JUST 20 tickets have been dished out to drivers for speeding in the Capital’s new 20mph zones, it has been revealed.
The figures emerged as final preparations are made to convert a further 120 miles of road to the new limit ahead of the controversial scheme’s third phase, due to be rolled out in the west of the city on August 16.
The latest stage will see roads in Clermiston, Clovenstone, South Gyle and Silverknowes come under 20mph. Once fully implemented, it will cover 80 per cent of the city’s roads.
However opposition politicians said today the low number of fines raised questions over whether the initiative was an effective use of taxpayers’ money.
Today’s figures show a total of 495 drivers have been issued with warnings since the £2.2 million scheme got under way a year ago, while five reports have been made to the procurator fiscal over some of the most serious cases. Of the 20 tickets issued, three-quarters were dished out in the scheme’s first phase, which got under way on July 31 last year and was followed by the start of phase two on February 28.
Nick Cook, the Tories’ transport spokesman on the council, said: “While these figures do not in themselves provide information on compliance levels, they do show that the police are now expending time on enforcement of the council-driven decision to implement the divisive and confusing 20mph scheme.
“However, while Edinburgh council blindly proceeds with the scheme without regard for the experience of other UK local authorities, Department for Transport analysis generally demonstrates low compliance levels and effectiveness of blanket 20mph limits.
“As such there continues to be huge questions as to whether Edinburgh’s blanket 20mph rollout is a prudent use of £2.2 million of taxpayers money, which could have been targeted more intelligently on more effective road safety measures.”
The council says that as well as improving road safety, the scheme is also aimed at encouraging more people to get from A to B on two wheels or by foot.
As with the rest of the rollout, a network of roads in the phase three area will be kept at 30mph and 40mph, including Calder Road, Maybury Road, Queensferry Road and Lanark Road.
Ian Maxwell, of cycling campaign group Spokes, said he felt 20 tickets was a “reasonable” number when it came to enforcing the scheme.
He said: “The fact there’s some enforcement in place is probably quite enough. It’s not that you want to wait at the end of every street to pounce on people because that would be disproportional and heavy-handed. But we do need to have a level of enforcement that’s visible.”
Mr Maxwell said the scheme did seem to be having a positive impact by making the streets a more attractive option for cyclists and pedestrians.
He added: “We are still strongly in favour of it because we feel it’s a constructive way of changing traffic behaviour.”
Phase three will be made up of two areas, with zone four covering the north-west and zone five the west.
Lesley Macinnes, the council’s new transport and environment convener, said the new limit was a “no brainer” when it came to keeping people safe, adding enforcement of the scheme was not simply about handing out tickets.
She said: “The police will continue to enforce and monitor 20mph limits, but this is also about awareness-raising amongst the public.
“Understandably the changes will take some getting used to but, with most people still in favour of the rollout, we’re confident that drivers will stick to the limit to create a safer, more relaxed environment for everyone.”
Youngsters at Flora Stevenson Primary School are among those who have got behind the scheme, with recently retired headteacher Irene Brennan saying it would be of “huge benefit” to her former pupils.
She added: “Children are more badly hurt if they get hit by a car travelling at 30 than a car travelling at 20 so I think it’s really important in the city that we do slow down and look after the children.”
Superintendent Lesley Clark, of Police Scotland, added: “Road safety is a priority for police in Edinburgh and we are committed to carrying out checks when new zones are introduced with warnings and fixed penalty tickets given as appropriate.
“With the existing zones having been in place for some months, awareness is growing. However with a significant number of visitors to the city every day and the 20mph area also expanding, we will continue to work with the City of Edinburgh Council to raise that awareness further.”