As my time in Ireland comes to a close, I have begun thinking about how the culture here will differ from the one I will immerse myself in again at home in New York. One of the major differences that I have come across is that of the walking culture. In Ireland–and more broadly, Europe–walking places is customary. Not many Dubliners own cars and if they do they are most likely living in a suburban area outside of the city. Additionally, people in Dublin have no need for cars. This is because of the extensive public transportation system in Dublin which includes the Dublin bus system and the Luas. Furthermore, people can easily travel throughout Ireland with the Irish Rail system which provides services to all major areas in Ireland.
In New York, I live in a rural town where most of my conveniences are not in walking distance. The only exception to this is a pizzeria and a gas station within a ten minute walk from my wooded development. For example, the nearest mall is a 45 minute drive away and the nearest movie theatre is over 30 minutes away by car. People in my area do not walk to places simply because they cannot. There is no Main Street and no town center. However, the use of automobiles would significantly decrease if the public transportation system was more sufficient.
From where I live it is a two hour drive to New York City. The Long Island railroad (LIRR) provides services from Long Island to New York City. The LIRR is our equivalent to Irish Rail. However, these services do not reach half of the island and make the nearest NYC bound train station 40 minutes away from my area. If there was greater access to NYC, I believe that more individuals would travel there. This would make for a more educated population in that the city provides culturally enriching experiences for its visitors. From Broadway shows to hockey games, there is something in the city for everyone. Additionally, greater access to more educational and cultural activities would give the youth population a better way to spend their time. This would decrease boredom therefore hopefully decreasing juvenile delinquency.
Here in Ireland, most people have greater access to Dublin where they can experience new things and meet new people. I think that Long Island would benefit from looking to Dublin and Ireland as a whole at their transportation systems. If a bus system similar to that of the Dublin Bus was implemented, then people—specifically the youth—could travel to sporting events, malls and beaches. Not only would this eliminate pressure on parents to always drive their children places, but it would enable kids to get out more and experience different parts of Long Island. Whenever I have traveled on the Dublin Buses I have always notices how there are young school children on it. Not only does that bus provide cheap transportation, but it is a safe way for children to travel throughout an area.