Since 2011, Park Won-Soon is the mayor of Seoul and as you may know, he puts the citizen into the focus of his policies. In terms of traffic, he emphasizes walking and urban spaces. Pedestrians are a very important transport method in his view. Park Won-Soon himself introduced the concept for a more pedestrian-friendly Seoul on January 22nd.
First, Seoul needs more pedestrian-only zones. One way is the closing of roads on the weekends or certain days during the week. One example is the Sejong-ro (550 meters between Gwanghwamun to Cheonggyecheon), which will be closed every third Sunday of a month from March on. During that day, cultural events and other things are going to be held on that street. Other streets who are going to follow are Iteawon-ro (이태원로), Gangnam-ro (강남로) and Donhwamun-ro (돈화문로).
Second, until 2014 five places are going to be transformed to pedestrian friendly areas. These areas are going to be characterized by wide sidewalks or even pedestrian-only zones with more pedestrian-friendly facilities. The five are are going to be Yonsei-ro (연세로), Seongbukdong-gil (성북동길), Kangbyeon-ro (강변로), Yeongjung-ro (영중로) and Dehak-ro (대학로).
Third, in some areas the pedestrians are going get the priority and cars will be only allowed to drive a speed of max. 30 km/h. This will reduce the accidents between pedestrian and vehicles as well as it will improve the living quality.
The fourth point is about children’s safety. Because they are the weakest traffic user, they afford special focus. Certain roads are going to be specially marked, get CCTV and other necessary facilities. These measures are tested in front of a number of schools in Seoul. Furthermore, there are going to be zones called “Amazon” (아마존), which is somehow an abbreviation for the Korean expression “zone where children can move freely/as they like” (아이들이 마음대로 다니는 공간). In an Amazon-area it isn’t allowed to smoke, patrols are going to regulate traffic, one vehicle for several private education institutes, one-way traffic and many other measures are going to be realized.
The number of accidents can only decrease, if you lower the speed on the roads. Thus, point five says that the speed on roads will be decreased from 60 to 50 km/h or from 40 to 30 km/h. On some important roads, the traffic might be also slowed down from 50 to 30 km/h.
The next point is about the expansion of elevators and escalators. That’s probably a popular point. The entry towards subway station and other facilities have to be accessible by everybody.
Seventh, the duration of the pedestrian crossings are going to be made longer. Currently, Seoul city calculates a walking speed of 1 m/s, but it’s going to be decreased to 0.8 m/s. So pedestrians have more time to cross the street. Especially for elderly, it means that they have less stress and can comfortably walk to the other side of the road.
In addition, all crossroads are going to get pedestrian crossings. There won’t be any need to use a tunnel or bridge to get t0 the other side.
The last point introduces a festival which will be organized by Seoul. This festival emphasizes the culture, arts and shopping opportunities in the center. In 2015, a walk around the castles of Seoul is going to be into the list of UNESCO world heritages.
To sum it up, we have here a number of measures which aim at infrastructure, pedestrians and overall traffic. The measures are really great and the mayor presented a full package of pedestrian-friendly ideas. The urban space of Seoul will be transformed and the living quality will increase for sure.