THERE have been mixed views on the closing of Patrick Street to private vehicles, with knock-on traffic effects in other parts of the city.
The city’s main street is now only open to buses, bicycles, and emergency vehicles between 3pm and 6.30pm daily, as part of the City Centre Movement Strategy.
A garda arrived at the Merchant’s Quay end of Patrick Street from 3:08pm, yesterday, to enforce the restriction. Several cars attempted to turn onto the street, despite signs on Merchant’s Quay and at the junction of Patrick Street.
This caused minor problems, with those cars having to return to traffic via Lavitt’s Quay.
A garda was also in situ beyond Fenn’s Corner, on Grand Parade, redirecting traffic onto Cornmarket Street Market, via Daunt Square.
There was some non-compliance, with drivers flouting the rules to the north of Patrick Street, by turning left onto Half Moon Street, before entering Patrick Street, via Academy Street. However, by 3.30pm the only vehicles seen on Patrick Street were taxis and buses.
Head of Cork’s Divisional Traffic Corps, Inspector Finbarr O’Sullivan, said there were some teething problems, with cars trying to get back in lane, after being redirected at Merchant’s Quay. He said it would take time for people to adjust.
He said there was no timeframe on the issuing of fines to drivers who break the rule and this would be done case by case.
“We could issue a fine as easily today as we would tomorrow. However, it’s an awareness campaign to bring it to people’s attention, because it’s new and you have tourists here, who are, maybe, seeing it for the first time,” said Inspector O’Sullivan.
“We are not going to be heavy-handed, in this situation. We are hoping people see the benefits and comply. We will review it and tweak it.
“However, you have people that are unsure of the situation. This is a big change and it will take six or seven days to make people aware of this and implement it. It’s only three and half hours a day, seven days a week, so it’s a narrow amount of time.”
Cork Business Association chief executive, Lawrence Owens, was at Merchants Quay, monitoring the restriction, and said the problems would be magnified on busier afternoons.
“It’s about making people aware. There are a lot of people who come into the city, who are not aware of this and it’s going to take time. There was a logjam, here at the top of Patrick Street, and it creates problems, as traffic swells through the city,” he said.
“We have to give everything a chance to succeed, but this is a quiet day, on a quiet week, with the schools off, and we should expect not to have problems, but we are having problems. I wonder, on a busy, wet day, what kind of problems we could have.”
He said more signage was needed to make the public fully aware, before approaching Patrick Street.
“There is one sign when you approach the junction at Merchant’s Quay — that is 50 yards back from Pana and a lot of people are missing it. There should be traffic signs back by the bus station, so you give people as much advance notice as possible. There’s one sign on the top of Patrick Street, but that’s too late, because you are already at the junction and if you’re there, you have to move somewhere else.
“The Opera House/Lavitt’s Quay is a very busy junction and this is a quiet day, and if you have issues today, you are going to mount those up by a number of percentage points, as we get into the busier times of the year,” he added.
Taxi drivers also had mixed views on the changes.
Joseph O’Donoghue said the restrictions were creating a clear run to Ballyphehane and Togher, but taxis going toward Douglas would face problems, with increased traffic on Grand Parade and South Mall.
Edward Barry said the changes were causing congestion, with drivers rerouting through Washington Street, due to cars being redirected by gardaí onto the quays, via Daunt Square — rather than being stopped at Fenn’s Quay and then being directed toward Grand Parade.