Cork councillors vote for car ban for heart of city

Private cars could be banned from Cork City’s main street by the end of next year after contentious traffic plans were approved last night.

City councillors voted to proceed with the first two stages of the revised City Centre Movement Strategy — one of the biggest overhauls of traffic flow in the city in 50 years.

The first draft, which included proposals to ban private cars from St Patrick’s Street from 12.30pm to 6.30pm — was shot down last year amid concerns over the length of the car ban period.

However, following months of consultation, a revised plan came before councillors last night with up to 30 amendments, including a reduced St Patrick’s St car ban from 3pm to 6.30pm.

Despite concerns from traders on North Main St and from residents of the Middle Parish — one of the city’s oldest residential areas — about the impact the changes will have, councillors voted 19 for and seven against in favour of proceeding with the ban.

The revised plan includes a package of parking measures for the Middle Parish, including:

  • Extending the pay-parking regime from 6.30pm to 8.30pm;
  • Reducing the allowable parking period of pay parking from two hours to one;
  • Upgrading the Grattan St car park;
  • Improving signage to direct visitors to North Main St car park — extending the parking time in North Main St car park beyond 6.30pm, and reviewing the car park operations to accept payment for long-term parking by city workers.

Upgrades to the public realm, and local traffic calming measures are proposed, and other amendments include additional pedestrian crossings, bike lanes, and changes to certain junctions.

City officials pledged to monitor the implementation of the plans closely for six months, and to make changes if needed.

However, residents from the Middle Parish said the St Patrick’s St car ban will have an adverse effect on their community.

Residents spokesman George Patterson said it would simply redirect private cars towards Grattan St and choke their neighbourhood. “Despite the minor changes to the plan from last year, which we feel are cosmetic, they in no way alleviate our fears that the traffic will increase with a rise in noise pollution, air pollution and increasing danger to residents and pedestrians,” said Mr Patterson.

He said North Main St traders also said they have concerns that changes to traffic flow around Daunt Square would hit the flow of trade into their area.

Sinn Féin councillor Fiona Kerins said residents of Middle Parish are totally opposed to the traffic changes.

Fianna Fáil councillor Tim Brosnan said the traffic proposals were being foisted on Cork’s city officials by a quango in Dublin with money to spend, and that the proposals will choke the city with traffic. Fianna Fáil councillor Tom O’Driscoll said residents’ views should be taken on board.

However, Fianna Fáil Cllr Terry Shannon said that while residents have legitimate concerns, traffic is part of city life, and he suggested certain councillors were objecting to the strategy for electoral reasons.

“This is something that’s needed but it needs to be managed,” he said.


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