SEOUL / Walkability to Promote Image of a Democratic Government: Poor pedestrian environment in the past
In the atmosphere of pursuing speed and convenience rather than safety and quality of life, Korea experienced a time with poor pedestrian environment – there was intersections without crosswalk, streets without sidewalks, too wide road with no refuge land, too short time for crossing road and lack of facilities for disabled access. Meanwhile, rapid increase in amount of vehicles from 1984 to 1991 led to increased fatalities caused by traffic accidents.
Report stated that in 1997 only 51.7 percent of intersections in Seoul had crosswalks in all directions. Below is a photo of a woman with baby stroller crossing a road near Sincheon Station without a crosswalk in 1996.
Another evidence of poor pedestrian environment in Seoul was the wide street with short crossing time and the absence of refuge land in the middle of the road. If we look at the satellite photo of street in San Francisco and in Seoul, you may see the fact that the road in Seoul is far wider than those in San Francisco. However, with such wide street, pedestrians were only provided with short crossing time and no refuge land. A survey conducted in 1995 by the Networks for Green Transport and Media Research showed that 79.5 percent of the participents criticized the fact that the green light began to flash when they cross one-third of the crosswalk.
These are all examples of Seoul being as a car-oriented city with and inhumane traffic operation and little consideration of people. As a result of awful pedestrian environment, the pedestrian traffic fatalities were very high in Seoul compare to other cities.
Cho, Junhan, Seok Jeong, Eun-hee Kim, In-seok Kim, Sam-jin Lim, Myo-hee Myeong, and Ki-ok So. Edited by Sam-jin Lim. Report no. 18. THE KOREA TRANSPORT INSTITUTE.
Kum, Ki Jung, and Hyun Jung Chung. Traffic Safety Education and Public Awareness Campaigns in South Korea.Report. Myongji University. 2014. http://www.iatss.or.jp/common/pdf/en/iatss/composition/FY2014_Report_KR_En.pdf.