I'm on a train this afternoon heading out of Dublin en route to Galway. I spent 24 hours visiting Dublin for the first time. It's a great city. It ticks all the urbanist boxes. Ample supply of bus transit, great blue and yellow double deckers. Parks. Public monuments. Investment in an expanded tram network. A constantly evolving cultural heritage seen in local literature, plays, galleries and architecture. Throughout the city, you can observe many riffs on significant contributions from the Irish heavyweights of the past and newer contibutions too.
The city has a bike share scheme too and it's as popular as anywhere. Transport, from commuter rail to bus to tram can be accessed using the convenient Leap Card. The card is able to serve up weekly, monthly and yearly passes, and corporate transit pass programs. It also offers a 24% discount on regular fares.
Dublin feels like an urbanists paradise though much of its urbanist charm is understated. Rather than a marvel of European urbanism like what Copenhagen is to transportation or Paris to urban design, the city seems to work. It has a blend of the good stuff and all to scale for a city region of nearly 2 million. Enjoying the city is effortless and much of what makes it enjoyable to wander doesn't announce itself to you. The city is cosmopolitan, many, many languages can me heard on the street.
The city is recovering from the impact of the financial crisis. The property market soared pre-crash and young Dubliners piled on the debt to purchase new property. The decline in property values following 2007 was so severe that it hasn't really recovered yet. A lot of what's viewed in the property market in the city these days should be viewed through this lens. A lot of people were affected. Now, the market is really spikey. I was reading the paper and can't quite make sense of the widely different prices for similar locations in Dublin. Affordability here is also a political concern. In walking the city, there are signs posted organizing a rally on housing affordability.
The government has tabled a motion to consider legislation that would by pass local councils in approvals for new development. On top of that new affordable housing is being pushed aggressively. There have been delays in delivering this scheme however and the people have watched, waited and demanded results.
People really do push their government for action here and seem to hold them accountable for what ultimately happens. I think that this is ultimately what created this City. Dublin seems to have built itself on its political organization. From the Easter Rising, 100 years ago which ultimately led to the Irish state, the city has carried these stories or revolutionary stewardship for the Irish people forward. From my first impression it seems that this is the reason why people expect change and believe in a government with whomever they can discuss and realise that change. This is how urbanist paradise is made I guess, active citizenry and responsive and engaged government.
I'll be heading back in a couple of days to wander the city some more.