A councillor has expressed his “astonishment” at the “crazy” decision to allow a hot dog stand to set up next to a busy cycle path, despite concerns about the potential “conflict” between cyclists and pedestrians.
Chas Booth, Green councillor for Leith, has criticised fellow councillors on the licensing sub-committee for failing to support recommendations that a request to set up the stand next to the cycle path on Middle Meadows Walk be rejected.
He said: “It was recommended that the proposal be rejected because the positioning of the stand could lead to conflict between cyclists and potential customers walking across the cycle path.
“We were provided with statistics saying that roughly 330 cyclists use that lane every hour, while the stand is expecting at least 40 customers an hour.
“Given that Middle Meadows Walk is also on a reasonably steep hill, that could add up to a lot of high-speed collisions.
“I said we should reject the proposal in line with the recommendation and I find it frankly astonishing that none of my fellow councillors agreed. As committee members, we should be listening to the recommendations made by officers. It was a crazy decision.”
Council papers show that the proposer of the stand had argued the risk of collisions on the cycle path would be negated by the positioning of the stand and the quick turnover of business.
However, a response from Stuart Harding, a performance manager with the council, stated: “Unfortunately, I will not be withdrawing my objection to locating the unit on the cycle way side of the walk.
“I still consider that members of the public who wish to avail themselves of goods from a unit placed on the cycle way side of Middle Meadow Walk would be putting themselves at risk of injury and harm from moving cycles.”
Cycling campaigners also warned the council to use caution to avoid undermining the “safe working” of the path. Ian Maxwell, a member of campaign group Spokes, said: “The busy shared path on Middle Meadow Walk works well at present, despite all the gloomy predictions when Spokes first suggested it nearly 30 years ago.
“The council needs to be very careful that extra facilities in the Meadows don’t undermine the safe working of this path, at a time when the feeder links along North Meadow Walk are due to be improved.”
Kim Harding, chairman of the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling, echoed this statement.
He said: “Many people use Middle Meadow Walk without incident and I wouldn’t like to see anything introduced that could cause conflict.
“I wouldn’t think it would be a good idea to site a stand somewhere that would encourage pedestrians to cross the cycle path.”
However, Bill Henderson, SNP councillor for Pentland Hills, who was also on the licensing sub-committee, said they did not feel the stand would cause any problems.
He said: “Committees do sometimes reject recommendations made by officers and on this occasion that was the case.
“People cross the cycle way all the time and as long as everyone pays due care and attention there should not be a problem.”
A spokesman for the law firm representing the proposers of the hot dog stand said he was “delighted” that his clients had been successful in their application.