DRiVERS have been reassured that there are still three more weeks until Edinburgh’s latest 20mph limits come into force, after new signs signalling the change caused confusion on the roads.
The second phase of the Capital’s 20mph limit is due to be implemented on February 28 following the scheme’s introduction to the city centre and rural west Edinburgh on July 31 last year.
New signs are already in place on a number of roads ahead of the change, alongside the current limit, leading to some complaints that they are “confusing” and “poorly laid out”.
But council chiefs today insisted details of changes had been “well publicised” and said the rollout would ultimately keep people safe.
Among those who said they had been left confused was a driver who pointed out at least one road currently has a 20mph and 30mph sign side-by-side.
He said: “I think they are poorly laid out. The discs on the lampposts showing the speeds are small and very easy to miss.
“There’s other streets where the 20s have been painted on and they are coming away already.
“When it’s random streets in certain areas it’s just confusing. I think it would have been better if they had done the whole city in one go.”
The second phase of the 20mph roll-out will see it expanding over a number of residential and shopping streets from Leith to Morningside.
Drivers caught speeding will face the threat of £100 fines and three penalty points.
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said getting the signs right was pivotal to the scheme’s success.
He said: “If the character of the road isn’t being changed in any way, that is the only message drivers will have to let them know.
“The problem is you either have a forest of signs and markings, or do something else to convey the message.
“Signage is important because some locations don’t look like a 20 mile per hour zone.”
Central Taxis driver Gareth Evans said the boundaries of the 20mph zone were not sufficiently clear and called the signs “terrible”.
He said: “When the 20mph zone came into the middle of town some people didn’t know it was 20mph and some did. People were blasting their horns at them – they were frustrated.
“You could see people itching to get on. I think it causes more accidents and more frustration.”
And Nick Cook, the Tories’ transport spokesman on the city council, said he was not surprised by the confusion.
He said: “Conservative councillors have consistently voiced concern at the council’s decision to introduce a blanket 20mph limit across the city.
“As each day goes by, the council’s botched implementation of the scheme is becoming more apparent. Many residents have voiced concerns at the confusion being caused by the placement of new signage and the general lack of clarity over where – and when – the 20mph limit actually applies.”
He added: “This sort of confusion can create a road safety risk in itself.
“If it insists on proceeding with its misguided 20mph scheme, the council must do more to ensure Edinburgh residents are made aware of where and when the limit actually applies and that signage is changed clearly and competently.”
However city council transport leader Lesley Hinds defended the scheme and said details had been publicised well in advance.
She said: “As any qualified driver will know, when they approach a change in speed limit this will be signposted, whether it’s 20, 30 or 40mph.
“We are currently in the process of implementing signs and lines ahead of the roll-out of the second phase, and once this is in force on February 28 all 20mph roads will be clearly signed, similarly to existing 20mph streets.
“The introduction of 20mph limits follows a long period of planning and public consultation, and changes have been well publicised on our website, in the media and amongst communities.
“Anyone who is unsure of the speed limit on a street should check our website, where there’s lots of information, maps and FAQs about 20mph in Edinburgh.”
The Evening News previously reported how police road checks to catch motorists ignoring the new 20mph limit in the city centre were called off after just a week.
Officers with speed guns handed out two fines and 36 formal warnings during the first week after the speed cap was introduced on July 31. However, police bosses have insisted they are “committed” to making city roads safer, adding that they would not hesitate to pursue any motorist found to be breaking the rules.
No accident statistics or data on average speeds since the change have been released but the city council says initial feedback from ongoing monitoring and research suggested high levels of awareness about the new limit.