Shoppers abandon city centre - City must find an answer or die

IT is not so long ago that a milestone was passed in the rural/urban divide. In the last decade, for the first time, more people lived in cities than outside them. 

Ironically, that has brought huge challenges, and cities designed in another time are struggling to sustain a vibrant heart.

Limited access for private motorists and parking sometimes combine to make suburban shopping centres far more attractive to time-scarce shoppers than crowded city centres where expensive parking charges are the norm.

Like many other cities, Cork is caught in this boa constrictor’s grip. The situation is exacerbated by essential roadworks but it is made far worse than it need be by escalating parking charges. The impact on business has been significant and, in some cases, almost unsustainable.

Cork is not the only city facing this dilemma, like many others, parts of it become ghost towns once shops and offices close. Solutions are not easily found.

Many European cities are beginning to exclude private cars but before that can be considered, huge work needs to be done to realise the potential of public transport. Cultural change is needed too.

City centres cannot cope with today’s level of car traffic but they need the motorists’ business to stay alive.

If we want the heart of our cities to thrive, to be attractive and inviting places, then we must quickly find a solution, one that recognises the real concerns of residents and businesses.

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