The proposals for the city centre on the recovery pathway from Covid-19 are “very much to be welcomed” according to Cork Chamber.
The business organisation’s CEO Conor Healy said that every effort to provide for social distancing must be made, especially in the city centre where the volume of people is high.
“Enhancing the area for pedestrians and cyclists is a key area of that,” Mr Healy told The Echo.
“They’re the first phase of what I hope will be a broader expansion of pedestrian and cycle facilities across the city,” he added.
Asked if the plans went far enough, Mr Healy said: “It needs to be taken step by step. This is new territory to everybody. It’s easy to be critical of something of this nature, but it’s a positive first step and it shows a willingness on behalf of City Hall to look at all of the opportunities that are there.”
However, he has said that there will need to be more progress made down the line, and accessibility of the city as businesses and offices reopen will need to be examined.
He believes public transport will be “challenged” as regards capacity due to new restrictions.
“It’s certainly not the right answer that we revert back to having higher volumes of cars accessing the city because that will create significant levels of congestion and undo an awful lot of the good that has been done in recent years in terms of people moving from cars to public transport,” Mr Healy said.
He said that cycle routes to access to the city from suburbs and towns near the city must be looked at going forward, as well as enhanced pedestrian access, and would see that as a next step to this document.
Another aspect of the proposals points towards licences businesses can apply for to make outdoor seating areas available for customers on public streets.
Mr Healy said that while those licenses are already available, it’s likely that there will now be a bigger uptake in the scheme among businesses looking to expand their area size to ensure adequate social distancing.
He added that he would like to ensure the cost of such licenses wouldn’t be a burden on businesses availing of the opportunity.
“The bigger challenge is going to be where that type of activity can be located. I think it probably needs to be looked at on a street by street basis, and on a business by business bases. It is very important that we provide the opportunity for cafes, restaurants, bars and so on, to expand their facilities,” Mr Healy said.