29 April 2020, Wednesday
By Mary Bermingham
On Monday Green Party Councillor for Cobh, Alan O’Connor, asked Cork County Council to consider what options the council might have to allow pedestrians to more easily maintain social distancing – particularly in built-up areas.
“I’ve often had to step off the footpath, onto the road, in order to pass someone by the requisite two metres, and I’m sure others would have had the same experience,” Councillor O’Connor said. “This is a debate which is being had elsewhere in Ireland and abroad. Similar adaptations have been called for by Green Party councillors in Cork City, while Dublin City Council are beginning to act.”
Earlier in the month, the four Green Party councillors in Cork City co-signed a letter to the Executive of Cork City Council, listing a number of low-cost efforts that could be put in place in the city while citing a number of high-profile international examples of similar measures being instituted. “Milan is probably the most high-profile example in Europe of how the crisis has precipitated a reconsideration of priorities in favour of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users,” Councillor O’Connor continued.
There are a number of measures which could be considered in the County, according to Councillor O’Connor, including a reduction in the width of carriageways, the creation of one-way systems and pedestrianisation:
“I think that these actions might be low-cost, or cost-neutral, and could be put in force with cones, bollards, or planters. By reducing speed limits in built up areas to 30km/hr, for example, one would swiftly create a more hospitable and safe environment. Each town and village would have to be assessed in its own context though, of course.
“By making our towns and villages easier places to visit in confidence, we would not only create a more pleasant walking and cycling environment for exercise during the crisis, we also create the conditions for local businesses and town centres to thrive in the long term, if and when restrictions on particular commercial activities are lifted.”
In response to the questions, council staff are assessing what might be done to build community confidence in town and village centres in particular, and the general town streetscape / environment will be an aspect of that assessment.