More than a dozen Cork city streets will be pedestrianised and €2 million will be spent on cycle paths as part of Cork City Council's plan to reopen the city after Covid-19.
A further 1.3km of city centre streets will be pedestrianised, providing 1000 people with the opportunity for al fresco dining, while the amenity space at the Marina will be expanded.
The streets to be pedestrianised are Princes Street, Tuckey Street, Pembroke Street, Caroline Street, Little Anne Street, Little Cross Street and Harley Street. Some of these have already been pedestrianised. Emmet Place and Paul Street and going to be partially pedestrianised, with local access allowed. Oliver Plunkett Street, which is pedestrianised until 5pm, may get extended pedestrian hours, after a consultation process is completed.
There will also be planting and greening of the newly pedestrianised streets.
The city's cycle infrastructure is set for a boost with the addition of 43 new bike racks, which will be able to cater for 500 bikes and some 4.1 km of new cycle lanes will be built on Centre Park Road, Monahan Road, Terence MacSwiney Quay, Horgan's Quay, Victoria Road and South Mall. Works are due to start this month on Centre Park Road and Monahan Road, with the rest starting in October and November.
Works will start next month to fit 4km of bollards on key cycle lanes at Alfred Street, South Main Street, Washington Street, Mahon Link, Western Road, Rossa Avenue, and Ballincollig.
Repairs worth €1.5 million will also be made to 6km of lanes in the city centre, Ballincollig, Kinsale Road, Mahon Link, Glasheen and Bandon Road. These works will start in October.
There will also be two hours free parking in Paul Street and North Main Street car parks.
Cork City Council unveiled the details of its ‘Reimagining Cork City’ programme this morning.
Anne Doherty, council chief executive, said there was a real opportunity for growth and the programme is an acceleration of existing plans.
"We have always had a long term ambition to improve our walking and cycling infrastructure. What the pandemic has done is increased people's desire and support for cycling," she said.
Ms Doherty also said the council was not motivated by parking income and revenue, but there had to be a system in place.
"We have to have parking regimes in place in order to keep flow (of traffic)."
Fearghal Reidy, director of strategic and economic development, said Patrick Street may be re-examined in terms of its retail only planning law, but added that the council did not want to displace the successful restaurants on the side streets.
He also said the city centre had to become an experience, to encourage people to visit.
"Integration with community is important. Culture and place making, resilience of the city, in terms of the pandemic but also climate change and extreme weather events, has to be considered."
He also said that these plans were always on the councils' agenda.
David Joyce, director of services, operations, said some of these pedestrian measures are currently temporary and are in place until the end of August, but the Council will seek to make them permanent through a consultation and statutory process.
"We would consider (retractable) bollards as part of permanent pedestrian measures but that has to go through a statutory process."
He also said the submissions on the pedestrianisation were overwhelming positive.
"There was in excess of 60 to 70 submissions for each street, and 95% of those were positive in relation the street closures."
The City Council says overall, the plans aim to support social distancing in the city and to support traders as they adapt to a changed living and working environment during Covid-19.