• 폰트크기작게
  • 폰트크기크게
  • 단어장
  • SNS
2018-04-16 11:35
'Ride your bike to work'
Cyclists pass through Jongno street on the new bicycle lane, Sunday. / Yonhap

Seoul to expand bicycle network

By Jung Da-min

An exclusive lane for bicycles has been introduced in downtown Seoul.

Starting from the Sejong intersection in Gwanghwamun, the 1.5-meter-wide lane painted in red goes all the way to Dongdaemun via Jongno street, the main east-west road in the area. The entire lane is 2.6 kilometers long along the south side of the thoroughfare.

The lane is marked by yellow painted lines and lit by solar-powered LED lights after dark.

Vehicle drivers who cross the lines will be fined up to 60,000 won ($56.20) starting July, after a three-month guidance period.

The fines are 40,000 won for motorcycles, 50,000 won for cars and 60,000 won for vans and bigger vehicles.

The city also set up safety barriers separating the exclusive bicycle lane from car roads.

People who commute by bicycle say they feel much safer using the exclusive lane.

“There are bicycle priority roads in other districts, but the traffic conditions are dangerous,” said Lim Young-chun, who commutes from Yeongdeungpo Market south of the Han River to downtown.

“But the new bicycle lane is for cyclists only, and I feel much safer.”

Bicycle priority roads and bicycle exclusive lanes are not the same. Cyclists have legal priority on the former, but they are often exposed to threats from drivers.


A bicycle priority road (left) differs from a bicycle exclusive lane (right). Should motor vehicles cross the yellow line of the latter, their drivers will face up to 60,000 won in fines beginning in July. / Korea Times photo by Jung Da-min

The city lowered the speed limit on Jongno to 50km/h from 60km/h in late March, ahead of the introduction of the new bicycle lane.

Bicycle commuters on the Jongno lane say they not only feel more stable but also get to move faster.

“I avoided riding on Jongno before the lane was introduced because of the traffic congestion,” said Kim Han-kuk, who commutes from Seodaemun-gu to downtown. He used to ride his bike to work on car roads in the Cheonggye Stream area.

“Thanks to the exclusive lane, I can go to work faster without getting stuck.”

The Seoul Metropolitan Government will strengthen the monitoring system on traffic violations by installing CCTVs along the lane's length in July.

It is also considering introducing a system that will reward anyone who reports violations.

The introduction of the exclusive lane in Jongno is part of the city's plan to establish bicycle networks here.

In May, the city will add another along the north of Cheonggye Stream to complete a full ring-shaped bicycle lane.

It has been in talks with the area's street vendors to reshape the current bicycle-priority roads into a 900-meter-long bicycle and pedestrian road, and a 2.5km bicycle road.

The bicycle road will be on the left side of the road for cars.

Bicycle lanes and roads are normally on the right side of car roads.


The exclusive bicycle lane along Jongno is lit with solar-powered LEDs during the night. / Korea Times photo by Jung Da-min

This is for safety reasons, according to city officials.

“Alongside Cheonggye Stream, there are parking lots on both sides and many vendors load products from delivery vehicles,” said Kim Mi-jung, the director of the city's bicycle policy. “If we introduce the lane on the right side, cars and bicycles will collide.”

After completing the ring-shaped bicycle lane to enable riders to make round trips, the city will also connect the bicycle roads and lanes that are currently scattered around districts including Gangnam, Yeouido and downtown Seoul within this year.

When combined, the whole length of the new bicycle network would be 73 kilometers.

Seoul has 540 routes for bicycle roads and lanes with a total length of 869 kilometers as of 2016.

The length is shorter than that of other cities such as Daegu.

The central city of North Gyeongsang Province has 224 lanes totaling 885 km in length. The number of routes is less than half of those of Seoul but the length is slightly higher than that of the capital city.

“Seoul is not an ideal city to build bicycle lane networks because the space is insufficient,” Kim said.

“Construction in the city often poses risks due to aging underground facilities.”

To avoid this potential danger, the city is reducing the existing car roads to expand bicycle lanes as well as bus lanes.

It has been promoting its bicycle policy to encourage more commuters to ride bikes to work. This is also part of efforts to improve the environment.

The capital's bike-sharing system called Ttareungyi is now available in all districts in Seoul, with 1,290 spots where people can rent bicycles.

So far, over 620,000 members are registered for the bicycle network with bikes being rented out over 6.7 million times.

damin.jung@ktimes.com

  • 폰트크기작게
  • 폰트크기크게
  • 단어장
  • SNS