|Environmental activists in green capes bike along color-coded lanes for bikes next to cars by Cheonggye Stream in downtown Seoul, Sept. 18. / Yonhap|
By Lee Suh-yoon
In line with its plans to cut vehicle emissions in downtown Seoul, the city government is laying out new bike lanes inside its Green Transport Promotion Zone.
On Wednesday, the city announced it would finish building raised bike paths on a 2.6-kilometer section of Toegye-ro stretching between Hoehyeon Station to Dongdaemun History and Culture Park by May next year. The first section, between Hoehyeon Station and Toegye-ro 2-ga, was finished in 2018.
Toegye-ro cuts east-west through the Green Transport Zone, designated in March 2017. The 16.7-square-kilometer area within the old Joseon Kingdom fortress walls is supposed to cut the city's vehicle traffic volume by 30 percent by 2030.
To make space for the new bike paths, two to three car lanes will be trimmed down from Toegye-ro to expand the pavement width to around 6 meters.
Four new Ttareungyi stations, the city's app-based rental bike service, will be set up along the new path.
The plan doesn't end here. Another 4 kilometers of roads running parallel or perpendicular to Toegye-ro inside the Green Transport Promotion Zone will undergo a similar transformation starting next year. By 2025, the project will spread to the rest of the green zone including Jongno, Anguk-dong and the Independence Gate area.
To make up for the "road diet," three to four new bus lines will be created inside the Green Transport Promotion Zone to make it easier for citizens to take public transportation instead of private cars.
Next year, the city will start drafting similar plans that connect areas outside the green zone ― such as Yeouido and Gangnam ― to the Han River. The city said the Han River has pre-existing bike lanes along its riverbanks and can serve as an effective connection node between the northern and southern halves of the city.
"Currently, downtown Seoul is equipped with a basic pedestrian and cycling infrastructure thanks to diverse policy initiatives, but there is still plenty of room for improvement for the city as a whole," Hwang Bo-yeon, head of the city's urban transport division, said in a statement.