– ‘Regional tailor-made improvements of the pedestrian environment’ will be applied to the residential, tourist and historical & cultural districts according to the regional characteristics
– Focus on raising the level of pedestrian safety in a concentrated residential area along ‘Gueui Riverside Road’
– Attempt to vitalize the regional business areas by improving the environment for pedestrians at the special tourist zones such as Myeongdong and Itaewon
– Provide convenient cultural trail by improving the environment for pedestrians and the system for guiding them in the ‘Historical & Cultural District (Seongbuk-gu)’
– It is the initial designations since the ‘Act on Walking’ was passed. At least 2 places will be annually designated next year
– According to the city government, “Continuous monitoring and amendments will be put into place in order to protect and develop regional characteristics and to maximize pedestrian safety”
The City of Seoul announced the creation of ‘Pedestrian-friendly City’ earlier this year, and it has designated‘Pedestrian Environment Improvement District’, where the pedestrian environment will be improved according to the regional characteristics.
The city government stated that the five major places in the city— Itaewon World Food Culture Street, Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Jung-gu, Myeongdong Special Tourist Zone in Jung-gu, etc.—where a lot of pedestrians can be usually found, will be designated as the ‘Pedestrian Environment Improvement District’ on the 12th (Thursday).
‘Pedestrian Environment Improvement District’ is being designated based on the ‘Act on the Promotion of Pedestrian Safety and Convenience (the Ministry of Security and Public Administration)’ that was enacted in August, 2012. The existing ‘sidewalks exclusively for pedestrians’ were simple line-based spaces. On the other hand, ‘Pedestrian Environment Improvement District’ is a plane-based concept which includes customized management and improvements according to the regional characteristics.
Unlike the ‘sidewalks exclusively for pedestrians’, which just provided the space for convenient walking by controlling the movement of vehicles, comprehensive customized improvements will be made to the pedestrian environment improvement districts by considering the regional characteristics such as surrounding business areas, pedestrians’ walking patterns and the density of traffic.
The five places in Seoul that are designated as ‘Pedestrian Environment Improvement Districts’ are: ① Gueui Riverside Road in Gwangjin-gu; ② Itaewon World Food Culture Street in Yongsan-gu; ③ Myeongdong Special Tourist Zone in Jung-gu; ④ Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) in Jung-gu; ⑤ Historical & Cultural District in Seongbuk-gu. These are the places with high density of pedestrians and special regional characteristics in terms of residential, tourist and/or cultural aspects.
First, ① Gueui Riverside Road in Gwangjin-gu, a densely populated area with many apartments and houses, was selected by the residents’ requests, and the road will be completed at the end of the year. Since most pedestrians are the residents in the area, the focus was put on organically linking the sidewalks for pedestrians with the commercial and convenience facilities in order to raise the pedestrian safety in their daily lives.
The City of Seoul has paved the back roads, where it is difficult to tell the sidewalks from the roadway for cars, with precast pavers in order to distinguish the sidewalks from the roadway for cars. In case of the roads where there is not enough space for walking due to panel board boxes or roadside trees, the facilities were removed to secure enough space for pedestrians. In addition, the city installed the plateau-type crosswalk of which the height is the same with that of the sidewalk in order to have the vehicles slow down spontaneously.
Next, ② Itaewon World Food Culture Street in Yongsan-gu, where the improvements were completed last month, is a distinctive global cultural street that is quite rare in Seoul. The improvements of the pedestrian environment were urgently needed as many small and big festivals and events are held in the street throughout the year.
The number of passengers who get on and off at the Itaewon station (Line 6) is continuously increasing, 9.35 mil. passengers in 2010, 10.22 mil. in 2011 and 10.99 mil. in 2012. However, pedestrians have experienced inconvenience due to too many cars and traffic conditions unfavorable for pedestrians.
The City of Seoul, before making improvements, has used ‘Itaewon-ro 27’ as ‘weekend pedestrian-only street’ from 16:00 to 24:00 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays when the tourist traffic is heaviest since the end of October. Therefore, on weekend evenings, the car traffic is constrained and the pedestrians are allowed to move freely. The policy is working smoothly as the residents and businessmen in the district voluntarily participate in it.
The city has improved the environment for pedestrians with the following activities: the whole streets that used to be paved with asphalt were completely repaved colorfully like sidewalks; the aging stairs were repaired and the power lines were laid underground; and the residential parking spaces were removed to create the pedestrians-first region in consultation with the residents. With these improvements as a starting point, the city plans to promote the vitalization of the regional economy by improving the environment for pedestrians and supporting the development and hosting of various festivals and events that are fit for the regional characteristics.
Myeongdong Special Tourist Zone and Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDD) in Jung-gu, are the places with many pedestrians in Seoul, and it is expected that the number of visitors to the areas would be increasing in the future after DDD opening next March. The improvement plan for the two regions is being set through the evaluation of their current conditions, and it is expected that the additional plan will be completed by 2015.
‘Myeongdong Special Tourist Zone’ is a major commercial area representing Seoul. Its average number of pedestrians per hour in 2012 was 5,869, and it was 15 times higher than 386, that of Seoul. It means that it is a highly concentrated area with pedestrians and it requires careful management for pedestrian safety.
‘DDD District,’ which is the Mecca of the garments and fashion industry, is an area with a large number of the floating population at night as well as during the day. It was selected as the pedestrian environment improvement district to be ready for increasing number of visitors after the opening of DDD next year.
The City of Seoul is planning to make various improvements of the Myeongdong Special Tourist Zone and DDD District, not limited to the improvements of the pedestrian facilities but also combining with visual information designs in order to revitalize the local business zone.
Finally, ⑤ the work on Historical & Cultural District in Seongbuk-gu, which is famous for the art and culture streets with galleries, historical sites and numerous restaurants, will start early next year, beginning with Seongbuk-dong Road which is the busiest street with pedestrians. The project will be completed by 2015 step by step.
The work on Historical & Cultural District in Seongbuk-gu includes securing enough space for pedestrians, installing rest areas for pedestrians, etc. in order to help visitors move more comfortably. Also, the city plans to provide convenient historical and cultural trials with guideposts of various galleries and historical sites such as Gansong Gallery, Seongbuk-gu Gallery and Simu-jang.
The City of Seoul will spearhead the drive to gradually improve and expand the sidewalks that connect Samcheong-gak with Gilsang Temple by 2015. The project is expected to make the area competitive with its special historical & cultural characteristics and comfortable environment for pedestrians.
The City of Seoul will continue to monitor the conditions on the ground in order to make the first five designated areas to be continuously known for the excellent environment for pedestrians and to become the role models for other areas that will be selected in the future as well. It also plans to discover diverse areas to be designated as Pedestrian Environment Improvement District based on each area’s unique conditions, and will select and manage at least 2 places every year.