Following the EcoRIS3 project, Atlantic Cities had the mission to identify a set of Good Practices of its member cities, in the context of Covid-19, namely the initiatives carried out between 2020 and 2022. This mission also aimed to share these Good Practices with the other partners of the project and potential stakeholders.
The ‘How cities outside the partnership adapted to Covid-19’ report (Atlantic Cities, February 2022) presents the main good practices identified in recovery in a Covid context of some of Atlantic Cities’ member cities, namely the cities of Cork (Ireland), Viana do Castelo (Portugal), Lisbon (Portugal), Faro (Portugal), A Coruña (Spain), Gijón (Spain), Brest (France) and Rennes (France).
The Atlantic Cities report can be found in the ecoRIS3 website library through this link. You can also read the article about this report in the EcoRIS3 newsletter here, on the EcoRIS3 website here or on the Atlantic Cities website here.
In this context and within the scope of this article, Atlantic Cities presents in more detail the Cork City Council’s good practice, the "Re-imagining Cork City" initiative. Above all, this initiative represents an immediate response to social distancing requirements resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic but also represents an acceleration of the implementation of the city’ longer-term strategic and sustainable plans and policies.
In addition to significant pedestrianisation in the city centre on 17 streets, the main “Reimagination” interventions undertaken since 2020 were:
- New bike parking facilities - 50 locations
- Extended Street Furniture Licenses
- Enhanced cycling infrastructure
- Moss walls (with sensors/IoT) to improve air quality
- Urban parklets – new community interaction spaces
- “Greening” the City – attractive spaces to visit
- Temporary footpath extensions to facilitate reimagination
- City Centre branding initiative – friendly & welcoming signage
Image: Parklet on South Mall, Cork City (Source: Cork City Council)
It is important to highlight that these “Reimagination” interventions took into account the following key principles:
- Safety: must meet minimum standards and allow social distancing
- Accessibility: universal design for all
- Functional Requirements: goods deliveries etc.
- Amenity: safe, welcoming and comfortable environment
- Rapid & Agile Action: tactical urbanism
- Phased Approach: ensure quick wins
- Consultation: engagement with communities and businesses through the web portal - consult.corkcity.ie
The pedestrianisation of streets provided a great opportunity to create a lively & dynamic city centre, to enhance the night-time economy and culture, to enhance air quality, and to encourage people to visit and enjoy what the city has to offer. It is also worth noting that, various business and social supports were put in place, business supports, funded by National Government & Local Authority sources, parking incentives, playful paradigm and on-street family activities and Community Response Forum supported by dedicated area based multi-agency teams.
Image: Pedestrianised Streets in Cork City (Source: Cork City Council)
Cork City Council is committed to continuing to support the local economy, businesses, residents and visitors to Cork City onward into the post-pandemic future. The permanent pedestrianisation of City centre streets along with the other measures undertaken have accelerated the delivery of the city’s long-term vision for creating sustainable urban growth. All of these works undertaken by Cork City Council are aimed at making the city a safe, inclusive and pleasant place for residents, shoppers & visitors and supporting local businesses. Encouraging people to live in, shop in, recreate in and visit Cork City is of critical importance going forward for the future vitality and development of the City.
Image: Branding Initiative Street Sign (Source: Cork City Council)
Finally, Atlantic Cities concludes that the Cork City best practice is an exceptional example of mitigation and adaptation to the Covid-19 pandemic, and has proven successful in tackling a range of socio-economic challenges. This good practice is undoubtedly a good testimony to how it is possible to rethink our cities, making them more pleasant, safer, greener and more resilient.
For further information on the "Re-imagining Cork City" initiative please contact Dr David Joyce, Director of Services Roads & Environment Operations Directorate of Cork City Council, by e-mail at [email protected].
You can also contact the Atlantic Cities team by e-mail at [email protected].