Portoloos for the long queue of people waiting to pay their respects to the Queen in Edinburgh have been called “an accident waiting to happen” after several appeared along a major cycle route.
There are fears the placement of temporary toilets in the Meadows, where mourners are standing in line and moving slowly towards St Giles’ Cathedral – where Queen Elizabeth II is lying in rest – is putting cyclists and pedestrians at increased risk of collision.
Local cycling campaign Spokes warned that people using the toilets set up on North Meadow Walk could be hit by passing cyclists, while cyclists are themselves also at risk of crashing into toilet doors opening suddenly as some open directly out onto the path, which forms part of the National Cycle Route 75.
Furthermore, half of the bike lane has been completely blocked off along one stretch of the Walk where around 30 portaloos have been sited.
Chris Oliver, spokesperson for Spokes Lothian Cycle Campaign, took a ride through the Meadows this morning and said the path should be closed “or an accident will certainly occur”.
He said: “The toilet door placement is potentially very dangerous.
“There doesn’t appear to be much planning. I think they needed to go on a hard surface quickly.
“A large tent has been placed nearby on the grass on quite soft mud. I expect the grass will rapidly deteriorate especially if there is any rain.”
Mr Oliver, a retired surgeon, added: “I understand why they’ve done that, it’s so they’ve got a hard surface to get into the loo.
“They’ll be gone in a couple of days but there will be a lot of people trampling over the Meadows, there will be mud everywhere, it will be a bit of a quagmire.”
He pointed out that risk of an accident will be heightened after it gets dark and called for temporary closure of the path and a diversion to be put in place.
“There’s nothing worse than coming out the loo and getting whacked by a bicycle,” he added.
Those hoping to pay their respects following the Queen’s death last week are required to collect wristbands from George Square and then stand in a 1.5 mile-long queue to the Royal Mile.
Thousands are expected to line up overnight to file past the late monarch’s coffin, before it is flown to London on Tuesday.
Responding to concerns regarding the placement of portaloos in the Meadows, Edinburgh City Council said arrangements for the queue to St Giles have been “entirely coordinated by Scottish Government”.
Edinburgh University PhD student Thomas Clarke also cycled past the toilets this morning and posted a picture on Twitter, writing: “Some poor cyclist is 100% getting hit by a portaloo door today.”
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Thomas added: “My concern is that somebody opens the door and hits a cyclist but also that a cyclist might hit somebody coming out of the portaloo, it’s not just that that’s dangerous for cyclists it’s dangerous for pedestrians as well.
“If a cyclist is approaching from the side where the door opens they may not see the pedestrian until quite late.”
He said no signs urging caution or diversion have been put in place.
“As far as I could tell everyone was still using the cycle lane,” Thomas explained.
“They’re still using it because the other side of the path is designated for pedestrians and so there’s people walking there and obviously you don’t want to be weaving through pedestrians, that’s just a bad idea.”
Morningside councillor Ben Parker said: “It’s good to see that the portaloos are in place on the Meadows as we expect the area will be very busy over the coming week.
“Regrettably, however, the current placement is dangerous and an accident waiting to happen. I hope that they can be moved back before there is an incident.
“I would urge all path users to be considerate of each other as the area becomes increasingly congested this week.”
The Scottish Government was approached for comment.
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