thousands more have had close shaves, putting many off cycling those roads at all. This is a sorry record for a city that aspires to be the most cycle-friendly in Scotland. We should not have had to wait for a young woman to die for there to be ministerial action, and a review. This should have been tackled right from the start when the trams were put in and the alarm was first raised.
As a result, this Wednesday (7th June), at 8:30 am, cyclists in Edinburgh will be marking Zhi Min Soh’s death. There will be a short, respectful protest at the junction where she died, reflecting the emotion that has bubbled up in the days since this senseless death. Although we are not organising it, we fully support this action and ask anyone who can to come and join them, on bike or on foot, and whether you cycle or not.
If you can attend, please make your way directly to Shandwick Place for 8:30 a.m. If you can, bring a sign or a placard letting people know what it is about. People will gather at the junction for a minute’s silence, and a lament from a piper to remember this death, and to ask for the City of Edinburgh to take action to ensure that it will be the last.