We asked for your ideas to improve Dublin - here's what you said
Readers suggest ways to improve the capital: brighter buildings, rain shelters and no more on-street parking
Illustration: Fuchsia MacAree
This article is part of the Capital Ideas series of proposals to improve Dublin city’s infrastructure, economy and services, as well as the daily life of its citizens. Read all 10 ideas here. Here are some reader suggestions for improving life in Dublin. Contribute your own here.
Stephen Walsh: Fixed-fee travel
Issue everyone in Dublin (who wants one) with a travel pass that can be used on all Dublin Transport, (Bus, Luas, Dart) for the once off annual fee of €365. That’s all. For less than €1 a day you are free to roam our beautiful city of Dublin like it is in Vienna and explore. To implement it you issue everyone who wants it with a Public Services Card (which is a government objective) that’s preloaded with the credit. It will help Dublin Bus get buy-in for its plan, offer commuters a real saving and generate a lot of revenue that can be reinvested into the public transport system. It’s win-win. It will also encourage more people to leave the car at home, thereby having a positive affect on the environment too.
Maria Mulvany: Cycle lanes
If we want to improve Dublin, protected cycle lanes are a key factor. Forty per cent of people commute by bike in Copenhagen. There is no reason Dublin can’t achieve similar numbers with investment. London built cycle superhighways and introduced congestion charges and the result was a 60 per cent decrease in car users and a quadrupling of cyclists between 1999 and 2017. Similar investment in Dublin would reduce congestion, and have huge benefits for public health and the environment.
Frances Donnelly: Plant trees
If it’s impossible to have a car-free city, we should have a city with trees. Berlin is certainly not the prettiest of cities, but its many trees help make it a pleasurable city to live in. Planting trees is cheap, effective and utterly for the common good.
Andrew Fagan: A Dublin metro
Dublin sorely needs a highly efficient, extensive underground public transport metro system. In visiting great world cities, one of the key delights is the ability to get around quickly and easily. Dublin has so much to offer, but it can be a real pain to move about, and long commuting woes seriously degrade one’s enjoyment of living in a city. On a recent visit to Vienna to attend a conference, I took their metro system each day in and out of the city centre to the convention centre. The ease of getting to and from there opened up that location for such an activity - in Dublin, travelling a similar distance to the convention centre (necessarily via ground bus, since the Luas tram network is so restrictive) would have taken much longer and been much less enjoyable. In Vienna, there were no ticket barriers slowing access – rather, citizens and visitors alike were trusted to have the correct ticket. Imagine that, a grown-up city actually trusting people to act responsibly.
John Thompson: Charge commuters
Planners in recent decades have treated Dublin as a commuter city, a place where people who live in Meath, Kildare, Wicklow and further afield have to drive to everyday to work. Dublin is not just a place to work though.
The costs of facilitating sprawl and the commuter lifestyle are huge, both in financial and in social terms. Some of the money commuters spend goes to local businesses like cafes and parking lots, but at present the 250,000 commuters who enter Dublin every day pay no local property taxes, are not part of any local community groups, clubs or societies and contribute nothing to city life. They do however do consume huge areas of our city with traffic and parking spaces and produce large amounts of air pollution with their cars, while using as much water and energy, and generating as much waste, as any local during the hours they are in the city.
We should recognise the physical and social cost of commuting that is borne by Dubliners, and realise this in a commuting charge. Every car not registered to a Dublin address should pay a small toll every time it crosses a county boundary, and every commuter fare into Dublin should carry a small levy.
The extra cost would make commuting a less attractive lifestyle and encourage people to live in more sustainable circumstances closer to the city. The fees collected could be invested in making the city more liveable, safer, brighter, and more beautiful for its actual inhabitants.
Mark L: Paint the suburbs
Paint the housing estates in the city with vivid colours. This will make them nicer to look at and instil a sense of community and pride among the locals. Like this.
Mary Pierce: Fix the paths
In December 2014 as I walked along a footpath near St Stephen’s Green, I stepped onto the edge of a shore lid and turned my ankle, in fact I broke it. Three years later, the uneven slab of tar surrounding the base of a tree on the footpath on the South Circular Road tripped me up, treating me to a broken arm. Please level the shore lids, repair the slabs, remove the random slabs of tar and reinforce the subsidence. In fact, anything that would make the mere act of walking less like an obstacle course would help improve our capital city.
Jason Power: Community groups
I believe building an active community group within each suburb of Dublin could help galvanise local suburbs, and collectively the city. These communities should be created after international best practices research on inclusive community groups that work and benefit their locality within a city.
Each citizen should be continually invited to join their local community group. Each local business, club, event and charity should be publicised to the members of each community. Members of each community should offer how they could individually help their community and submit their innovative ideas to help improve their local suburb, and hence the city.
A volunteer diverse group of locals within each suburb should be elected every two years to manage their suburb community group. Initially suburb communities could address the cleanliness of their area, improving and expanding neighbourhood watches, elderly inclusivity, carpooling, fitness of their locals and how technology can help their community.
Northside and southside communities could be paired together so as to regularly exchange ideas that are proven to improve their suburb through their community. Each local community group should be allowed to submit to Government for funding for innovative ideas that would radically improve their suburb.
Annually a representative of each suburb community should come together to share their best community initiatives of the year and their best ideas to increasing membership and participation within their local community. Boosting local pride and support by locals would have a positive impact on suburbs which collectively would have an overwhelming positive impact on Dublin City.
Michael Mulcahy: Public toilets
I am a frequent visitor to Dublin with large tour groups. The lack of access to public bathrooms is a serious problem and an embarrassment to explain. I would like to see several locations around the city centre providing the aforementioned facilities, at a reasonable charge to cover the ongoing staffing which is essential to guarantee cleanliness and discourage any anti-social behaviour.
Cian Ó Concubhair: Scrap on-street parking
Make more space for segregated cycle lanes in Dublin by doing two things: First, remove 60 per cent-plus of the wasteful on-street car parking spaces in the city centre (on large parts of the quays still – incredibly given the traffic crisis in the city – have all-day car parking on them, but lots of other streets should be car-parking-free too).
Space in the centre is now at an absolute premium – and the city centre’s streets are not capable of handling the current volumes of surface-travelling public and private transport, let alone projected increases.
This problem is mirrored in a large number of core suburbs such as Rathmines, Phibsborough, Clontarf, Kilmainham. Pedestrians and cyclists are by far the most space-efficient form of transport in the centre, so they should be given priority. This would also incentivise people to cycle or take public transport into the city centre.
Dublin City Council needs to give up on its addiction to the parking income. The leftover on-street parking should then prioritise people with mobility issues who require a car to travel. Secondly increase the number of one-way streets throughout the entire city, including the suburbs. Cities like Valencia have massively increased the space available in the medieval centre by creating a city largely of one-way streets. This usually leaves space for at least a generously sized segregated bi-directional cycle lane, but could also increase the width of footpaths.
Eimer Murphy: Penalise land hoarders
I’m a theatre professional living in the Liberties. I too am a victim of the housing crisis, losing my rented home after 11 years here. I love my house, I love the street, I LOVE the Liberties. It is breaking my heart to leave but like many other artists, I don’t have a choice. I have sent this idea to every TD and councillor I could think of, and even to Michael D (although in fairness, he’s been a bit busy lately).
I think Dublin City Council should get tough on land and property hoarders. Forget cajoling with tax incentives for landlords, property owners and land hoarders: simply penalise them. Give them an ultimatum: renovate, sell, or give up your property, and if they don’t, then seize vacant buildings.
Councils could then turn them over to people like me, ie low income first-time buyers who would not buy a brand new apartment in a blue fit (sorry but we do exist, it’s the reason I have rented in this lovely old building for so long ).
As a lover of old buildings I would gladly spend every penny I earn and every spare minute I had renovating an old building just for the privilege of living in one and the joy of rescuing it (there are entire television genres dedicated to people like me). The house could be turned back over to the council in better condition after I die or move on. This doesn’t just refer to the more obviously beautiful buildings like Georgian or Victorian townhouses. There are plenty of interesting old industrial complexes around which would make perfect work/live spaces for artists and makers.
It kills me to see empty and decaying older buildings being left to rot. This solution would help to preserve our built heritage, and would take people out of the rental market. It would also maybe stem the flow of artists out of the city, which is at crisis point at the moment.
Hari Lall: Gimme shelters
I have been thinking about this forever: when it rains there is no place for anyone to take shelter in Dublin city. I would love to see some architectural structures that will enhance the city’s architecture plus provide shelter for people at the same time.
Paul Murray: Ban pavement boards
One simple thing to improve our city: ban the use of pavement boards advertising the wares of adjacent businesses. Grafton Street, and adjoining streets, as well as South William Street have been demeaned with this practice. But I wouldn’t be hopeful that anything will be done: we are still waiting for enforcement of the rules in regard to excessive noise by buskers.
Jo Reading: Pedestrianise College Green
Pedestrianise College Green on weekends from 10am-6pm to allow market stalls, street performers, buskers, tourists and locals a central space to gather and relax in the centre of the city.
Lisa O’Dowd: Dogs on leads
I have three small children, we live in a terraced house and space is limited. My eldest child has recently been diagnosed with ADHD and everyday life is a struggle for him. The only thing that keeps him and his family in good mental health is getting him out into vast spaces to run. We literally strive to run his energy off.
We need access to large safe spaces but each and every time we visit a beach or a park, a forest walk or mountains we are met with people who insist on having their dogs off leads.
We as parents spend our time scanning for not only loose dogs but dog faeces. Why is that in the age of an obesity epidemic we cage our children in man-made playgrounds and parks, and allow dogs to run free in our natural beauty spots? Why do our children not have the right to run safely on a beach without stepping in faeces or being chased by a dog who sees it as a game?
Michael Lacey: Be Berliners
It is not fair to say that “foreign is necessarily better”, but we can learn from foreign capitals. I’m just back from Berlin after a week’s break and here are my impressions. We need to make make Dublin much more pedestrian-friendly. We need to develop traffic-free central plazas such as the College Green Plaza.
In Berlin, pedestrian lights are respected and there is no jay-walking. However you know that you will get a green man within 30 seconds, so there is a fairer balance of traffic-pedestrian green time. There are well marked and/or segregated bicycle lanes everywhere and they are well used.
Public transport is clean, frequent, reliable and cheap. All modes are integrated mainline, surface, underground, tram, bus. Real-time information is the norm.
Berlin is well policed. There are squads of police in vans at every major intersection. It looks and feels safe, even at night.
Anne O’Callaghan: Support independent shops
Support small businesses for diversity in Dublin. Increasingly the city centre is losing interesting small businesses to more cafes and tourist shops. City centres in European cities are so interesting because of the variety of small shops. Commercial rates should be reduced for small owner-occupied businesses, and independent cafes, bookshops to allow them to compete with multinationals.
Thomas Kirby: Metro fast
Fast-track Metro North to get people out of their cars and free up the M50. Dublin has to be the only major European city not to have a rail-link under the airport. It’s a disgraceful legacy of nimbyism and dithering planners.
Ann Kelly: Bin the bins
Bins – a blight on the city landscape We need to talk about bins which are filling our gardens, streets, apartment complexes and offices with ugly lumps of various coloured plastic. Bins are of course necessary but we could aspire to design a sustainable, aesthetically appealing and smart alternative which would fulfil the same function but would enhance the cityscape.
There is an opportunity here to innovate and come up with a new solution both in terms of material and product capability. Think what a change it would make to city streetscapes if we had a pleasing bin design which fitted into or even enhanced the background rather than jarring the senses at every turn.
Dan Kerins: Think regional
To make Dublin better, give people a reason to leave it. Investing in other locations in the country – Cork, Limerick, Galway, Sligo and Dundalk for starters – and serious investment in rail links to them. This not only has the benefit of spreading wealth around the country more, it could also provide new ideas and successes in the provinces which could require the authorities in Dublin to get more serious about their city, rather than just relying on the fact that as the capital, people and jobs will automatically gravitate towards it.