– From January 6 (Mon), Sinchon Yonsei-ro Public Transport-only Area was opened to the public
– The district will help foster pedestrian safety first’ culture and expected to improve air quality
– The renewal of the district will provide a momentum for local culture and economy revival, revitalizing the city as a whole.”
On January 6 ‘Sinchon Yonsei-ro’ reopened to the public after having been reconstructed as the first ‘Public Transport-only Area’ in Seoul. The district has been completely renewed as a walkable street, which is a marked contrast from the past when the street was entangled with pedestrians and vehicles amidst acute traffic congestion.
City Transportation Headquarters of the Seoul metropolitan government announced that from January, 6th (Mon), the repair-construction to turn ‘Sinchon Yonsei-ro’ into the ‘Public Transport-only Area’ was completed, and from the noon on the Monday, 11 intra-city bus lines and 3 shuttle bus lines started operation in the 550m street, which spans from Sinchon Subway station to the main gate of Yonsei University.
As ‘Sinchon Yonsei-ro’ becomes a ‘Public Transport-only area’, the street will be opened to only pedestrians, vehicles with more than 16 passengers, emergency vehicles and bicycles. To put the safety of a pedestrian first, the ‘Zone 30’ rule is imposed, making it mandatory for all vehicles including buses to keep the 30km/h speed limit.
In the past, the road’s width was about 3 to 4 meter, but because of many stumbling blocks, only 1 to 2 meter was practically available for pedestrians. After the renewal, the road is widened up to 8 meter. All kinds of clutters on the road have been cleared, making a comfortable space for pedestrians to walk.
The idea to turn a street into a pedestrian-friendly area dates back to 2012, when mayor Park Won Soon was visiting Latin America countries. During his visit to Curitiba, Brazil, Park was deeply impressed by the city’s pedestrian-oriented streets and hatched an idea to transform Seoul into a pedestrian-friendly city.
Since then, Seoul city government devised a plan to make ‘Public Transport-only Area’ where only public transit and pedestrians are allowed to pass. 10 areas were listed as proposed sites. After taking stock of critical traits of the sites, including the number of a floating population, the state of commercial facilities and public transportation, and public recognition, the city government decided ‘Sinchon Yonsei-ro’ would be best suited for the first public transport-only area.
With the catchphrase, ‘Walkable, Enjoyable, Dream-able Street’ for ‘Sinchon Yonsei-ro Public Transport-only Area’, the city government will offer active support to revive the commercial district and continue to improve the transportation environment of the district which enjoyed a brief cultural and economic boom in the1990s.
Seoul government expects that building of the public transport-only area will produce numerous positive effects including; the city will be reinvigorated as the culture and economy is revitalized, ‘pedestrian safety first’ culture will be fostered, and the air quality of the district will be improved as well.
When the unique culture of a district is vitalized, it naturally attracts more visitors, which ultimately revive the local economy. With that in mind, Seoul government plans to first turn ‘Yonsei-ro’ as an area where civic-led culture blossoms.
In particular, rather than filling up the place for concerts with city government-led programs, the city government decided to open the space for the public so that anyone who wants to hold a concert or perform will be able to do so as in the Hongik Univ. district, without having to go through any cumbersome red-tape.
The renewal of the district as a public transport-only area is all the more meaningful for it demonstrates the city government’s long commitment and policy direction for the public transit-oriented city.
Yonsei-ro used to suffer from air pollution because of vehicle exhaust emissions, which was exacerbated by traffic congestion. With the district renewal as public transport-only area the air quality is expected to be improved as well.
The city government plans to remove all the unnecessary clutters on the pavement. In addition, to render the area more pleasant, 150 cherry trees will be planted alongside the pavement in Yonse-ro and Myeongmulgeori.
To minimize vehicle traffic, public bike program will be introduced and road parking lots will be removed. The area’s water usage will be improved as well through more efficient road water processing.
Seoul government will listen to the voices of citizens who frequent Yonsei-ro and local merchants who run shops on the street to reflect their opinions on the policy-making. The city government will also continue its monitoring to assess the effects of the public transport-only area.
Meanwhile, the city government plans to review other proposed sites to build second public transport-only area.
Mayor Park Won Soon said, “Sinchon Yonsei-ro Public Transport-only Area’ signals that Seoul’s project to become a walkable city has taken off. The area will offer a best case for revitalizing city where local cultural contents are created and distributed, and once stagnant local economy is revived.”