In 'Cork eyes pedestrian plan' (30/04/20), we were warned by Cllr Des Cahill (FG) that we cannot put one lobby group's interests ahead of another as lockdown restrictions are lifted. It was interesting that he targeted cyclists!
I don't cycle but I support a greater expansion of dedicated cycling facilities within Cork City, alongside improved pedestrian access, linked to intelligent public transport services. What is lacking is a really progressive approach to massively reducing the level of private vehicle usage in/around the central Island which would enhance the living and working environment and position Cork City centre as one of the most attractive shopping, eating and entertainment city centres in Europe.
Concurrent with the development of the new Convention Centre located on the Island we should be moving strongly now to change how traffic/people flow around the island. In the short-term, Oliver Plunkett Street and its feeder side streets should be permanently pedestrianised (That includes excluding cyclists!) with goods vehicle access at limited prescribed times - like Grafton St, one of the busiest shopping streets in the world.
In the medium-term whole sections of the area should have some form of roof/canopy (not necessarily completely closed) installed which will encourage consistent activity irrespective of the weather and drive more visitor traffic. Can you imagine dining al fresco along the street even in the depths of winter.
Commercial premises would see their values increased as foot traffic would increase and yes, some businesses would need to relocate. The area is well served by car parks and is linked to the Huguenot Quarter and North Main St across St Patrick's St, to the student area and Washington Street quarter across Grand Parade and the MacCurtain Street Quarter via the Mary Elmes bridge.
With extensive developments moving down the quays now and for the next decade we could ensure that our city centre is a vibrant hub offering almost 24/7 entertainment, activities, shopping, dining, etc.
Instead of bullying groups who have valid questions would it not be better to look beyond recovery and in tandem with these necessary actions develop a vision for Cork City that will create a destination that will position Cork City as one of the most attractive cities in Europe?
Maurice J Bergin