Medical staff campaigning for bike lane between Cork hospitals

Medical staff campaigning for bike lane between Cork hospitals
Doctors and medics who have launched a petition for a bike lane linking Cork's major teaching hospitals pictured at the Grand Parade Cork, included are Vincent Wall, Aisling, Meachair, Brian Bird, Tim Keady, Kim O’Brien, Adrianne Wyse, Donall Croinín, Siobhan Clarke, Eileen Kelleher, John McCarthy and Kieran Crowley. Picture Dan Linehan

Medics campaigning for a protected bike lane between the main hospitals in Cork city say it could be a positive outcome of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Irish Doctors for the Environment (IDE) group is now urging City Hall to engage in a positive dialogue on the proposal after more than 1,500 people, including the president of UCC, Prof Patrick O’Shea, signed their petition calling for a protected cycle corridor between Cork University Hospital, the Bon Secours Hospital and the Mercy University Hospital.

Consultant oncologist, Brian Bird, said every hospital in Cork re-invented itself overnight to prepare for Covid-19 and to keep treating patients who couldn’t wait for chemotherapy or surgery.

“We need the same sense of urgency and delivery from Cork City Council. I’d cycle a lot more to other hospitals for meetings if I didn’t worry about ending up under the wheels of a car. Every time I cycle I’m creating space on the road for drivers who can’t cycle. Every time I cycle I’m not spreading or getting germs on the bus. A joined-up segregated cycleway would be something this beautiful city could be proud of and a truly positive outcome from this dreadful pandemic.” 

Dr Vincent Wall, an anaesthesiology trainee, said that in the last few months people have seen the value of keeping physically active: “Since we first broached the subject of the hospital cycleway, I’ve been approached by so many work colleagues saying how much they would like to cycle to work, but are too afraid to try."

“We need a city that encourages people to keep healthy, not to act as a barrier to physical activity.” 

Dr Kim O’Brien, also an anaesthesiology trainee, said people have been calling for safer roads for many years: “Now, we are delighted to see that movement gain some momentum. A protected cycle way between Cork hospitals would provide not only healthcare workers but also patients and many other cyclists, with the opportunity to commute safely in the city.” 

Dr Aisling O’Meachair, another anaesthesiology trainee, said we should continue to prioritise the health and well-being of each other: “We know that one of the main determinants of good physical and mental health is exercise so let’s not lose sight of what became so clear when faced with an imminent threat. This is a brilliant idea and one that has the potential to benefit so many who live and work in Cork city."

City Hall unveiled several bike lane proposals last week but none along this route. A spokesman for IDE said they have not identified an exact route. That's a job for road transport engineers, he said.  However, he said they have floated the concept in the hope that City Hall takes the idea and runs with it.

Some 7,500 people are employed by the hospitals along the proposed route, which passes UCC. If the route was extended to CIT, it could provide an extensive cycleway for more than 20,000 students.

Meanwhile, the pedestrianisation of Paul St and Pembroke St should be introduced this week following the pedestrianisation of Tuckey St last week.

Concerns were raised last week about ongoing parking on Tuckey St but a spokesman for City Hall said on-street parking is being removed from all three streets and enforcement is taking place.

Meanwhile, tax refund specialists at Taxback.com have called for clarification on the cycle-to-work scheme eligibility criteria as they apply to the tens of thousands of people who are now working from home.

Taxback.com CEO, Joanna Murphy, said the rules suggest that people working from home who use a bike for work-related journeys, such as trips to the post office or to collect office supplies, should be eligible to partake in the scheme but said a clear statement from Revenue would be helpful.

"People are cautious and are not sure if they want to take the chance, without overt confirmation from Revenue,” she said.

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