These pavements were made for walking, ‘cos that’s just what we do - Susan Morrison

Street dining can be great if the weather's good, as long as we can walk the pavementsStreet dining can be great if the weather's good, as long as we can walk the pavements
Street dining can be great if the weather's good, as long as we can walk the pavements
Edinburgh’s pavements have long had the smack of presbyterian utilitarianism about them.

Not for us the sweeping avenues of Paris or Berlin, those capacious boulevards, roomy enough to accommodate cafes with outdoor tables covered in cheery red and white tablecloths, seducing the weary flaneur to rest over a coffee while nibbling a Madeleine.

An excellent way to watch the world go by or at least a convoy of tractors tearing up the Champs de Elysee. They were designed to be strolled along by those with time and the inclination for that sort of thing.

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However, the recent Great Unpleasantness gave the carnaptious Scots a taste for outdoor mastication.

The first hint of a clear sky and out come those tables and folding chairs. And the fleecy blankets, because that sun might be shining but the wind is cutting,

The trouble is, our pavements were made for walking, ‘cos that’s just what we do. We moved from house to shop to work. The only folk who took their tea outside were workies and hillwalkers with tartan flasks.

Indoors was the way to take coffee and cake, and none of yer teeny wee one-bite-and-it’s-gone pastries for us.

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If you were seated in Miss Cranstons or the hallowed halls of Jenners, it was hefty Battenburg or scones big enough to need planning permission.

Our pavements do a serious job and roadside snacking isn’t an essential requirement for that position. We didn’t build in space for those dinky tables and chairs.

Take Leith Walk. It’s got a lot to do, for a simple pavement. In addition to the people striding about, it's also got a cycleway cutting down it, which I do not begrudge.

I am a huge fan of anything that gets more people on bikes and out of cars, wherever possible, but that cycleway looks a bit bonkers.

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So bonkers, in fact, that rogue delivery riders with big insulated backpacks don’t seem to want to use it, and hurtle along the pedestrian part instead.

Of course, they have their work cut out, because in addition to the perambulating public, they have to avoid the wild-eyed electric scooter people, the high-speed skateboarders and the ski-mask sporting guys on tiny little kids bikes.

They’re probably also doing deliveries, but telling you now, it ain’t pizza. And that isn’t even factoring in the wheelchairs and the buggies.

Raeburn Place is no better. There’s even less space and an absolutely staggering number of coffee shops.

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A wander about last weekend turned into a sort of weaving waltz as we dodged around tables, chairs and bearded chaps in chinos sipping oat milk skinny cappuccinos.

The rogue cyclists of Stockbridge tend more to the gals in floaty dresses, who in the absence of a cycleway default to that narrowing pavement.

My favourite was the young lady on a bicycle with a small dog on a leash running alongside, like a 21st century re-figuring of the Boadicea, she of the scythe-wheeled chariot. If she didn’t hit you, the dog could trip you.

Coffee shops took a hammering during lockdown and tragically we see closures just about every day of well-loved favourites.

Generally speaking, anything that gets the punters in and the tills ringing is okay by me, but can we just make sure we can walk on by safely?

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