NEW parking charges are set to be introduced on Greenways across the Capital as transport chiefs move to close a bizarre loophole.
The city wants to call time on an oddity of parking enforcement that allows drivers to park on the restricted bus lanes outwith peak travel times but face charges in nearby residential streets.
Motorists who used to park for free on Greenways will now be forced to pay between £1 and £3 per hour under plans to be discussed at City Chambers on Tuesday.
Some side streets will also now become fee-paying zones under the changes. Road campaigners said most Edinburgh drivers would be unaware they could park on Greenways.
A “cashless” pilot scheme will see drivers pay to park electronically using their debit card and a mobile phone. It is thought the new charges will bring in around £150,000 a year for city coffers.
A council report claims the parking anomaly had sparked a raft of complaints about vehicles staying for longer than they are permitted and about difficulties in enforcement.
It reads: “Introducing charges will make it easier to ensure compliance with the regulations and make sure that parking opportunities are available for all motorists including disabled persons’ blue badge holders, who will continue to be able to park free of charge in these areas.”
Bus lanes and Greenways differ as the latter is delineated with red lines indicated that no stopping is allowed during peak travel hours. In bus lanes, single yellow lines indicate waiting is not allowed but vehicles may load and unload during the restricted time.
Alex Wilson, chair of the Leith Business Association, said the charges could help to boost trade by accelerating the turnover of vehicles parking along Leith Walk.
“Someone parked all day on Leith Walk means a space that could be used half a dozen times is taken up. The overriding principle is about creating footfall but until we try this we won’t know the outcome.”
Cllr Joanna Mowatt, shadow transport spokeswoman for Edinburgh Conservatives, said additional parking was the “holy grail” for the city and the new revenue stream would be welcome.
“Where there is potentially free parking, to bring that into line with parking charges is understandable but this is creating parking where I think people previously haven’t realised they could park and any knock-on affect on traffic flow will have to be carefully monitored.”
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at Institute of Advanced Motorists, said the move was a “recipe for confusion”.
He said: “I understand that they need to snuff out this anomaly but I hope they aren’t just causing more confusing.”
Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s Transport and Environment Convener, said it was “essential” to introduce parking charges on Greenways to “ensure public transport is kept moving during peak hours”.
“We’re proposing to introduce parking charges on Greenways in areas that are already within the controlled parking zones,” she said. “At the moment cars have to pay to park in side streets but outside of controlled hours they can park for a limited time for free in Greenways – which are some of the city’s main roads. We want to address this irregularity and keep our parking system consistent.”
Greenways were first introduced in 1997 to improve bus journey times during peak traffic flow.
The main Greenways routes include: Lothian Road and Tollcross; Dalry Road, Gorgie Road and Calder Road; Glasgow Road and Corstorphine Road (A8); Leith Walk and Leith Street; and Slateford Road.