By Kang Shin-who
Seoul Metropolitan City plans to set up more bicycle-only roads to encourage citizens and travelers to use eco-friendly forms of transport. The plan is part of the city's free bicycle scheme, which is similar to Paris' Velib.
Earlier in August, the city government announced it will install bike stations in various places around the city in much the same way as Paris is doing now. The French city has bike stations every 300 meters with about 20,000 public bicycles in order to reduced traffic jams and lessen environmental pollution.
A problem confronting Seoul, however, is that the city lacks road infrastructure and related transportation law to guarantee the efficient operation of the free bicycle project.
In order to secure the safety of bike riders, the city will expand the current 55-kilometer bike-only road length to up to 360 kilometers by 2010. For the plan, it will divide the city into five areas and invest 21.8 billion won to set up 45 bike-only roads.
A total of 24 billion won will be allotted to enable bike riders to safely travel between southern and northern Seoul. The bike-friendly project will also link Seoul city to other neighboring cities such as Guri City and Hanam City in Gyeonggi Province by 2009.
``Although the infrastructure construction is expensive, it will bring more benefits to the metropolitan city and its citizens by promoting the eco-friendly transportation,'' a Seoul city spokesman said. ``Bicycle-friendly communities will make people feel safer and more comfortable while riding their bikes for purposes of both fitness and transportation. With more Seoulities bicycling, we can experience reduced traffic demands, improved air quality and greater physical fitness,'' he said.
In addition, the city government will introduce insurance products for bicycle riders under close cooperation with the domestic insurance industry as well as revise Transportation Law involving a bicycle. The city also will invite more ideas to better design Seoul’s version of Velib.