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  • Enjoy a Leisurely Stroll around Sinchon

  • Transportation SMG 2824

    [Seoul’s pedestrian-friendly street: Yonsei-ro, in Sinchon,
    a public-transportation-only area]

    • The story of a public-transportation-only area (a pedestrian-friendly street) in Seoul (14)
    • Announcement of the plan for a public-transportation-only area in conjunction with Seoul’s vision of becoming a pedestrian-friendly city, announced in 2012
    • Yonsei-ro: the first public-transportation-only area in Seoul and a street for young people
    • No private vehicles, and public transportation limited to speed of 30 kilometers per hour
    • “The street is now safer and more convenient.”—Pedestrians show 86 percent satisfaction rate
    • A lively street filled with events and festivals

    What is the most important aspect of a city?
    —Making Seoul a people-centered city!

    What lies at the core of a city is the people—they are what really matters—as well as their daily activities and the urban spatial structures in which they engage in such activities. Transportation serves the crucial function of allowing people to carry out those important activities in their daily lives. It is an essential component of a city, but unless transportation is managed properly, it can threaten the city’s sustainability and paralyze urban functions.

    Recognizing this, Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) is changing its transportation policy to put greater emphasis on people. Some examples of these people-centered policy changes are the pedestrian-only and bicycle-only roads in downtown areas, abolishment of additional charges for transferring between buses and subway, establishment of public-transportation-only areas, creation of median bus-only lanes, and efforts to make public transportation more accessible to the public. Through such policy efforts, urban residents are gradually regaining their status as the most important aspect of a city.

    Sinchon five-way intersection (years ago) Yonsei-ro (Before) Yonsei-ro (After)


    Seoul’s first public-transportation-only area

    Most Koreans think of Sinchon as a very crowded place that is popular among youth where jaywalking is rampant and the streets are filled with young people and the sound of car horns blaring.

    Pedestrians jaywalking Opening ceremony for Yonsei-ro as a public-transportation-only area


    In January 6, 2014, Yonsei-ro, the road running from Sinchon Station to the entrance of Yonsei University, was reborn as a center of culture and business with its designation as the first public-transportation-only area in Seoul.

    With this newfound status, the street is open only to pedestrians, bicyclists, buses, 16-passenger vans or larger, and emergency vehicles. Located in a bustling area, the street used to always be filled with vehicles. Moreover, the sidewalk was in very poor condition, and food stalls, power supply boxes, and hawkers were everywhere. For this reason, SMG announced a plan to make “Public Transport-only Area” where only public transit and pedestrians are allowed to pass.

    Yonsei-ro, Sinchon (Before) Yonsei-ro, Sinchon (After)


    Sinchon Star Plaza (Before) Sinchon Star Plaza (After)


    Public-transportation-only areas, established through careful planning, differ from pedestrian-only areas in that public transportation is permitted. The goals of establishing such areas are: transportation demand management, invigoration of downtown areas, increased convenience of public transportation, and improvement of pedestrian environment.

    Sinchon’s Yonsei-ro, a popular place for young people, transformed into a public-transportation-only area

    In June 2012, under its new vision to make the city more pedestrian-friendly, Seoul developed a plan for the establishment of its first public-transportation-only area.

    However, not everyone approved of the designation of this public-transportation-only area; there was resistance from some local residents, storeowners, and citizens in general. Nonetheless, Sinchon’s Yonsei-ro was finally selected from among 10 candidate sites in the area, in consideration of factors such as floating population, status as an economic center, accessibility of public transportation, and level of public recognition.

    Following its selection, Seoul City engaged in positive communication with stakeholders by holding meetings with local citizens and discussion sessions on how to invigorate business in the Sinchon area. The city also discussed the issue with the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.

    A car-free street where walking is enjoyable

    Finally, with its designation as the first public-transportation-only area in Seoul in January 2014, Yonsei-ro was reborn as a center of culture and commerce in the Sinchon area. The 550-meter-long section of the street is now open only to pedestrians, bicyclists, buses, 16-passenger vans or larger, and emergency vehicles, and the speed limit is set at 30 kilometers per hour. Moreover, private vehicles are not permitted to use the street between 2 p.m. on Saturday and 10 p.m. on Sunday.

    Any vehicles found in violation of these rules are fined under law. However, taxis are allowed on the street between midnight and 4 a.m., and pre-approved trucks serving shops located along the street are permitted between 10 and 11 a.m. and between 3 and 4 p.m. every day.

    To minimize the inconvenience for vehicles in the area, various adjustments were made, such as the installation of a new intersection for vehicles passing through the area and a new signal system.

    Yonsei-ro as a car-free street on the weekend Signs indicating the public-transportation-only area


    After the designation of Yonsei-ro as a car-free street on weekends, the first major change was the number of street performances held in the area.

    Yonsei-ro as a car-free street on the weekend Signs indicating the public-transportation-only area


    This has led the street to become a place where people go to have a good time in a festive atmosphere. During the Christmas season, in particular, a concert is held every night. On Christmas Day, big-name performers mingle with the people and add to the festive atmosphere. During this special season, there are also interactive experience events and a Sharing Zone and Kids’ Zone are set up, among others.

    “Run, Piano” Festival City Slide Festa Christmas festival


    The most popular festival held on Yonsei-ro is the summer City Slide Festa, which is much like the festivals held in London, Las Vegas, Sydney, and Paris. The main draw of the festival is the 350-meter-long waterslide, the longest in the country. This event allows people to forget the scorching heat of the Korean summer while enjoying the various entertainment facilities and other ancillary events.

    Satisfaction expressed by 86 percent of pedestrians

    When the plan to transform Yonsei-ro into a public-transportation-only area was announced, many people voiced concerns. However, the city government, local residents, and storeowners managed to reach a consensus on the issue by exchanging opinions and discussing ways to overcome the difficulties involved. As a result, Yonsei-ro has regained its status as a street of youth and culture and a place where people are what really matter in the city. About 86 percent of pedestrians in the area have expressed satisfaction with the designation of the street as a public-transportation-only area, saying that the street has become more convenient and safer as a result (83.8 percent). In addition, the number of traffic accidents occurring in the area has been decreasing consistently, from 48 in 2013 to 37 in 2014, and again to 35 in 2015; and with the increase in the floating population, the area is becoming more economically active.

    People are what matter on Yonsei-ro

    SMG, in collaboration with local residents, plans to continue its efforts to attract more visitors to Yonsei-ro by holding performances, exhibitions, and festivals all year round.

    Water slide demonstration session Water gun festival


    Merely walking down the road is now a unique experience!
    See indie bands performing right in front of you!
    You will also have the pleasure of finding street artists in the spaces that have been opened up on the car-free street of Yonsei-ro on the weekend.
    Sinchon’s Yonsei-ro is poised to become a new cultural center of Seoul.