Seoul Metropolitan Government has designated a section of Sejong-ro as a ‘pedestrian-only street’ to be reserved exclusively for pedestrians and cyclists. All vehicles including public transportation will be prohibited from using the 550-meter strip between the Gwanghwamun three-way intersection in front of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts and the Sejong-ro sageori on a trial basis beginning on Sunday, September 23. Along with the public transportation-only zone in Sinchon, which is suppose to open from 2014, the ‘pedestrian-only street’ is part of the ‘Pedestrian-Friendly City’ project announced by Mayor Park Won Soon during his visit to Curitiba, Brazil back in June.
Seoul City selected Sejong-ro as the first pedestrian-friendly street in the trial program because it is situated close to a number of palaces and museums and is a main road connecting southern and northern downtown, and because many central government offices and business buildings are located there.
To symbolize the return of this busy, traffic-congested street to pedestrians, the city government has prepared a variety of events in which Seoul citizens will be able to participate while walking freely along it.
On the street in front of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, various events will be held to promote cycling, an environmentally-friendly means of transportation, and to make bicycles more accessible. The events will include the 4th Seoul Bicycle Parade, a Slowpoke Bike Contest, an “Experience Exotic Bicycles” event, and BMX performances.
In Gwanghwamun Square in front of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, people will be able to buy agricultural products and seafood items by bypassing the middlemen, as well as purchasing agricultural products directly from urban farmers at the farmer’s market. Civil groups and social businesses will open the ‘Reuse and Recycle Share Market.” In addition, people can sell their unused belongings at the ‘flea market,’ the profits from which will be used to promote recycling and sharing.
In the ‘Car-free Week’ event to be held at Sejongno Park members of the public can find out all about the ‘Car-Free Week’ program, including how to join it and what are its effects. Environmentally-friendly driving ideas will also be displayed, and visitors to the event will be able to experience environmentally-friendly driving. Three performance centers including ‘Teurak’ at the cultural square of the Sejong Center for Performing Arts will stage diverse performances by street artists, a Korean traditional music ensemble, a Korean traditional dance group, and various independent bands.
Seoul City will prepare its ‘Comprehensive Plan for Sejong-ro, Pedestrian-Only Street’ after monitoring the trial events and listening to the opinions of local residents and businessmen. From the long-term perspective, the city will supplement and systemize the plan to implement the pedestrian-only road. The city will also introduce a variety of performances and cultural events to Sejong-ro in a bid to transform it into an ‘open cultural street’ where the road becomes both stage and seating, like the streets around Hongik University, and to promote Sejong’s unique ‘sustainable citizen culture.