Officials in City Hall yesterday rolled out the red carpet for traders in the city centre unveiling a suite of measures designed to encourage more shoppers and visitors into Cork ahead of the reintroduction of the ban on cars from Patrick Street on August 9.
From that day on, Cork’s main thoroughfare will only be allowed to be accessed by buses, taxis, cyclists and pedestrians between 3pm and 6.30pm each day.
The Council had already rolled out the measure in March with little fanfare however they were forced to suspend the changes within weeks due to a massive outcry from businesses over the impact the changes were having on trade.
Shop owners said the measure had the effect of closing off the street to the public and the perception amongst shoppers was that the city centre was closed for businesses. City Hall defended the move pointing out that bus travel times through the city centre had increased significantly and they announced increased parking incentives to encourage more visitors to the city centre.
However, in the face of opposition from businesses they agreed to suspend the changes and began a series of intensive meetings to ensure its reintroduction in August will be more successful.
Officials yesterday briefed traders and the media on a wide range of incentives that will come into effect when the street is given over to buses, cyclists and pedestrians on August 9.
As reported in the Evening Echo the measures include an extension of the Park and Ride bus route, new set-down areas allowing drivers to park for up to 15 minutes, a major marketing campaign promoting the city centre as a shopping destination and cheaper bus fares.
City Hall say making Patrick Street a bus priority zone in the afternoons was essential to “future proof” the city.
Lawrence Owens of the Cork Business Association said traders were briefed on the plans yesterday and they were glad that a range of measures to support the changes have been unveiled but said they would have to wait and see if the reintroduction of the changes will be a success.
The Lord Mayor, Cllr Mick Finn, said the reintroduction of priority for buses, taxis and emergency vehicles on Patrick St is designed to future-proof the city.