While browsing various blogs and websites this evening I have just discovered that a very well known city in Korea, known for it’s stunning Fortress, successfully turned itself into a “car-free zone” for the past month, proving that a truly ecomobile city – one where citizens can move freely, safely and sustainably – can actually exist.
Suwon has a population of a little over 1 million people and is situated about 30 minutes south of the bustling metropolis of Seoul. The crowded district of Haenggung-dong, one of the most crowded neighborhoods in Suwon, was successfully designated a car-free zone for the month of September. The 4300 residents were asked to relocate their cars and motorbikes (all 1,500 of them!!) to outside the “EcoMobile Village” for the month.
The city was also the location for the World Eco-Mobility Festival which attracted more than 310,000 visitors in the first 8 days alone! The festival, aimed to promote sustainable transport options, also “enabled international actors, united through mutual interest in sustainable transportation, to come together to share good practices and spark synergies in a setting that promotes creative collaboration, local initiatives, and the EcoMobility agenda.”
In order to get around residents were given access to an assortment of “clean transport” such various types of bicycles, Segway’s and other foot-powered means of transport.
In a country like Korea, where public transport is so incredible, I have never felt the need for a car and am very happy to cycle my bike, walk or take the subway to wherever it is I need to go. However, owning a car here (as with many Asian countries), seems to be more about maintaining you social status than actually needing it for transportation. I would love to see this initiative tried out in other South Korean cities, or even other cities around the world, to see how well they do.
I’m just sad that I’m only finding out about this now, or I would have taken the subway to Suwon and checked out the area (on foot of course!) for myself.