MOTORISTS who park for free along some of the Capital’s busiest routes are set to be hit by new charges.
City transport bosses are to press ahead with plans to close a loophole which allows drivers to park without paying on Greenways bus lanes outwith peak travel times, even though parking charges apply in nearby side streets.
Up to 235 parking spaces on key routes out of the city centre will be affected by the change.
And the council intends to use the opportunity to bring in a trial scheme for cashless parking.
The charges for parking on the Greenways would be the same as those for side streets in the surrounding area.
A Traffic Regulation Order is expected to be advertised soon, setting out the new arrangements and allowing people to make representations. It could take up to a year before they come into effect.
Ian Maxwell, spokesman for cycling campaign group Spokes, welcomed the proposals.
He said: “Anything that helps keep roads clear for longer is a good idea. A major problem in Edinburgh is routes intended to help cyclists end up being obstructed by parked vehicles. Cyclists then have to zig-zag in and out of lanes.”
The spaces involved include 60 along the Leith Walk Greenways, 45 along Lothian Road, 70 in Dalry Road/Lanark Road and 60 from Shandwick Place to Glasgow Road.
The council already offers motorists the option of paying for parking via their mobile phone, using the RingGo system introduced to Edinburgh five years ago. It has proved popular and in 2013/14 RingGo payments totalled £4,095,180 compared with £10,456,989 from traditional pay and display machines.
In 2009, Westminster City Council became the first local authority in the UK to remove all its parking meters in favour of cashless parking. Motorists are now expected to pay by mobile phone or buy a scratchcard to display in their car window.
Brighton and Hove council is getting rid of half its meters and expects to save £250,000.
Transport leader Lesley Hinds was cautious about such a drastic move and said the council had to take account of people who had difficulty with paying for parking by phone.
The Greenways trial will see no new parking machines installed and motorists encouraged to use the RingGo system, but they will still be able to use pay and display machines in neighbouring side streets if they choose.
Councillor Hinds said: “We’re not just going to say we’re going cashless and that’s it. We plan to carry out a trial of cashless parking areas once the necessary Traffic Regulation Order has been introduced.
“There is certainly an appetite for cashless parking in Edinburgh and the public readily embrace new technology.
“We’re committed to taking into account the needs of all customers and are keen to ensure that the city remains accessible to all road users, so anything we look at will be considered in this context.”