Cork City Council said the ‘pedestrian/cyclist guardrail’ has been installed along Bachelor’s Quay to protect pedestrians and cyclists using the recently built riverside cycle lane and pathway.
“This is considered the most economical solution to address a temporary health and safety risk,” a spokesperson said.
“The works are not yet complete. This temporary railing is to be painted in the coming weeks and this will assist in blending it into the existing environment.”
The city will spend €26,000 on the supply and installation of the temporary barrier along the entire quayside.
While officials insisted that it is a temporary measure, thehas established that the barrier will remain in place until work starts on the OPW’s flood defence works along the quay — works which propose raising the height of the quay walls and which are themselves the subject of controversy linked to the €140m Lower Lee Flood relief scheme.
It could be several years before that work starts.
The installation of the barrier began last week and prompted almost immediate criticism on social media, with some describing it as “a monstrosity” and others branding it an “ugly” intervention.
The council spokesperson said however that a form of barrier was necessary following the introduction of new traffic flows in the area as part of the City Centre Movement Strategy.
The new road layout now accommodates pedestrians and cyclists on a delineated pathway along the quay wall between North Gate Bridge and Prospect Row, near the Mercy University Hospital, where previously there was no provision for pedestrians and cyclists.
“The current quay wall height is low — the majority of it less than one-metre along this stretch of the quay,” the spokesperson said.
“The pathway will be shared for the most part, and a guardrail height of 1.4-metre minimum is required in this instance. The Lower Lee flood defence works will address the issue.
“However, in advance of the works, a guardrail is needed to protect pedestrians and cyclists.”
She said a design process was involved and this determined the look and shape of the railing.
“A 100mm diameter is a minimum diameter to withstand the forces associated with the impact of a cyclist on the top rail of the barrier,” she said.
“It is to be noted the permanent solution will form part of the permanent Lower Lee flood defence works which will also be subject to public consultation.”
City Hall also insisted that it was necessary to build a plinth against the base of the quay walls along Bachelor’s Quay, because of “ground conditions” in the area.
“An existing plinth existed as you approach the North Gate Bridge. This scheme continues the plinth along the quay wall to accommodate the guardrail,” the spokesperson said.
There was similar criticism of the council last October when safety mesh was retrofitted to railings along Union Quay and George’s Quay.
City Hall said the mesh was added to increase safety for pedestrians and to strengthen the railings which had suffered from severe corrosion.
Similar works were undertaken in 2016 along Merchant’s Quay and St Patrick’s Quay after a toddler fell into the river through a gap in the railings.