Plans for a two-way protected bike lane on Cork’s South Mall have been unveiled as talks about outdoor dining plans along two busy city streets continue.
City Hall invited submissions from the public today on the new bike lane proposed along the length of the Mall in the latest phase of its Covid-19 recovery plan which will also see fees for on-street furniture outside restaurants and cafes across the city and suburbs waived for the rest of the year.
The proposed east/west dedicated cycle lane on the southern side of the street will require adjustments to traffic lanes and will see a reduction in the number of parking spaces on that side of the street from 78 to 40.
The public consultation closes on July 7 before officials prepare a report for council.
If the scheme is approved, it is hoped to issue tenders for the work in September, with contractors on site soon afterward and the bike lane open for use by the end of the year.
It comes as restaurant owners on Princes St enter the final stages of talks with City Hall on their ambitious ‘eat-on-the street’ proposal.
Traders on MacCurtain St, an area that has undergone a remarkable culinary renaissance in recent years, are also in talks with City Hall about outdoor dining proposals for their street.
Almost a dozen food businesses on Princes St joined forces in April to unveil an ambitious plan to close the street between Oliver Plunkett St and the South Mall to vehicular traffic and convert it into a shared outdoor dining area.
David Joyce, the city council’s director of operations, said a lot of work had to be done first to agree the “bigger picture and the high-level concept” before work could start on the finer details of the specific proposal.
However, he said there has been “positive engagement and interaction” during the entire process to refine the proposal ahead of the June 29 reopening date for restaurants.
Mr Joyce also said City Hall is gearing up for an expected increase in applications for on-street furniture following confirmation that fees for placing tables and chairs outside restaurants and cafes have been waived for the rest of the year.
Any business that wants to place tables and chairs on the street or footpath outside their premises must apply to the council for a licence.
The applicant must supply a detailed dimensional drawing of the area they want licensed, showing where the furniture and other items such as barriers will be placed, as well as proof of public liability insurance.
Under the terms of the Planning Act, applicants must pay a non-refundable administration fee of €110, a €100 fee for the use of the public space, and then they must pay a licence fee of €125 for each table used in that space.
But the council has waived all of those fees in an effort to support businesses.
Mr Joyce said the council wants to work with and be supportive of restaurants and cafes but he warned that there will be limits to what can be licensed in certain areas.
He urged any restaurant or cafe owners in the city centre or suburbs with an existing street furniture licence and who are considering amending them, or those who are considering putting street furniture outside their premises for the first time, to contact City Hall to discuss the licensing requirements.
“We are gearing up for a large increase in applications ahead of June 29 and we are hoping to have the structures in place to provide a quick turn around,” he said.