Cycling groups hope 'Pana ban' will benefit all city commuters

Cycling groups hope 'Pana ban' will benefit all city commuters

A busy Patrick Street: shoppers and pedestrians enjoying the new car free times on the city's main street. The street is subject to bus priority measures from 3pm to 6.30pm daily. Picture: Damian Coleman

AS drivers get to grips with the reintroduced traffic measures on Patrick Street, Cork cyclists hope that the measures will have a knock-on effect that will benefit all commuters throughout the city.

Buses on Patrick Street during the new restrictions. Picture: Damian Coleman
Buses on Patrick Street during the new restrictions. Picture: Damian Coleman

Darren McAdam O’Connell, spokesperson for the Cork Cycling Campaign, said he can see the positive effects spreading far beyond the street itself.

“This is important because if you want a better city overall, allowing more people to get the bus instead of driving benefits everybody throughout the city,” he said.

“If people can rely on the bus and buses are more frequent, this will have a positive effect throughout the city and on out as far as Ballincollig. People will be spending less time waiting for buses, there will be more people using buses, less people in cars and the people who are in cars are less frustrated because they are not stuck in traffic. That is going to be good for cyclists too.”

The measures, which limit Patrick Street to buses, taxis, emergency vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists between 3pm and 6.30pm, were accompanied by a raft of initiatives to encourage people into the city centre.

These include a major extension to the park and ride service, with additional stops at Merchants Quay, Patrick Street, Grand Parade and South Mall, and reduced Bus Éireann fares until mid-September.

A network of free 15-minute set down parking spaces have been established around the city centre and half-price parking is one offer at Paul Street and North Main Street car parks from 1pm to 6.30pm.

A major information campaign by Cork City Council to explain the reasons for the changes and promote the benefits mean traders in the city are far more positive about the strategy than they were when it was first introduced in April.

Business owner John Grace said that, while he still had concerns about the impact on trade, he fully intended to get behind the measures and encourage his staff and others to do the same. A keen cyclist himself, he would love to see more bikes on the streets in the city. Shoppers on the street itself were less convinced about the changes. Some wanted to wait and see how it worked out but several expressed concern about the impact on businesses, on the atmosphere and on people with disabilities.

Speaking after the relaunch on Wednesday, Chief Executive Ann Doherty thanked everyone for their “support and patience” and highlighted that there was no negative impact on traffic in other parts of the city. Cork Chamber has also come out in support of the measures.

“With almost 1,000 bus movements daily Patrick Street is a key location for commuters throughout the city region,” CEO Conor Healy said. 

“While patience will be required as we become more familiar with the new measures it is important to keep in mind the bigger picture that as we move forward this will be very, very good for Cork and for Cork business.”

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