Cork Chamber have backed the prioritisation of the Marina for cycling and walking on a permanent basis and the resolution of the pedestrian access issues to Tramore Valley Park.
They have also said that the introduction of a ban on HGVs in the city centre in the coming years would be hugely beneficial.
The business organisation has called for more car-free and green spaces in Cork, and say they believe it timely to initiate a review of a shared public realm and the spaces allocated to pedestrians and cyclists.
Cork Chamber have said that where possible the urban and community recreation spaces should be adapted to meet these needs going forward.
Thomas McHugh, Director of Public Affairs with Cork Chamber said that there are some “quick wins” to be had - and said the permanent pedestrianisation of the Marina would be “ideal re-designation of existing space”.
“While enforcement of re-designations can persist as a challenge, the use of a barrier system allowing limited access for emergency services and residents could be beneficial in seeing this change of use observed,” he said.
He went on to say that the emergency enhancement of pedestrian access to Tramore Valley Park would prove invaluable, both during the pandemic and beyond.
“While I acknowledge there are constraints, the resolution of the pedestrian access issues should be advanced as quickly as possible to facilitate increased green space access for city centre residents,” Mr McHugh said.
In the long term, Mr McHugh said a case could be made for slower vehicle speeds in certain city centre areas, while an emphasis on planting and greenery would be of immediate benefit to residents.
Meanwhile, he said that introducing a ban on HGVs in the city centre “would be hugely beneficial, making journeys and communities safer, quieter, and less polluted.” He said the ban could be facilitated through National Development Plan investment in the North Link road network.
In addition, he said an investigation into “the potential for quietway cycling routes, using laneways and backstreets that give cyclists priority, as have been developed in the UK, US and Netherlands” could be significant in promoting a change in mode of transport towards bicycles.
Alongside projects like the Lee to Sea Greenway Mr McHugh said that prioiritising cyclists in certain ways could enhance the accessibility of residential areas to amenity, education and work locations.
“The provision of amenity space is a priority for the Cork business community, identified in a previous quarterly economic trends survey to members within their top three priorities for increasing the liveability of the city, alongside housing, and public transport,” he said.
Meanwhile, during the current Covid-19 pandemic, to ensure adequate social distancing, some road space is being used by walkers and cyclists due to the reduction in vehicular traffic.
Thomas McHugh has called on the local authorities in Cork to assist in increasing certainty and safety for road users.
“To avoid the current situation where pedestrians and cyclists are obliged to enter road space to ensure sufficient distancing, which in itself is a safety issue for all road users, we are asking our local authorities here in Cork to link in with local community groups to identify these pinch points and instead allocate this road space safely,” he said.
“The availability of urban amenity space, be it green park space or car free amenity space is a necessity for city residents to enjoy their community and locality. While acknowledging the work and dedication ongoing by Cork City Council and Cork County Council to expand and accelerate the provision of these spaces, their importance for all age groups, family sizes and mobility abilities is now more important than ever, and this will likely be a lasting outcome of the pandemic crisis,” he added.