China will build a HSR through North Korea

No country in the world is expanding its high-speed rail (HSR) network as fast as China. It’s impressive how many thousands of kilometers they have built and how they connected the most important cities. China is even competing with countries like Germany, Korea or France for high-speed rail construction projects in countries around the world. Note that HSR was introduced in 2007 in China! And now, China is going to build a HSR line in the most unexpected place: North Korea. Read more of this post

Nubija, Changwon’s Bike-Sharing Service

IMG_5044Once I’ve introduced bike-sharing in Korea at Kojects and there I just briefly mentioned Nubija, the bike-sharing program of Changwon. This is a city on the southern coast of Korea. Among all Korean cities, Changwon has the largest system with ca. 3,000 bicycles and 240 stations. Whereas the national average of bicycle ridership is somewhere between 1 and 2 %, around 10% cycle in Changwon. Last week I’ve traveled to Changwon in order to learn more about the city’s success. With this post I want to share my impression with you. Read more of this post

Bitter, Sweet, Seoul

Today’s post isn’t related to transport or urban development in Korea. Still it shows something wonderful about Seoul, which is worth to share. Seoul initiated a project to produce a movie  with the help of movie directors Park Chan-Wook and Park Chan-Kyong. The directors didn’t film anything! Over a period of three month in 2013 anybody could upload their private videos, which just had to follow the condition that it is made in Seoul. Over 10,000 videos have been submitted and the movie directors chose videos from 141 participants, which they edited to a one-hour movie. The result is pretty nice and this project shows how important the citizens are for Seoul Metropolitan Government. The current Mayor Park Won-Soon puts people in the center of his policies. Enjoy this video!

Some Numbers: Speed Cameras and Cyclist Deaths

In the last days I’ve read some very interesting numbers in two Korean news articles. The first news article is about traffic speed control and the second article shows the issue of cyclist deaths. I translated the most important information and I hope that others find these numbers interesting, too.

Speeding in Seoul

The allowed driving speed in Korean cities is 60 km/h. Even though this is already a very high speed (too high in my opinion), a lot of drivers seem to be speeding. Many streets have speed control sensors and cameras. In 2011 they have caught 416,397 cases, 2012 it grew to 422,245 cases and 2013 recorded a new record: 508,837 cases of speeding. You may think that they increased the number of controls but actually 2013 there were 413 active speed control cameras, while there have been 446 in 2011 and 388 in 2012. Ah, I didn’t tell you the best thing about this statistics: These numbers are only of Seoul! There have been half a million cars in Seoul recorded and fined for speeding. Fines are given for speeds of 72 km/h or more and so probably many car drivers are driving high speeds of 80 km/h inside the city. (Source: 서울이 막힌다고 안심?…과속단속 이곳을 조심하라)

Deaths of Cyclist on Korean Streets

Another article focuses on accidents involving cyclists. In 2010 there have been 11,259 bicycle accidents, 2011 recorded 12,121 cases and there have been 12,970 accidents in 2012. In the last years couple of years, it seems like there wasn’t a large increase. However, if you consider that there have been only 6,024 cases in 2003, it’s an alarming number of traffic accidents. The number of cyclists grew due to it’s trendy image in the last years and promotion by the Korean government. Among the accidents around 300 have been deadly (2010: 297, 2011: 275, 2012: 295). Considering that the modal share of cycling is around 1% in Korea, this is a very high number of deaths. Teenager and elderly have the most accidents on bicycles. The article tries to highlight the reasons behind the high numbers. It mentions that the mindset about cycling has to change. Bicycle and vehicles are equal traffic participants. Cars have to raise more awareness on cyclists on the streets. (Source: 자전거 교통사고로 年 300명 사망)

News About Korail Strike

In the last weeks we received comments, emails and questions about the strike of rail workers union in Korea. Some readers seemed disappointed that we didn’t cover this story. Primarily other obligations didn’t leave any time for a detailed analysis. And second, even though the strike was about the operation of a new railway in Korea, this issue was deeply-embedded in the current political atmosphere and I don’t have enough knowledge to grasp this complex field. Still I don’t want to leave this topic out and thus, I collected the most important news articles in order that everybody, who is interested in this topic, can do research easily with this post. Read more of this post

Avoid, Shift and Improve Concept Applied to Korea

Just recently I heard about the Avoid-Shift-Improve approach for the first time. It’s an important part of sustainable transportation. I was doing research for university and I saw this great video about the A-S-I concept in Korea. It’s definitely worth to see the 12 min-clip:

There isn’t anything to add from my side about this topic. If you want to see more videos related to transport in Korea, please check out the playlist of my YouTube-account.

A Ride through the EcoMobility Festival Area

In my previous post with pictures of Haenggunk-dong after the EcoMobility World Festival, I promised to upload some videos. Here they are! They show a ride through this area along the main street and then through many side alleys before getting back on the main road. If the videos feel strange, then it’s because I used the Youtube stabilization feature. Here’s the first video, which ends with a funny surprise:

Then we got back on the main street and experienced various sorts of traffic on the streets:

Haenggunk Neighborhood After the EcoMobility Festival

After EcoMobility (7)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!

Read more of this post

Sustainable Transportation in Korea

UN-HABITAT published some weeks ago the GRHS 2013 (Global Report on Human Settlements) with a focus on sustainable human transport. Even though the report sometimes mentions Korea/Seoul and it contains an info-box about the bike sharing system in Changwon (p. 137),  a background study about sustainable transport in East Asia was more interesting for me. This report analyzed the condition of transport in China, Japan, Korea (South AND North), Mongolia and Taiwan. The authors seem to be great experts about mainland China and Shanghai but not so much about other regions. Nevertheless, it gives a nice context about sustainability in the transport sector of Korea. This post is going to summarize their main findings related to Korea without going too deep into the topic.

Read more of this post

Seoul’s New Taxi Fare

For the first time in four years the taxi fare in Seoul rises. The basic fare is going to be raised by about 25%. Previously, the basic fare was 2,400 KRW but from now, Oct. 12, a taxi ride will cost at least 3,000 KRW. The taximeter also climbs a little bit faster because previously it was 100 KRW per 144 meters but now it’s 100 KRW per 142 meters.

Overview of Taxi Fare in Seoul Metropolitan Area

  • Normal Taxi – Basic Fare:  3,000 KRW
  • Normal Taxi – Fee per 100 Meters: 70 KRW per 100 meters (or 100 won per 142 meters)
  • Black Taxis and Van Taxi – Basic Fare: 5,000 KRW
  • Fee at night: 1,000 KRW
  • Fee to call a taxi: 2,000 KRW
  • Additional costs: 20% surcharge for travels between Seoul and other cities

It may take one month until all taximeters are adjusted to the new fare system, so please don’t be surprised if the driver suddenly adds 600 KRW to the final amount! Usually, passengers travel 6 km in average which means that they have to pay 10.9% more.

Improvement of Taxi Service

Seoul’s mayor Park Won-Soon said about the changes:

“Fee hike was inevitable because compensation for drivers had to be guaranteed to enhance taxi service. The taxi industry should also reflect on themselves and enhance service for a comfortable travel.”

Actually, Seoul’s new taxi fare comes in bundle with some measures that try to improve the taxi service. The most important is that taxis aren’t allowed to refuse passengers and from now on it will be fined with 200,000 KRW and up to 40 hours of “law-abiding and kindness education”. Second, extra (=illegal) charges to transport passengers will be fined with the same amount. Third, Smoking in cabs is forbidden, for passengers and drivers! It isn’t even forbidden that drivers smoke if they don’t transport passengers. That adds one more space to Seoul’s smoking-free zones! The last notable measure is that all taxis are going to be equipped with security cameras until the end of the year. I hope that these measures are going to improve the quality of taxi service. I’m sure that it will give a lot of stress to the drivers.


Related Sources and Information: The Dong-A-Ilbo | Korea Joongang Daily


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