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

Amazing Dongdaemun Design Plaza

dongdaemun design plaza (5)Finally I visited the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, in short DDP, which opened on March 21st. As you can already tell by the name, it lies in the famous Dongdaemun shopping area. This very futuristic building is the new hub for design and modern culture in Korea. It is also very photogenic design, so  I took pictures with my phone and GoPro (so some pictures have a wide-angle, fish-eye effect!). If you want to see better pictures, please go to Robert Koehler’s Flickr-page or to his Tumblr. Let’s explore the Dongdaemun Design Plaza together. 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

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)

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.

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Road Safety in Korea

Korea is constantly developing its infrastructure and realizing new rail or road projects. In my opinion, the quality of road infrastructure and public transport here is on a similar level with Germany, France and United Kingdom. However, if you take a look at the number of accidents and deaths caused by traffic, South Korea is far behind the majority of OECD countries. This post tries to look at the situation, reasons and possible solutions. Read more of this post

Korean Solution to Electric Power Supply for Public Transport

We talked about the history of streetcars in Seoul and that Korea is developing a new type of public transport method, which merges the advantages of streetcars and buses. The dependence on fossil fuels has to be reduced. The solution are electrically powered vehicles. Electric vehicles could get energy through external connections (like overhead wire) or they have to carry a battery with a high capacity. Even though overhead wires are still very common in Europe, Korea seems to prefer batteries.  That makes the development very challenging and creative solutions have to be found. In Korea, a company seemed to found such a solution, which involves changing batteries instead of recharging them directly inside of the vehicle.

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PRT System to Open for Suncheon Bay Garden Expo

Final Update: The Suncheon Bay PRT opened in April 2014 as “Skycube”. See following posts:

Update 2: The PRT has still not opened and Suncheon City said that it won’t begin operations until August. More information to come in additional post.

Update: The PRT line will not be opening as planned on April 20 and according to recent sightings at the venue, construction is still ongoing. Keep an eye out for updates.

Spring is not too far off and this April will see the opening of a new PRT(personal rapid transport) system in Suncheon Bay, a coastal eco-park in South Cheolla famous for its nature, wetlands and wildlife. The opening of the line will come sometime after the opening Suncheon Bay Garden Expo, an international festival which will be held for six months from April 20 to October 20. If you’re more interested in what the festival has to offer than the transport, check out the bottom of this post. Read more of this post


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