The Korean traffic and transport policy

Author: Ruud Ditewig, Movilization The Netherlands

Movilization and Korea

In 2010, 2011 and 2012 Movilization attended the Korean -  Netherlands joint seminars on bicyle policy as a key note speaker. These seminars has been organized by the Korean Transport Institute and the Embassy of The Netherlands in Seoul.

Towards an integrated green transportation system in Korea

After the Korean war in the fifties, the country was destroyed for a large part. The next decades, Korea has been rebuild the country. At the moment it’s one of the most important industrial and economic powers in the world.

For the past several years, the Korean Transport Institute (KOTI) has led the national efforts to develop green transport policies and technologies.
The overall theme in Korea is ‘Green Growth’. One of the leading cities is Gumi, an important industrial town in the south of Korea.

In his 2008 Independence Day speech President Lee said: ‘Although we fall behind in this era of challenges posed by excessive carbon emissions, we must step forward. It will be a difficult task. We will face distress and inconvience in our daily lives. If we have speed up the growth of into tech industry despite our belated industrialization, we can emerge as a Green nation if we act quickly and boldly’.

Since this speech, a great number of Korean cities are holding bicycle related seminars, in addition to executing relevant policies.

In 2010, the modal share of the bicycle in Korea is 1.2% (in cities like Sangju 21.6%, Seoul 4.6%, Daegu 4.3%). To promote the use of the bicycle, the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, has established a systematic development of bicycle policy:

• establishment of a bike road network at national level
• incorporation of the bike to public transport
• development of bike oriented cities

To reach this, the two most important measures are:

• improvement of law and institution
• improvement of infrastructure

The KOTI website contains several studies and publications.

Some examples of the Korean traffic and transport policy

Establishment of bike road network at national level. At the moment most of the bicycle infrastructure is recreational. But the coming years bicycle infrastructure for commuters will be build; mostly in cities but also a national bike-ways network is planned. Parking facilities are also important to promote the use of the bicycle. A good example is seen at the Incheon University. The basic concept for the national bicycle network consists of three steps: creation of a national basic network, creation of municipal networks and creation of a national network with close links to between cities. The objective of the project is to improve the quality of life, secure the safety of bicycle users and effectively support bicycle-related industries.

Incorporation of the bike to public transport. Large parts of the Seoul metro- and commuter rail network is accessible for cyclist. Metro and train cars have dedicated space for bicycles. Those are well signed. Stations have parking facilities for bicycles.

Incorporation of the bike to public transport. There will be public-bike systems developed. In the city of Goyang the public bike system opened in 2009. The operation schematic of this system: bike rental/return using Smart card – bike station management through combined Control center – distribution of bikes as necessary via operation vehicle – customer service via Call Center – immediate maintenance and repair service. Cities like Changwon and Daejeon have also public bike systems. The bicycles are designed and produced by the Korean Samchully Bicycle Factory.

Development of bike oriented cities. One of the studies KOTI has been carried out is a study of Bike Rapid Transit. A network of high level bikeways in a tubular construction to enable high speed long distance travel in urban areas. BRT is faster than traditional bicycles, faster than public transport in the peak hours and allows medium and long distance movement using minimal energy consumption.

Development of bike oriented cities. One of the more common measures is the development of a bicycle network in new towns. The bicycle network will be connected to the public transport network. It also connects residential areas with industrial areas and recreational areas.

Development of bike oriented cities. In many cities, schoolzones have been created, to establish a safer environment for schoolchildren.

Development of bike oriented cities. The Cheonggyecheon stream in downtown Seoul was covered up with concrete over a 20 year period starting in 1958, and a 5.6 km-long, 16 m-wide elevated highway was completed in 1976.
The Seoul mayor, Lee Myung-bak initiated a project in 2003 to remove the elevated highway and restore the stream. To address the consequent traffic problem, the Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project Headquarters established traffic flow measures in the downtown section affected by the restoration work and coordinated changes in the downtown traffic system based on the research of the Cheonggyecheon Restoration Research Corps.
The stream was opened to the public in September 2005 and was lauded as a major success in urban renewal and beautification. The number of vehicles entering downtown Seoul has shown a decrease of 2.3%, with an increasing number of users of buses (by 1.4%) and subways (by 4.3% - daily average of 430,000 people) as a result of the demolition of the two heavily-used roads. The project resulted in a speeding-up in traffic around the city when the motorway was removed. This has been cited as a real-life example of Braess's paradox (states that adding extra capacity to a network when the moving entities selfishly choose their route, can in some cases reduce overall performance).