A step too far for hapless motorist

A HAPLESS motorist went a step too far to find a parking space in Cork city.

The car ended up teetering precariously over two metre-high steps outside the offices of a prominent legal firm.

The incident happened at the weekend when a Volkswagen Polo carrying up to four people went out of control at the junction of the Grand Parade and the South Mall. The driver apparently lost control on cobbles as he was driving down the mall. Eyewitnesses said the car wheels spun sending the vehicle onto the wrong side of the road.

It veered back onto the correct side of the road, skidded up on to the footpath and drove for about 30 feet before ploughing into and up the steps outside the offices of Babington, Clarke and Mooney.

The car jammed on the steps — its bonnet at the top, its boot on the footpath — with the left-hand side of the vehicle dangling over the edge.

The railings steps were completely demolished in the accident. The aftermath was captured on camera phone and the grainy images are being sent around the city by email.

Gardaí are investigating the bizarre incident, details of which emerged yesterday as city centre motorists braced themselves for a 20 cent increase in disc parking charges.

The new rate — up from €1.80 to €2 — will come into effect from Tuesday.

And on the same day, the first car-sharing initiative in the country will be launched in the city in an attempt to reduce the number of cars on the streets.

GoCar, which allows motorists to book and rent cars when they need them, will be fully operational in Cork by July.

Plans are under way to launch the service in Dublin in early 2009.

The service will be operated by Mendes GoCar Limited, specialists in sustainable transport operations, research and consultancy, based in Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary, and Cambio, a firm which operates car sharing in cities in Germany and Belgium.

The venture, backed by the city council, will see four designated on-street parking bays on Anglesea Street, Wandesford Quay, and two bays near UCC for the GoCars fleet — six Ford Fiestas, a Ford Focus and a Transit Connect van.

The vehicles can be booked using the internet or phone. Motorists then use a smartcard to unlock the vehicle before inputting a PIN number to start the engine. GoCar managing director Graham Lightfoot said the initiative will give motorists a high-quality alternative to ownership of a private car. “You can book a car for as little as one hour from €5 and just pay as you go on hours and kilometres,” he said. “There are no hidden costs, no parking fees, and no maintenance, repair or NCT costs. Insurance and motor taxes are also covered.”

The city council has signed up for three cars for use by staff during work hours.


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