A Cork campaigner has voiced concerns about the impact of pedestrianisation plans for Cork City for the disabled community.
Earlier this month, plans for the permanent pedestrianisation of 17 streets were announced, with work getting underway in recent days.
It came following what was described as an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the temporary pedestrianisation last year which facilitated outdoor dining and social distancing.
However, Carol Rice, who has restricted growth and has been an advocate for people living with a disability for many years, said that she was “absolutely livid” when she saw the news of the plans for the permanent pedestrianisation of the streets.
Ms Rice said she is particularly concerned about the plans for Pembroke Street and said that she believes that the parking spaces from there which have been moved under the plans, are not fully suitable.
“When I read on the paper that Pembrooke street, which is our other big street that is dedicated to disabled parkers, was going to be closed, I just felt that I had enough.
“It’s a lovely idea – they were on about ‘we want you to cycle to town’ or ‘we want you to use public transport’ - but if you’re not physically able to use any of those modes of transport, how are you meant to access your city? For me, my car is my legs as much as any other person with a disability or senior citizens, and I just felt frustrated about it,” added Ms Rice.
Ms Rice stated that some of the streets have been pedestrianised for a few years “and it has worked”, but noted the importance of suitable disabled parking remaining near Pembroke and other streets that are impacted by the plans.
She said she feels as though the disabled community is often the “forgotten community” with such plans.
“Pedestrianisation can work but they need to work with us and just not make these announcements and go ahead despite how we feel and how they affect us.
“I guess unless disability affects you, you’re not going to understand it because it’s not affecting your life,” she added.
Cork City Council said that while on street parking has had to be removed to facilitate the pedestrianisation, all disabled parking spaces that were impacted by the pedestrianisation, have been relocated in close proximity to the original spaces. This includes the spaces on Pembroke Street that were relocated to South Mall during 2020.
“The pedestrianisation of streets provides a great opportunity to create a lively & dynamic city centre, to provide a nighttime culture, and to encourage people to visit and enjoy what the city has to offer.”