Madiera Drive – the lower esplanade that forms the easterly arm of Brighton seafront – hosted the first big event of the year yesterday. The Half Marathon for Sussex Beacon took place in glorious sunshine. With the promise of spring however, the perennial portable toilet parade arrived.
Great for the runners after a grim weather week, the sun also drew out crowds of supporters, alongside regular Sunday strollers. However, I forgot, again. To make it to the marina (a regular weekend trip) I found myself negotiating crowds with my bike, trying not to clobber small children or wilting runners with pedals or pannier. The throngs are part of living in a vibrant and visited city, however other regular visitors – the ranks of plastic toilets – are not so welcome.
Negotiating all manner of pavement user – from distracted children and dogs to extended families strung out across the prom and rogue skateboarders – is all part of busy weekend fun. However, is the narrowing of the walkway by a huge herd of toilets really necessary? For a start, they block the view. On our first sunny day for what seems like weeks, the sparkly sea can only be peaked at through gaps between grey plastic boxes extending into the distance. No wonder Steve Ovett is running in the opposite direction. They were slightly pongy too.
Over seven and a half thousand runners, spectators and strollers all need somewhere to ‘go’ – but can’t we have more real toilets? Almost every other weekend there is a large event on Madiera Drive – and the associated infrastructure has to be imported. While doubtless extra loos will always need to be brought in for major events, it must, in the long run, be more resource efficient (in terms of transport, time and hire costs) to have more proper toilets in place? However welcome the sight of facilities might be at the end of extreme exertion, surely it would be more inspiring to conclude a great endeavour with a nice view of the sea, and a proper porcelain pot?