Unique chance for Cork to change: 'People have realised that prioritising vehicles has many negative consequences'

Unique chance for Cork to change: 'People have realised that prioritising vehicles has many negative consequences'
Planter cycle path barrier. Pic: Transport and Mobility Forum.

Groups in Cork representing various sectors have come together to call on Cork City and County Councils to deliver safer streets as a matter of urgency.

The Transport and Mobility Forum (TMF) has put together a list of measures they feel are needed to ensure people’s safety as Cork emerges from Covid-19.

Almost 30 signatories have signed off on the letter where their concerns and recommendations were laid out, including Cork Chamber, Cork Cycling Campaign, UCC Green Campus and CUH.

The TMF is awaiting a response from both councils and say they have offered their expertise and support going forward.

The group has acknowledged that it’s likely the number of people using public transport could drop for a period following Covid-19, and have said better options are needed for people who can’t or don’t want to drive.

While acknowledging the challenges to personal mobility, the group also stressed that the Covid crisis created opportunities for positive change.

“During the shutdown, people have realised that prioritising vehicles and motor traffic has many negative consequences. Let us create a new normal that prioritises sustainability and quality of life,” UCC Commuter Plan Manager Stephan Koch said.

Tactical urbanism ideas. Pic: Transport and Mobility Forum.
Tactical urbanism ideas. Pic: Transport and Mobility Forum.

Denise Cahill, Healthy Cities Coordinator, Cork City said: “This is a unique opportunity for us to promote health as we reshape movement patterns in Cork City. It is well established that rising levels of physical inactivity contribute to serious health problems. Encouraging active travel is a promising way to meet this challenge.

“Modern Healthy European cities have observed reduced car traffic with more people (including children) cycling and walking during the COVID-19 pandemic. Walkable environments with footpaths and cycle lanes are essential for safe movement of everyone, especially those who are more vulnerable and less mobile; getting to shops and supermarkets, offices and workplaces without unnecessary exposure to other people,” she added.

The letter acknowledges the councils’ efforts so far but stated that much more is needed.

Some of the measures called for include the allocation of more street space for pedestrians, especially to allow for social distancing, while they also called for the enforcement of a strict no-parking approach on pavements and cycle lanes.

The group has called for pop-up cycle lanes, and favour a ‘Tactical Urbanism’ approach of temporary, low-cost measures such as planters, greenery and paint instead of ‘engineering solutions’ such as cones, yellow lines and road signs for segregation.

Park and Ride, as well as Park and Stride options, should be explored along busy routes according to TMF, while they say that measures to reduce vehicular speeds in the city centre, as well as town centres across the county should be looked at.

Groups who wish to get on board and sign the letter can do so by visiting transportandmobilityforum.com

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