Dedicated roads for children, pedestrian friendly zones and more.
After mapping out the plans for becoming a “pedestrian friendly city” last year, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will actively push out 10 pedestrian environment improvement projects from this year with the aim of increasing pedestrian traffic from the present 16% to 20% by 2020. With this vision in mind, Seoul City has completed a survey of the pedestrian paths in the city and ascertained 4 areas of improvement. Namely, jaywalking due to lack of pedestrian crossings, vehicles occupying pedestrian walkways, 250 overpass and underpass in the city, and uneven pedestrian paths. To improve these areas of concern, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has decided to implement 10 improvement projects with a mind to constructing pleasant, safe and convenient roads with character.
Different types of pedestrian walkways, establishment of pedestrian friendly zones Firstly, ①pedestrian-only roads will be implemented. Taking into consideration the pedestrian volume, road function and volume of traffic of the district, this initiative will be implemented on “weekend” and “whole day” basis. One of the areas involved in several pilot tests last year, Sejongno (in front of Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, Gwanghwamun Junction Sejongno Junction 550m section) will be designated as the first “weekend pedestrian only road”, to be implemented every third Sunday from March this year. Depending on the results, the City Government plans to expand this program to a weekly basis from the second half of the year with the possibility of completely turning the road into a two-way road from 2014.
A Sejongno without cars will become a venue for recycling marketplace, famers’ market, arts theatre and cultural events for the citizens amongst other activities. The City plans to appoint contents specialists MP (Management Planner) to organize events at the venue. International culture avenue “Itaewonno”, the emblem for Gangnam style “Gangnamdaero”, and traditional cultural products street “Donhwamunno” will be turned into “weekend pedestrian-only streets” whilst international food alley “Itaewon Street”, fashion street “Dongdaemun Design Plaza”, and youth culture street “children’s playground” in front of Hongdae will be turned into “wholeday pedestrian-only streets”. In addition, ②5 districts will be designated pedestrian-friendly zones by 2014. Through the extension of walkways, installation of road safety features, footpaths, and other improvements to pedestrian environment, pedestrian-friendly zones have the distinction of regulating vehicular traffic to create pedestrian-only streets whilst maintaining the existing road characteristics of the district.
The target districts include the city’s first public transport zone “Yonsero”, historic cultural district “Seongbukdong-gil”, and areas with high concentration of pedestrians “Gangbyeonno (Gwangjin-gu), “Yeongjungno (Yeongdeungpo-gu)”, and “Daehangno”. The creation of pedestrian-friendly zones will fuse regional characteristics with pleasant pedestrian streets in these 5 districts and is expected to increase the competitiveness of these areas. At the famous “Seongbuk-gil” heritage trail, with footpaths connecting Choi Soon Woo’s Residence~Seoul Castle~Lee Tae Jun’s Residence~Sooyeonsan, facilities to create a pleasant walking experience, augmented pedestrian signage and so forth will attract citizens who wish to take a stroll and add to the vitality of the area. Pedestrian-first roads and children-only roads, lowering of speed limits 3 policies will be implemented to provide a safe pedestrian environment including lower speed limits and children safety zones.
Firstly, in a nationwide-first, ③pedestrian-first safety zones within a 10m radius of pedestrian heavy and accident prone areas will be introduced. At these “pedestrian-first safety zones”, pedestrians and not vehicles will have the right of way, road pavements will be widened, and speed regulating features, pedestrian-first signage and roundabouts will be installed. These roads will have a speed limit of 30km/h. 5 accident-prone areas and roads frequently used by disabled and elderly Based on the pilot tests conducted at 2 of the short-listed districts (Haebangchon-gil, Gukhoedanji-gil, Gaebongdong-gil, Neungdong-gil, Mugyodong-gil) this year, this initiative will be expanded to other areas. To ensure the safety of children, ④children-only roads will be implemented. Along with the implementation of children-only roads, road safety signs and CCTV facilities will be improved, and traffic in front of schools will be regulated during before and after school hours.
From this year, Seoul City will pilot this initiative at 10 elementary schools including Hwagye (Gangbuk-gu), Yeongma (Gwangjin-gu) and Daegwang (Seongbuk-gu), with plans to expand to more school districts depending on the results. The implementation of the “Amazon Plan” at 7 locations in the 5 districts of Eunpyeong, Dongdaemun, Seongbuk and Guro by 2014, where children can walk about freely, will serve as an enhancement to the children-only streets. “Amazon” involves not only the deployment of traffic safety wardens but also implementation of smoke-free roads, volunteer patrols, consolidation of congested private institute vehicles, expansion of CCTV system and converting two-way roads to single direction. These initiatives will be tailored to the actual conditions of the area and help to create an area that is not only child pedestrian safe but also safe from crime.
For example, in the “Mia Elementary School (Seongbuk-gu) vicinity” problems of speeding in front of the school and vehicular traffic along narrow streets were solved by converting the road in front of the school to a one-way road, installation of speed cameras and installation of lights and CCTV at the nearby park. In addition, the Seoul Metropolitan Government is in the midst of implementing ⑤lower speed limits along two-way streets in housing areas to prevent traffic accidents in the suburbs. The proposal to lower speed limits from 40km/hr to 30km/h and from 60km/hr is currently being studied. Timing of green man signal at pedestrian crossings, multi-way crossing at cross junctions To ensure the safety and convenience of all pedestrians, the following 3 points will be implemented.
⑥Improvement of pedestrian environment for disabled and elderly so that even the disabled and elderly can travel safely by themselves. The plan included installation of 2,678 elevators (794 826) and escalators (1779 1852) at subway stations by 2014 and audio announcement of destination for the visually handicapped at 400 bus stops. 1,000 audio signals for the visually handicapped will also be installed every year. From the middle of this year, to ensure pedestrian and traffic safety facilities are visually impaired friendly, bus stops and subway stations, roads and pedestrian walkways (footpaths, pedestrian crossing, traffic signals) will be evaluated using the “Review System for Traffic Facilities for Elderly and Disabled”. ⑦Timing of green man signal at pedestrian crossings will be lengthened. The Seoul Metropolitan Government is working together with the police to estimate the time a pedestrian takes to cross the road and to lengthen the timing of the green man signal from 1.0m/s 0.8m/s to the walking speed of children and elderly. ⑧Multi-way crossing at all cross junctions within the city center will be gradually introduced. This will alleviate the inconvenience of pedestrians having to make detours, and the difficulty of the old and disabled using overpass. By next year, cross junctions in downtown including Gwanghwamun, Anguk-dong, Heunginjimun, City Hall will become multi-way crossings, and pedestrian crossings will be instated at underpass and overpass.