DRIVERS in the Capital have been issued with the first fines under the latest phase of the 20mph limit implementation.
A total of 39 warnings and fines have been dished out by police since phase two’s arrival on February 28, which saw a vast swathe of streets across Edinburgh take on the new limit.
Latest police figures show a further two motorists have also been reported for driving at what was referred to as “excessive speed”.
The controversial scheme, which is costing £2.2 million to implement, has attracted its fair share of criticism since its first phase was introduced in the city centre on July 31 last year.
However, council chiefs have said the initiative will keep people safer on the roads, as well as encouraging more people to travel around the city by bike, foot or public transport.
Neil Greig, head of policy for Scotland at the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), said the number of warnings and fines seemed quite low but said it was important drivers were not alienated from the scheme.
He said: “I think warnings are the best way to start when you have something new like this.
“You should start with warnings for the first couple of weeks so people know the police are serious about it then perhaps move on to issuing tickets.
“The council and the police have to be very careful about this because if they start issuing lots of tickets to people who feel they are driving safely they do lose support for 20mph. It’s a fine balancing act we need here between the police and the council on one side and the public support on the other side.”
Roads in the north and north-west Edinburgh will be the next to come under the new limit, with the scheme set to be fully rolled out by January 2018.
Drivers caught flouting the new limit face the threat of £100 fines and three penalty points.
Police Scotland has previously warned it will be carrying out “pro-active” checks to ensure driver stick to the 20mph limit.
Alistair McPherson, owner of training firm Edinburgh Taxi Academy, said during quieter times – for example at night – the 20mph limit could prove frustrating for passengers.
However, he added that during the day it seemed as though a lot of motorists were just trying to ignore the new limit.
He said: “I’m all for safety, I have absolutely no problem with going about schools at 20mph but I think the blanket is just ridiculous.
“Thirty-nine [warnings/fines] doesn’t seem like an awful lot. I’ve seen people going a lot faster than they should.
“At the moment I think it will take a little while before everybody gets into the way of it.”
Councillor Lesley Hinds, transport leader, said: “Police Scotland are fully supportive of the move to slower speeds on Edinburgh’s residential, shopping and city centre streets and are working closely with us to raise awareness.
“These warnings and reports are a clear sign that the 20mph limit is being enforced and that drivers must continue to keep their speeds down now that the new limits are live.”