Seoul City to improve walking environment
By Kim Rahn
Seoul City will ban work to change paving stones during winter and crack down on illegal parking or motorcycle riding on sidewalks as part of efforts to offer a more pleasant walking environment.
Mayor Park Won-soon announced a set of measures Wednesday to enforce citizens’ right to walk and to spend tax money more efficiently.
Local authorities change paving stones at the end of almost every year, as they can get the same or a larger budget from the government the following year by spending the remainder of the current year’s budget. In line with Park’s inaugural pledges, he said this will no longer continue.
“Citizens have been stressed by sidewalk construction at the end of every year. Motorbikes ride on footpaths, threatening pedestrians’ safety, while merchants display their goods and clutter sidewalks. This practice should come to an end as it inconveniences and frustrates people,” he said in a media briefing at City Hall.
Except for emergency cases, road work to change paving stones will be prohibited after November. “The plan aims to prevent local authorities from wasting any remaining budget. It is also because construction on frozen ground is likely to lead to faulty work,” Park said.
Along the same vein, parking on sidewalks or motorcycles weaving through pedestrians are reasons for paving stone damage. The city is discussing with police the plan to raise fines to 80,000 won from the current 40,000 won for doing either.
Constructors responsible for faulty work will not be able to bid for the city’s pavement projects for the next two years. Cars or citizens caught breaking paving stones will have to pay the repair expense instead of the local authorities.
Citizens will be encouraged to report damaged paving stones to the city government at www.fixmystreet.kr.
“Illegal parking or piling up of goods in front of stores is a matter of citizens’ attitude. Direct participation by citizens will make the measures more effective,” Park said.