Seoul City announced a number of new policies and initiatives to help improve pedestrian environments within the city on April 23. Listed below are some of the plans in store:
- One that has been making the headlines is a policy that will see the height of curbs at pedestrian crossings to be reduced from 20cm to 1cm. The city hopes that the change will help make the transition between roads and footpaths easier for pedestrians. (Although we worry it might make it easier for motorbikes to drive up onto the pavement!)
- Improving footpaths by replacing the current PVC based tactile warning for the visually impaired with concrete tactile domes. The current material can get very slippery during snow or rain.
- When footpath maintenance is taking place, “pedestrian safety helpers” are to be dispatched near schools and other places with lots of pedestrian traffic to help direct people and assist any disabled or elderly persons if needed.
- Numerous objects which get in the way of pedestrians such as lampposts, subway vents and power/telecommunications cabinets will undergo rearrangement starting from 2016.
- Manholes which have largely stayed the same over the years, are also on the list to get a makeover by adding related historic or cultural information about the local area to them. A trial of this initiative will begin in August on the manholes in Insadong.
- The city will be making it mandatory for workers involved in paving footpaths to receive specialist pavement construction training with an aim to make Seoul a city of expert pavement engineers.
Seoul City says that these policies put forward are to assist the disabled and elderly pedestrians in more subtle ways as well as strengthen its expertise in pavement construction.
It’s great to see more of a focus being put on pedestrians and making footpaths safer and more accessible. I’ve definitely found myself almost slip on the current yellow tactile warnings a number of times and often had to take extra care when they were covered with snow. While manholes are also not a major, it will be great to see them offer local information. My old neighbourhood did actually have some custom manholes which I always thought was a nice touch, especially on streets with a lot of food traffic.