Seoul’s New Public Bicycle System

Megacities like Paris, London and New York initiated public bicycle sharing systems with the goal to raise the share of cycling. New York has their Citi bikes, London has the Boris bikes (or officially known as Barclays Cycle Hire) and Paris begun in 2007 the world-famous Vélib’. These are all huge systems with thousands of bicycles. Once, we gave an overview of systems in Korea and until now Seoul offers only two small bike-sharing services with around 340 bicycles. This year the bicycle policy team from Seoul’s transport division was unbelievably busy with setting up a new master plan for the development of such a system. A new public bicycle sharing system will be implemented in five areas in Seoul. It is the beginning of a city-wide bike service and the transformation of Seoul’s road infrastructure to a more diverse network. 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

Facelift for Yonsei University Campus

20140728_191958The most renowned universities in Korea are Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University, often summarized as “SKY”. They are always at the maximum of their capacity for students. Therefore, they build more facilities or establish new campuses to host more students. In my two years at SNU I saw the construction and opening of five new buildings. A very famous example of campus improvement in Korea is the campus valley of Ewha University, designed by Dominique Perrault. Yonsei also tries to improve their campus. If you visit their main campus now, you will see a huge construction site. 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

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)

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

Full Operation of Night Bus Services

Back in April we wrote about the beginning of night buses on two routes. The trial was successful with over 220,000 passengers (2,100 people per night!) and so Seoul is going to begin operation of 7 new night lines from September 12. A survey among Seoulites also found out that 88% of the people support bus services throughout the night.

The night buses will also get a special branding: They are going to be called “Owl buses” and this is the concept behind it:

owl-buses

This map in Korean shows where the nine routes are going to operate:

seoul-night-lines

 

Overview of Night Lines in Seoul

N26: Western Seoul Depot – Jungang Depot (강서차고지~중랑차고지) *already operating since April*

N37: Jingwan Depot – Songpa Depot (진관차고지~ 송파차고지) *already operating since April*

N13: Sanggye-dong – Songpachagoji (상계동~송파차고지)

N16: Dobongsan Depot – Onsu-dong (도봉산차고지~온수동)

N61: Yangcheon Depot – Nowon Station (양천차고지~노원역)

N62:  Yangchoen Depot – Myeonmok-dong (양천차고지~면목동)

N10: Ui-dong – Seoul Station (우이동~서울역)

N30: Gangdong Depot – Seoul Station (강동차고지~서울역)  

N40: Bangbae-dong – Seoul Station (방배동~서울역)

 

During the trial the fare price was only at 1,050 KRW but along the start of the other night lines from September 12 the fare will rise to 1,850 KRW. Of course, the bus drivers of the N-lines will have higher wages than their colleagues of the daily services. They aren’t allowed to work during the day to prevent fatigue. The special features of the bus is that the drivers will be separated by a special partition. This should prevent drunk passengers to to attack or distract the driver. Enjoy the ride through Seoul’s night!

More Entrances to Cheonggyecheon Stream

The Cheonggyecheon Stream is without doubt THE best practice of sustainable urban planning in Seoul. It replaced an inner-city expressway by an open space for citizens. Tourists love the stream and at night the atmosphere is really great. There’s of course no project without some negative sides. Among the critics are points like that the restoration didn’t really bring back a natural stream, archeological relics were ignored or even destroyed as well as people, who lived and worked in that area, were displaced. The public wasn’t consulted at all while planning the Cheonggyecheon restoration project. Today I want to discuss another, less famous problem even though everybody, who’ve been there, experienced it: Access to the stream was very limited.  Read more of this post

10 New Lines in Seoul’s Metro Network

A look at Seoul’s metro-map is quite intimidating because it contains over a dozen subway lines (I counted 17, not including Everline) in a wide-reaching network. However, it doesn’t stop authorities from planning further extension and improvements of the system. End of July Seoul announced that they want to build 10 new subway lines in order to give every citizen the possibility to get on a subway within a 10 minutes radius from their home.

Gyeonggi-Do Will Also Expand Rail Network

Before we go into details of Seoul’s plan, I just want to mention that Gyeonggi-do will expand their subway-network as well. 9 lines with 163 km of rail are going to be build until 2020. The costs are estimated to be 5.8 trillion KRW. Their main motivation is to increase the model share of rail transport from 8.9 % to 17.1 %. You can find a map of the new lines for Gyeonggi-do here.

Seoul’s Plan

Actually, the magic number for Seoul is also 9! I mentioned 10 lines but 1 of them is an extension of Metro Line no. 9. Even though it isn’t a completely new plan, the plan contains still some surprising element: The former mayor of Seoul Oh Se-hoon intended to build seven new lines. After Park Won-soon became mayor of Seoul he postponed the plans, which is usually a sign that they were never supposed to be build. Now  the city government published that they are going to build ten new lines.  Six of the lines have been in the plans of the former mayor. The line, which was scratched, was the DMC-Line, a 6.5 km tram line from Susaek Station to the World Cup Stadium. Read more of this post

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