Controversial plans for a €3.5m greenway in Cork harbour were narrowly passed by members of the county council after fears were raised that elderly walkers could be blown away “like skittles” by cyclists.
A number of councillors said they were very concerned about having a section of the greenway between Glenbrook and Rafeen shared by both cyclists and pedestrians.
Cllr Mary Rose Desmond said a mile-long section of the proposed route was already used predominantly by elderly people and, if cyclists were allowed, walkers could be blown over “like skittles”.
She said the width of the route in that particular area, known locally as “the cardiac mile,” was just three metres wide and very close to a main road. The rest of the proposed greenway is four metres wide.
Cllr Marcia D’Alton, who is a supporter of greenways, said in this particular case she shared the same fears as Cllr Desmond.
“They’re [the elderly] concerned it will be dangerous. As a consequence I can’t support this project,” she said.
Cllr Eoghan Jeffers said he and his Sinn Féin colleagues were also against the proposal because they felt the shared useage in the three-metre-wide section “was very dangerous.”
He added that anglers would also not move to dedicated spaces identified for them along the route because these areas were not good for fishing.
The Mayor of County Cork, Cllr Seamus McGrath, said he was very concerned about the proposal and wouldn’t be in favour of it in its present form.
Cllr Derry Canty said he was in favour, arguing it would be a great asset not just for locals but for all the people of Cork.
“If we don’t pass this today we could lose the entire project. The best thing to do is pass it and adapt it as time goes on,” Cllr Deirdre Forde said.
County council chief executive Tim Lucey said the continuous development of greenways around the harbour was a county council priority.
He acknowledged that there “are certain constraints in one area” but said that three-metre widths were within the guidelines.
After a lengthy debate in County Hall yesterday a vote was eventually taken on whether to proceed with the project.
There were 22 councillors in favour, 20 against, and three abstained.
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