On Friday, October 25, I revisited Haengkung-dong in Suwon. This neighborhood was the showcase for the first EcoMobility World Festival. I wrote about it several times in the last few months. Almost one month ago the sustainable transport-experiment finished and the area opened again for cars. This was my first visit since the end of the festival. I didn’t have any high expectations and actually, I thought that the situation would be bad (a pedestrian-unfriendly area) but I was positively surprised. Come with me on a virtual walk through Haengkung-dong!
The conference hall and exhibition hall of the EcoMobility Festival disappeared. The space is currently empty but I think that Suwon has already some plans.
A bike rack is stranded and it’s left there without any purpose.
It’s still possible to rent bicycles. Together with my girlfriend I rented a tandem bike and I cycled through the neighborhood. I’ll upload the videos soon in a separated blog post.
They also offer trikes for children, normal bicycles, MTBs and so on.
Do you miss the bike taxis as much as I do? In the corner of a yard I found them together with electric motorbikes:
I believe that I read something about the intention of Suwon and ICLEI to do the festival again in the next year. Then they can use these vehicles again. Next to the e-motorbikes was a container full with bicycles. The next picture doesn’t give you the feeling that you’re in a special area
On the outer parts of the area constructions are still taking place. Sidewalks are going to improve the environment for pedestrians. Like I said earlier, I think that all the construction work wasn’t only focused on the street infrastructure, but there was also an upgrade of sewage, electricity and telecommunication infrastructure.
Most of the cars are parked in the side streets on designated parking places. It seems that there’s a better and more efficient organization of parking space than before the construction. Every spot has a number and so probably also an owner.
Here it says in Korean that the parking place in this area is for the residents but they also have to pay for the parking place.
Along the two main roads there are a lot of flower boxes. This clearly prevents cars from parking and it looks great.
Some of the flower boxes can be moved:
Probably the best evidence for the success of EcoMobility Festival is that some people voluntarily continue to keep the environment car-free. Here somebody put up flower pots in front of his store!
Some spots became parking area to compensate the loss of on-street parking.
The main street looks great. There are even less cars passing through in comparison to August. It became less attractive to drive through this area because the road is narrow and speed is lower than on other streets. Such simple pragmatic reasons can help to transform a neighborhood.
Even though this picture doesn’t show it, in my impression the neighborhood became very colorful and lively. Pedestrians stay on the sidewalk but it isn’t dangerous to cross the streets. The car lanes don’t separate the two sides.
The few cars (or small trucks), that are parking on the main street, are clearly obstacles for traffic and therefore, none of the cars stays there for too long.
What I like about this area is that it has a lot of side alleys. Some of these structures are remainings of old Korean city patterns. However, this alley is totally packed with parked cars. As a cyclist I couldn’t find my way through the vehicles.
The taxi drivers seem to be happy that they can again easily access their favorite restaurant.
The neighborhood was an amazing adventure during the festival with a lot of activities and no cars. During the festival in September children played on the street and it was a very lively area. ICLEI and Suwon done their best last month. Now after the EcoMobility Festival it depends on the commitment of the residents. I believe that the festival had a huge impact. Cars are back but not in the same extent like before. There is a great balance between motorized and non-motorized transport.