'Overwhelming' support for permanent car ban at Cork's Marina

The banks of the River Lee from the entrance of Páirc Uí Chaoimh to the junction with Church Avenue in Blackrock have been pedestrianised in a trial since the summer.
'Overwhelming' support for permanent car ban at Cork's Marina

Barry and Rhona Guiney, Blackrock, Cork, and Ollie enjoying a walk at the Marina in Cork which was open to pedestrians and cyclists from the entrance to Páirc Uí Chaoimh to the junction with Church Avenue this year. Picture: Denis Minihane

Permanently pedestrianising one of Cork's best-loved amenities has been cemented by "overwhelming public support" and signals a sea change in the urge people have for increased green and livable city areas.

That is according to independent Cork city councillor, Kieran McCarthy, after 224 submissions in favour of permanently removing cars from the Marina vastly outnumbered the 21 who objected, after a public consultation process.

The Marina has been transformed in recent months, since a trial began in the summer to keep cars out along the banks of the River Lee from the entrance of Páirc Uí Chaoimh to the junction with Church Avenue in Blackrock.

Cyclists, families, dog walkers and runners have flocked in their thousands to the Marina ever since, as Cork people craved a space to exercise as Covid-19 restrictions took hold.

Save for handfuls of local residents needing to use the road, traffic levels have virtually disappeared, and movement is unfettered.

The use of the Marina as a public amenity has only strengthened in recent weeks with the opening of a new stretch of greenway at the city end of the amenity, near the local rowing club. 

Some 200 car spaces, including a number of disabled bays, have coincided with Cork City Council improving cycle lane markings and bollards on Centre Park Road.

The public consultation result mean all eyes will be on next month's city council meeting to see if full pedestrianisation will be ratified by local representatives.

Mr McCarthy said the people had spoken loud and clear.

"Through opening it to public consultation, the people had their voices heard, and there is overwhelming public support for it," the councillor said.

"The area is rapidly returning to its heyday, with more and more people realising the asset they have in their locality. 

"It is the first time in 100 years that we have and are seeing real investment going into the Marina. It had become a dumping ground for cars, and has been dilapidated in appearance. 

"What we are now seeing is people flocking to it and recognising that it is a city destination to rival other landmarks. We have to keep that momentum," he said.

Mr McCarthy said the horrors of the pandemic had allowed people to focus on what is important to their quality of living.

"Covid-19 brought people closer to their local areas, and I don't believe there is any going back. It has been a revolution and evolution of open, green spaces. It has sped up the bigger picture for Cork," he said.

It comes as the city's counterpart, Cork County Council, announced plans to decorate hundreds of kilometres of designated Slí na Croí walkways with colours representing Cork and Christmas. 

Teams from Cork County Council, Tidy Towns Committees and local community volunteers will decorate local walkways with red and white ribbons, along with festive and uplifting messages along the paths and walkways throughout the county. 

Thousands of metres of red and white ribbon have been distributed to communities across Cork.

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