Gardaí say they are adopting a “very balanced approach” to enforcement of the controversial new time-regulated bus lanes on Cork’s St Patrick’s Street.
Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin said motorists caught driving in the bus lanes during the 3pm-6.30pm ban on private cars are being dealt with by way of caution in the first instance but he warned that persistent offenders will face fines.
“We are working closely with Cork City Council to address the various problems,” he said.
He was responding to questions from Senator Jerry Buttimer at a meeting of the Cork City Joint Policing Committee this week.
After a week of intense public debate over the impact of the afternoon car ban, reintroduced on August 9, Mr Buttimer asked gardaí to comment on the policing issues which have arisen from this controversial element of the City Centre Movement Strategy (CCMS).
Chief Supt McPolin said he does not have statistics for how many motorists have been fined for driving in the bus lanes since Aug 9, but said gardaí are monitoring the situation and are adopting a balanced approach to enforcement.
Mr Buttimer welcomed the comments: “It’s good to see that it’s not just a garda standing on the street with a notebook. It demonstrates that the city is open for business."
JPC chairman, Cllr Chris O’Leary, said the CORE partnership group met last Friday to discuss a range of strategic initiatives for the next 12-months.
Council chief executive, Ann Doherty, said while the CCMS has “exercised and energised lots of opinion” in recent weeks, it is important to remind people why it’s happening.
She said the CCMS is designed to make the city a better place ahead of the delivery of thousands of city centre-based jobs at various large office building projects: “That's why we are doing it. And it’s important to remember that two-thirds of the traffic passing through St Patrick’s St never had a city destination in the first place. It's about taking that unnecessary traffic out." Meanwhile, the Council’s new free late-night parking initiative will kick in at the city’s public multi-storey car parks tomorrow night.
Parking will be free in Paul St and North Main St car parks after 5pm every Thursday, Friday and Saturday until Jan 12.
Several traders have blamed the afternoon car ban for a reduction in trade. But others say trade is up. In a statement to the Irish Examiner at the weekend, Opera Lane said according to many of its traders, the introduction of the new traffic regulations and bus priority lanes has not affected sales overall: “In fact, several stores traded ahead of the same period 2017 in September and October."