Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Public Transportation and Healthier Lifestyles

O'Connell Bridge at dusk
Dublin, Ireland
Hello Everyone:

I'd like to start by saying hello to Paul Mackie, the editor-in-chief of Mobility Lab.  Mr. Mackie commented on yesterday's post on the Arlington model.  Please keep reading.  On to today's topic, prioritizing active transportation and healthy living in Dublin, Ireland.

A recent post on the Sustainable Cities Collective discussed how Dublin, Ireland is promoting healthier lifestyles through planning for growth.  A key part of Dublin City Council 2011-2017 Development Plan includes better transportation links and improvements in pedestrian and bicyclists facilities.  The Development Plan also called for more sports and recreational facilities.  The core vision of the plan states,

Dublin City Council's core strategy between 2011 and 2017 is to develop Dublin as a place that:
* is clean, green, compact and connected
* has an innovative, smart economy
* contains sustainable neighbourhoods and communities (

Updating pedestrian facilities has been a growing priority in recent years.  Ireland's best-known shopping street, Grafton Street was pedestrianized in 1982, along with a number of other streets over the years.  In 2011 the city adopted The Public Realm Strategy-Your City, Your Space whose goals are providing "...overarching framework for integrated planning and management of the public realm of the city within the canals." (  One of the actions taken toward improving pedestrian facilities was the removal of possible hindrances such as street furniture.

Another component of improving transportation and encouraging healthier lifestyles is the growing popularity of the city's Dublinbike public bicycle rental program.  This program was created by Mayor Andrew Montague with the idea of providing a free bike for everyone.  Mayor Montague was inspired by the successful bike schemes in cities such as Copenhagen.  As in Copenhagen, the idea was initially met with cynicism. (  Nevertheless, Dublinbike is considered one of the most successful public bike rental schemes in the world and there are plans to expand it into Ireland's next three largest cities.  The recent visit to the Emerald Isle by Giro d'Italia couple with the success of Dublinbike proved that cycling can become a prominent feature in promoting healthy lifestyles for Dubliners.

Ha'Penny Bridge
Public transportation is also a target for improvement.  Some commuters in Dublin must travel great distances for work.  This means increased dependency on the car and a greater need for improved transportation links.  In recent month, major advances have been made in the planned improvement of transport links, including the apparent revival of the DART Underground plan.  DART Underground a network of tunnels approximately 7.6 kilometers in length that will connect the Northern and Kildare lines with underground stations with strategically located stations at Spencer Dock, Pearse Street, St. Stephan's Green, Christchurch, and Heuston Station, as well as an above ground station in Inchicore. (  Although there has been no official announcement, Irish Rail has issued compulsory purchase orders to a number of city center retailers and homeowners on the sites of the planned development.  In 2011, hard financial times put the proposed underground railway system on hold.

Dublin street sceen
Increasing the use of public transport in Dublin must become a greater priority if there's to be significant reduction in the city's pollution and congestion levels.  Yet, there have been recent increases in public transit rider fare which has reinforced the need for a car.  Essentially, why spend the money on train or bus fare when a car costs less.  In 2012 close to €11 million was authorized to a number of sports facilities in Dublin by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, under the Sports Capital Programme (SCD).  This program is intended to "develop high quality, safe, well-designed, sustainable facilities in appropriate locations and and to provide appropriate equipment to help maximize participation in sport and physical recreation."  Encouraging a healthy lifestyle through proper planning is key component of the SCD, which also puts a prioritizes grants to underprivileged areas.

It has just occurred to me, that the common thread in these posts has been transportation.  Specifically how transportation can affect positive changes people's lives.  For example, in New Delhi, by simply introducing safe, reliable, and efficient bus and transit lines along the vast stretches of road that crisscross the city, women and girls can travel to work or school without fearing for their personal safety.  In the Virginia-Washington D.C. area, we've looked how transit-oriented developments has the potential to revitalize once neglected communities, turning them into vibrant places to live and work.  In today's post we looked at how the City of Dublin is looking to encourage healthier living through increased public transport use.  In all of these examples, transportation is being used in ways other than just the basic get-from-point-a-to-point-b.  When properly planned transportation has potential to (re)create exciting urban centers.  If only Los Angeles civic officials could understand this.

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