I love traveling and working in other cities trying to cherry pick some of the best things that we could incorporate into Dublin. People often get angry saying Dublin should stay exactly as it is but I don't want to change what we have because it is unique, friendly and on the up, but having said that we should always be improving as a city and looking to borrow things that other great cities in the world have. I covered London and San Francisco in the past, this week I am in Berlin spending the week working remotely and soaking up the ambience of one of the world's great cities. Here are some of the things we could copy from Berlin that would improve Dublin even more…
Improved Public Transport
The truly great cities in the world make it super easy to get around them. Dublin might not be the biggest city in the world but we do have one of the most shocking public transport networks going. Granted Berlin have much bigger budgets and the country isn't broke, but you are never more than a few hundred yards from underground, trains, trams or busses. We have those in Dublin but not many of them seem to connect and there is no joined up thinking in our public transport system. You can get into "town" pretty easily but trying to get from one suburb to another usually means driving, a taxi or an excessively long public transport trip with multiple changes. We aren't going to change this in Dublin overnight, but the fact that our 2 Luas lines are only now getting connected to one another shows the extent of the problem.
With the recession came a huge upsurge in the amount of people using bikes in Dublin. Thats a really good thing for the city and the city bikes have helped people to get around with more ease but any cyclist in Dublin will tell you it is like running a gauntlet cycling around our capital with a constant battle against cars and buses. In Berlin there are over 600km of cycle paths around the city which keep cyclists safely away from the traffic and the streets clear of messy traffic. This can be done in Dublin and you only have to look at the success of the bike lanes along the canal to see that it works and people are open to it.
Public Licensing Laws
Open a bottle of beer on a bus, Luas or in a park in Dublin and the chances are pretty high that you'll be pulled up by the police or some sort of authorities while being looked down upon by fellow passengers. Drinking in public is very much frowned upon in Ireland even though ironically we have a massive problem with the booze on all levels in our capital. In Berlin you'll see tons of people on the commute home enjoying a nice big cold bottle of beer on the underground. No need to hide it in a brown paper bag or feel guilty about it and everybody throws them in the bin on the way home. The same things happens in public parks with people enjoying a couple of bottles of beer or a glass of wine on a summer's day. People will say that we'd abuse such privileges in Ireland but I'd disagree and say that by banning it everywhere people just want something more. Is public drinking really that bad of a thing?
Encouraging More Street Art
In recent times we are starting to see some amazing street art in Dublin. We've been profiling it here on the site but to a large extent it is limited to a couple of spots in the city including the George Benard Shaw and the Tivoly Theatre car park. Walk around Berlin and the city feels like it is coming to life with talented artists turning vacant lots, walls and buildings into masterpieces and giving the city a whole different feel to it. You don't want Dublin to turn into a vast graffiti jungle but there are certainly some places that we should be opening up to artists and making them feel welcome and making the city look way better in the process.
In Dublin we tend to go to an office or some sort of building to work. Berlin certainly has that like most cities but there is also a massive culture for co-working. This can either be in organised spaces designed especially for that purpose or indeed in cafes or bars that encourage the practice. For anybody who has ever worked on their own, as a free lancer, as a start up business or in a job that doesn't have an office, co-working is like a breath of fresh air. You share a room with people in the same position, there is a sense of community and creativity flows. Cafes in Berlin are often set up with everything from super fast WIFI, plugs, desks, pumping tunes and everything else you could need including printers. Bigger areas mean they afford to have you sit there all day and buy just 3-4 drinks and a bite of lunch. For 20 Euros you have an amazing shared office. We need more of these in Dublin because the demand is certainly there for them.
Shared Sports Facilities
So I was here for Germany winning the world cup, among the many things I tried to do when in the city was identify the things that have made Germany win 1/5 of every world cup ever staged. There are numerous reasons including team work and discipline but I couldn't help but notice the amount of shared sports grounds around the city. All in pristine condition and available for anybody in the suburbs to use. You'd find a basketball court and football pitch every couple of blocks and teams of locals playing on them We have a couple of these in Dublin but they are often privately owned and you have to pay as a team to use them. More communal sports facilities especially in underprivileged areas that are free to use and kept to the highest standard would do Dublin no harm at all.
Pets + Bikes On Public Transport
I have 2 dogs and it can be a massive pain getting them around Dublin. I can either walk with them to a specific place, or lump them into the car. In Berlin dogs of all shapes and sizes ride the underground with their owners and I never once saw an issue. You also see people taking their bikes on the trains and underground (not allowed on some of the very busy lines) allowing people to cycle more when super long distances would't be an option. People in Berlin use a degree of common sense when doing this on public transport so we should surely be able to apply the same principles in Ireland. I'd imagine there are a bunch of people for example living in town without a car who would love to jump on the Luas out to the edges of the city with their dogs. If they are fully trained and not causing any issue is it really a big deal for them to quietly sit in a corner on public transport?
What do you think of the above? Should we be introducing these sorts of things into Dublin or are we just fine as we are now?