Seoul Announces Initiatives to Improve Pedestrian Environments

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!)
These tactile warning can get quite slippery in the raing. Image — WikiCommons

These tactile warnings can get quite slippery in the rain.

  • 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.

Source:  Yonhap News

Traffic Safety, Liveable Cities and a Lobby That Holds Us Back

This is a guest post by Max Neupert. He is an artist and academic who is interested in contemporary social and technological issues. He is a German citizen who has lived in Canada, Australia, Croatia, Bulgaria and is now based in Daegu, Korea. Max is member of ExtraEnergy, a non-profit consumer organisation for sustainable transportation with a focus on Light Electric Vehicles and electric assisted bicycles. Max is professor in the School of Fine Arts at Yeungnam University in Gyeongsan. You can reach him on Twitter @bauchhaus.
Views expressed are his own.

In this second part of the post I describe which issues I see in Korean road safety and I try to suggest possible measures that could help improve the situation. If you want to read the first part about Traffic safety and public (mis-)education, please click here. It will help you understand what I write at the end of this second part. Read more of this post

Traffic Safety and Public (Mis-)Education

This is a guest post by Max Neupert. He is an artist and academic who is interested in contemporary social and technological issues. He is a German citizen who has lived in Canada, Australia, Croatia, Bulgaria and is now based in Daegu, Korea. Max is member of ExtraEnergy, a non-profit consumer organisation for sustainable transportation with a focus on Light Electric Vehicles and electric assisted bicycles. Max is professor in the School of Fine Arts at Yeungnam University in Gyeongsan. You can reach him on Twitter @bauchhaus.
Views expressed are his own.

Part 1: Traffic safety and the education of the future motorist Read more of this post

Seoul’s High Line Project

Seoul has torn down a lot of overpasses in the last ten years. Alone in this year two overpasses (Ahyeon overpass and Yaksu overpass) have been removed. The majority of elevated roads was built in the 1970s. Now they have very high maintenance costs and even though many people won’t believe it, they are very counterproductive for the  traffic flow because they mainly favor automobiles. That’s the reason why most of them are being removed. After destroying a lot of overpasses, Seoul is finally going to keep one and transform it to a green space for citizens. Read more of this post

Bicycle Paths on Jeju-Do

Korea is a great country for leisure cycling. This can be experienced first hand at the major rivers and on Jeju-do, the largest island of South Korea. I’ve traveled to Jeju-do and cycled along the shore for a week. The island is very special in many aspects. Here I want to take a closer look at the bike infrastructure because  Jeju-do offers certain types of bike lanes.

This was my route (each color represents a different day):

Jejubicycle

Please click here for an interactive Google Map! As usual for cycling tours around Jeju, the route was anti-clockwise. I recorded the trip with Strava and at the end it said that I cycled 283 km.  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:

‘World Cup Bridge’ Completion Date Moved to 2017

“World Cup Bridge” (월드컵대교) is the name of the 22nd bridge which is being constructed across the Han River between Mapo-gu and Yeongdeungpo-gu in order to relieve traffic congestion. This is not recent news by any means, construction on the bridge having started back in February 2010.

Nevertheless, many citizens of Seoul still seem unaware of this new road and pedestrian link which was originally planned to be  completed in the latter half of 2015. According to Financial News, that date has now been changed to 2017 due to reasons including difficulty procuring capital.

월드컵대교조감도

Plans for the World Cup Bridge – Image: Hjzzumnet (WIkicommons)

The exact location of the bridge runs from Yangpyeong-dong in Yeongdeungpo-gu to Sangam-dong, right next to the World Cup Stadium in Mapo-gu. It’s located between the Gayang and Seongsan Bridges, approximately only 650 metres west of the latter. Accordingly, the bridge’s other name used during planning has been the “2nd Seongsan Bridge”.

The 1.98km bridge which is cable stayed and six lanes wide will be built by Samsung C&T at a cost of 334.5 billion won. The southern part of the bridge will link up with Gonghang-ro and the Seobu Expressway, with the northern end meeting Jeungsan-ro and the Naebu Expressway. One good thing about the bridge is that it features dual  bicycle lanes which link up to other cycle lanes along the Han River parks. The bridge will be built so that up to 5000 ton cruise ships can pass below it after coming through the Gyeongin Waterway which officially started operations in May last year.

Read more about the bridge in Korean here or English here(old article).

Pictures of EcoMobility Festival Area in June

After the last post introduced the EcoMobility World Festival to readers, this time I want to show the current progress of the preparations. On Sunday, July 23rd, I visited the prospective festival area. If you want to transform a neighborhood to a car-free area, it takes much more than just removing cars. Long-term changes have to done in the built environment. Let’s start our tour at the beginning of the main street:

IMG_4790 Read more of this post

EcoMobility Festival in Suwon

Can you imagine that a neighborhood in Korea removes all cars and uses many alternatives methods of transport for a whole month? For me, it’s hard to imagine but in September Suwon City and ICLEI are going to hold the “EcoMobility World Festival” (in Korean “수원 생태교통 2013″). The organizers promise a “unique ecomobile experience” and it’s the first festival of this kind in the world. The event’s brochure features the following image:

You can see a mix between public transport, bicycles, bike-taxis and so on. “One month. One Neighborhood. No Cars”, that’s one of the slogans. How can this equation work? Read more of this post

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