By Park Si-soo
Cyclists will be able to use the subway with their bicycles from as early as October.
Seoul City has been seeking to designate two subway cars at the front and rear as exclusive carriages for bicycles.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government said Sunday that it has been working on the introduction of bicycle-only cars with Seoul Metro, the operator of subway lines Nos. 1 to 4, and Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corporation, which operates lines Nos. 5 to 8.
``From October, a total of 16 trains, two from each line, will run with two bike-only cars,'' a city official said. ``For the first three months, the special carriages will be available only on Sundays and holidays, excluding Saturday. It will be available on weekdays from April next year.''
But the carriages will not be available during rush hour times, with further details to be fixed at a later date.
Equipment to assist cyclist is to be installed, while some passenger seats will be removed.
``If the plan is confirmed, stations in Seoul will widen their entrances and install bike-only lifts linking gateways and platforms,'' the official said.
The initiative is in line with the government's recent campaign to promote the use of bicycles in a bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The government has unveiled a series of bicycle-friendly targets, including the paving of 3,100 kilometers of bike paths across the country over the next decade, building bike-only lanes on major roads and introducing an insurance policy for cyclists.
The government also plans to host an annual international cycle race, dubbed ``Tour de Korea,'' from 2012.
President Lee Myung-bak recently said, ``Bringing back pollution-free bicycles as a key means of transportation is a path we must take."