SEOUL / Walkability to Promote Image of a Democratic Government: Government Responses
The idea of “pedestrian priority” spread fast after the walking festival in 1993. Experts including young urban designers and traffic experts became interested in this new concept and tried to introduce various policies from other nations. Small-scale campaign eventually affected the Korean society as a whole.
Result of the campaigns were reflected in policies and public administration starting in 1995. The major daily newspaper Dong-a Ilbo featured the article, “Plans for Seoul’s Symbolic Street, National Central Street” with “Pedestrian Rights Secured as Best as Possible” as the headline.
Enactment of Pedestrian Ordinance
On February 27 of 1996, the first forum for Creating Walkable Seoul was held at the Seoul Development Institute. Group of experts, Seoul City officials, and the Seoul Metropolitan Council led by civic organizations joined together to discuss possible ways to restore pedestrian rights and improve pedestrian environment. After several rounds of discussion, they reached a consensus on necessity of enactment a pedestrian ordinance.
The whole year was spent on preparation and finalization for the pedestrian ordinance. The workshop ended with a launch celebration where they announced the enactment of the pedestrian ordinance. 1996 was a period of local autonomy system restoration, which means constraints on enacting ordinance for local governments. However, they reached the conclusion that the enactment of pedestrian ordinance should not be under constraints as it represented the duty of government to respect pedestrian rights and also public wish. The Pedestrian Ordinance Enactment officially took effect from January 15, 1997, with full name “the Seoul Metropolitan Government Framework Ordinance on Securing of Pedestrians’ Rights and the Improvement of the Pedestrian Environment”.
First Five-year plans
After enactment of the Seoul Pedestrian Ordinance, they started drawing up five-year plans and yearly action plans on future improvement of pedestrian environment. The first Basic Plan for the Pedestrian Environment was completed in 1998. GOH Kun, who was elected Mayor in 1998, pushed the Project for Creating Walkable Seoul for four years in accordance with the plan.
In the first five-year plan, there are ten projects planned in total based on four principle: improvement of pedestrian environment of streets, improvement of pedestrian environment relating to public transportation, expansion of pleasant pedestrian areas, and improvement of pedestrians environment specially for physical disabled.
From 1998 to 2002 the Walkable Seoul Project accomplished many tangible achievements. Number of car-free streets in Seoul increased a lot. Several streets, including Jeongdong Street, Insadong Street, Gogung Street, Myeongdong Street, and Daehang Road were turned into pedestrian streets and referred to as “history and culture trails.” Many roads that had been dug up for subway construction were restored with the pedestrian environment; crosswalks that had been removed with the opening of subway stations were re-installed. Among the four crosswalks installed in the Sejong Road intersection, the two north-south crosswalks were installed in 1999. Two crosswalks were installed at the three-way intersection in front of the Seoul Arts Center in 2000 in addition to the existing underpass.