Tinkering with Cork City’s traffic network should be conducted sensitively and with caution, a business leader has warned.
Cork Business Association’s (CBA) chief executive Lawrence Owens also warned there was “a huge body of work that needs to happen within the city” before a private car ban on the city centre’s St Patrick’s Street becomes effective.
Approval by city councillors, on Monday, of plans to ban private cars from the main thoroughfare yesterday drew a mixed reaction.
A proposal within the City Centre Movement Strategy to restrict St Patrick’s Street to buses, taxis and cyclists only from 3pm to 6.30pm was criticised by the CBA, which says not enough has been done to improve the public transport that serves the city prior to restricting private cars from the city centre.
Mr Owens cited the 2010 Cork Area Transit System report, which suggested the introduction of a bus rapid transit corridor for Cork, as an example of previous proposals for the city that have fallen by the wayside.
“Cork has suffered a major deficit, as Ireland’s second city, for its transport network,” he said. “We broadly support the initiative of the movement strategy but we think it is rather a pity that these measures aren’t put in place first before we move into making these changes within the city.
“There’s a huge body of work that needs to happen within the city to make this private car ban on Patrick’s St effective. If it is to be introduced we would strenuously say that it should be assessed and if it doesn’t work it should be rescinded.
“Stopping private transport going through the main shopping street in our city, the principle retail commercial part of Cork City, it’s a big infrastructure to tinker with. It should be done sensitively and with caution.
“It seems very much devised to bring traffic through the city. Our objective is to bring traffic into the city to help business, to bring people into shop and enjoy the experience of what Cork City has to offer.
“The city street should be a place, not a link to somewhere else,” Mr Owens said.
However, Oliver Moran, the Green Party representative in Cork North Central welcomed the plans.
“The car-free movement is based on the idea of returning to a city centre that prioritises the free movement of people, rather than the free movement of cars,” he said.
“That doesn’t mean banning cars altogether. But it does mean being more orderly in how and where cars are allowed. A shopping centre wouldn’t allow cars to disrupt people wandering between shops and businesses, for example. Cars park outside. People shop inside and are free to wander between businesses. Why would a city’s shopping centre be any different?” he said.
The Middle Parish Residents Association has presented councillors with a letter outlining their concerns over the proposals.
“If such a proposal was suggested in any of the city suburbs it would cause an outcry and we feel that no one in the city council would even put forward such a suggestion,” it read.
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