PROVISIONS for disabled parking in and around Patrick Street have been described as ‘Dickensian’ and discriminatory.
Councillor Tim Brosnan (FF) is calling for holders of disabled parking permits to be allowed 24-hour access to the city’s main thoroughfare for set down purposes.
A situation has emerged where disabled parking bays on Academy Street have been rendered redundant during the current Patrick Street bus corridor private car ban between the hours of 3pm and 6.30pm seven days a week. Users of the disabled bays cannot exit the bays after 3pm and enter onto Patrick Street, meaning that if they need to remove their cars, they have to reverse back down one-way Academy Street to join up with traffic.
Mr Brosnan said: “I think it is unconscionable that the main street in a city is inaccessible to disabled people. They have to come to South Mall or Merchant’s Quay. They have to be allowed the right to go on to Patrick Street. It is discrimination to lock them out of Patrick Street.
“Equality for disabled people means equality of access and the matter in which the City Council has approached disabled parking is, in my view, Dickensian.
“The four parking bays were put there specifically to allow people easy access to Patrick Street and the town centre and bring them as close as possible.
“There are two parking bays outside St Peter and Paul’s Church which are poorly marked and can’t really be used either.
“People with a disabled badge should have the right to access Patrick Street, not to park, but to either drop or be collected regardless of the bus corridor,” he added.
Mr Brosnan said he plans to bring a motion before City Council to asking for disabled permit holders to be given access to the street during the car ban hours but believes national legislation may need to change.
“The bus corridor will someday be in operation 24 hours a day, that’s the long-term objective. I believe disabled people have a constitutional right to access the street and should not be forbidden by law,” he said.
“There is a problem with the national legislation on bus corridors which I believe is discriminating against disabled people who want to shop or be dropped off at Patrick Street,” he added.
Once the ban was introduced, the council introduced additional disabled parking bay spaces at Emmet Place.
Donie O’Leary of the Cork Access Group, which advocates for disability access, said he is not aware of any disabled people who hold parking permits that have been prosecuted for ignoring the Pana ban.
“We have taken this up with City Hall and we have had lengthy debates,” he said.
“We have made them aware that it is very problematic for people that use those spaces in the city centre. They should not have to reverse down Academy Street.
“Cork City Council is bound to the Barcelona Declaration. That is a state of commitment from a local authority to make the streets and environment accessible to people with disabilities,” he added.
NO DISABLED BAY ACCESS AFTER 3PM - CITY HALL RESPONSE
A SPOKESPERSON for Cork City Council said the disabled bays should not be accessed after 3pm and that spaces are available at Emmet Place 24 hours a day.
“The disabled bays on Academy Street are fully operational up to 3pm each day. There is no parking in these bays after this time so any car using the space should be gone by 3pm. The issue of access onto the bus lanes on St Patrick Street should therefore not arise,” the spokesperson said.
“As part of the pre-planning consultation process, it was agreed that additional spaces would be provided in Emmet Place to counteract the loss of the Academy Street spaces in the afternoon. The spaces on Emmet Place have been provided and are available for use 24 hours a day.”
“Cars using the spaces on Emmet Place park nose-to- kerb, allowing safe access from both sides of the vehicle for wheelchair-users, while the spaces on Academy Street can result in wheelchair-users having to exit onto the side of the traffic lane.
“The enhancement of footpath facilities along Drawbridge Street now provides alternative access for those with mobility issues/wheelchairs and buggies onto the northern end of St Patrick Street from Emmet Place and Academy Street.
“Those with blue disability badges can continue to park in any on-street car-parking space in the city free of charge within the times designated for parking. The new 15- minute setdown spaces provided as part of the scheme are also readily available for use by everybody,” they added.