We all know how Cork residents consider their home city as Ireland’s ‘real capital’, well now the local authority on Leeside is leading the way in showing how other cities might respond to Covid 19 restrictions.
The creation of 14 new ‘people friendly’ streets and an investment of up to €2 million in the wider city’s existing cycling infrastructure forms part of a series of transformative initiatives announced in the “Re-imagining Cork City” programme.
The measures are Cork City Council’s response to social distancing requirements resulting from Covid-19 but also represent an acceleration of the City Council’s vision for a city of sustainable urban growth.
In addition to significant pedestrianisation in the city centre, the programme includes: the €1.5 million repair of 6 kilometres of existing cycle lanes, the installation of bollards on 4 kilometres of key cycling routes, 4.1 kilometres of new cycle lanes at Centre Park and Monahan Roads, Terence MacSwiney Quay, Horgan’s Quay and Victoria Road and South Mall and the construction of 43 bike racks which can accommodate approximately 500 bikes. The programme is supported by the National Transport Authority (NTA).
Cork City Council Chief Executive, Ann Doherty said: “Economic and social recovery against the backdrop of Covid-19 presents unprecedented challenges for communities and businesses in Cork. We need a shift in perspectives, a “re-imagining” of Cork and high levels of partnership and collaboration if we are to mitigate the impact of the pandemic”.
“ The programme published today, and achieved with the support of city councillors, is the first step towards a more comprehensive re-drawing of the city as we know it with intensified focus on more sustainable transport and a reduction in through–traffic,” she added.
Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Joe Kavanagh said: “ An immediate sense of the re-imagined city can be seen in the expanded city centre pedestrianisation achieved by Cork City Council and local businesses. The changes mean that up to 1,000 residents and visitors to the city can eat and drink alfresco – thereby supporting social distancing and local business”.
Hotels, restaurants, bars, wine bars, cafes and take-away restaurants were also granted free street furniture licences so that businesses, hard pressed for space, could expand out on to the 1.3 kilometres of temporarily pedestrianised streets, creating a more pleasant, safer and greener city.
Cork City Council Chief Executive Ann Doherty added: “The creation of a safer and more pleasant environment is important to support the re-opening of the city but we need to engage further with the process of change. The City Council has commenced a consultation process for the preparation of the City Development Plan. As never before, the Plan offers a unique opportunity to re-imagine and re-position the City. I would encourage everyone to help shape a new policy framework that can invigorate local communities and businesses, originate creative, life-enhancing strategies and be a key positive influence on FDI and indigenous investment decisions.”
“We have just launched a survey that will inform the consultation process . We have also prepared an issues paper ‘Our City – Our Future’ to stimulate debate on strategic issues and this can be accessed at www.corkcitydevelopmentplan.ie. Submissions on the proposed development plan can be made at our consultation portal: https://consult.corkcity.ie/”.
Re-imagining Cork at a glance
- 1.3 kilometres of pedestrianised city centre streets;
- 4.1 kilometres of new cycle lanes at Centre Park Road and Monahan Road, Terence MacSwiney Quay, Horgans Quay and Victoria Road and South Mall;
- Al-fresco dining provision for 1000 people on city streets;
- €1.5 million resurfacing of nearly 6 kilometres of existing cycling lanes and bus lanes in the city centre, Ballincollig, Harbour View, Kinsale Road, Mahon Link, Glasheen and Bandon Road.
- Fitting of 4 kilometres of safety bollards on strategic parts of the most popular cycle lanes in the city including Alfred Street, South Main Street, Washington Street, Mahon Link, Western Road, Rossa Avenue and in Ballincollig;
- Introduction of 43 new cycling racks city wide to accommodate at least 500 bikes;
PEOPLE FRIENDLY STREETS
Following consultation with residents and traders, Princes Street, Tuckey Street, Pembroke Street, Caroline Street, Little Anne Street, Little Cross Street and Harley Street are pedestrianised while Emmet Place and Paul Street are partially pedestrianised with local access allowed. Public consultation on the remainder will be completed shortly.
Last month, the 1.3 kilometre popular Marina riverside amenity in Blackrock was also pedestrianised.
New planting is being added to the ‘people friendly’ city centre streets and our cultural institutions are also ‘expanding on to the streets’ with cultural performances and ‘play days’ on city streets and the Marina so visitors to the city centre can enjoy a safe and relaxed ‘summer in the city’ experience.
It is expected that consultation will begin shortly to extend Oliver Plunkett Street’s pedestrianisation after 5pm to possibly late night in line with neighbouring streets.
Up to 4.1 kilometres of new cycle lanes are to be developed on South Mall, Horgan’s Quay, Terence MacSwiney Quay, Centre Park Road, Monahan Road and Victoria Road. Works are due to start this month on Centre Park Road and Monahan Road with the remainder beginning in October and November.
Another €1.5 million of resurfacing and relining is to begin on 6 kilometres existing cycle lanes in October and new cycling protection will be installed on some of the city’s most popular cycle lanes next month so that cycling remains an attractive transport option post-lockdown. Resurfacing will take place in the city centre, Gillabbey St, Proby’s Quay, Rossa Ave, Ballincollig, Kinsale Road, Mahon Link and Douglas.
Up to 4 kilometres of bollards will be installed at Alfred Street, South Main Street, Washington Street, near UCC gates on Washington Road, Rossa Avenue, in Mahon Point, Ballincollig, Mulgrave Street.
Furthermore, more than 43 new bicycle racks are being installed across the city with 10 going shortly to a new indoor space at North Main Street Shopping Centre, another two sponsored racks being put in place at Ballincollig Regional Park and Lapps Quay this month, 11 more going to various locations in the city centre in the coming weeks and approximately another 20 being installed in the final quarter of the year. These racks will enable the safe parking of approximately 500 bikes.
The National Transport Authority has also agreed that the Coke Zero public bike scheme will be expanded to locations at County Hall, Mardyke Walk, Gaol Walk, Brookfield, Dennehy’s Cross, Cork University Hospital, CIT, Model Farm Road, Kenley, Connaught Avenue and Albert Quay/Victoria Road. An audit of the condition of existing docking stations will also take place.
A two-hour free parking promotion will a continue at Paul Street and North Main Street car parks until the end of August to encourage people to support local business and to visit the tourist and cultural attractions which re-opened in July.
CLEAN AND SAFE STREETS
The city and suburbs have also undergone a thorough deep clean over the summer. Specialist contractors cleaned high footfall areas of the city centre from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m. – using high-powered washing systems with high and low pressure steam cleaning functions. Street furniture and street bins were also cleaned.
Cork City Council, in particular the Local Enterprise Office, has been working with business and with business representative organisations to support businesses reopening. In partnership with the Cork Business Association, the corkcityshopping.com website was established to bolster local business’ online presence. Nearly 2,000 applications have been approved for restart grants and over 650 businesses availed of the Business Continuity Voucher Scheme which is now closed. A series of Covid-19 specific webinars, online training sessions and meet ups were held by Cork City LEO, in conjunction with stakeholders. Over 1,000 attended webinars and over 150 businesses have availed of one-to-one mentoring services.
Up the rebels!