Bucheon, South Korea Shines with its People-Friendly Vision

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Katy Lang Tweet Us @walkarlington@walkarlington July 15, 2019

Katy Lang is the Program Director for Active Transportation. She started living car-free in Arlington in 2010 and is passionate about finding great running routes and safety for people walking and biking.

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Bucheon’s people-friendly and age-friendly transportation policies make it a worldwide example of urban design and livability.

Just like many cities worldwide, Bucheon, South Korea experienced increasing traffic congestion and car-centric design during the 1970s and 1980s. Bucheon is a satellite city of Seoul located in the Gyeonggi Province, and is the second most densely populated city in South Korea. The city is a cultural center and has three universities, hundreds of libraries, theatres, and many museums.

By 2010, traffic congestion and walking conditions became so poor in Bucheon that the city switched gears and implemented a dramatic people-friendly and “ecomobile” transportation policy with four main goals:

  1. Improve walkability
  2. Create green networks and urban forest
  3. Expand cycling paths
  4. Increase the use of public transportation

Bucheon also embarked on a journey to improve its age-friendliness with the goal of building up an active urban environment for all to age comfortably and safely. It became a World Health Organization-designated Age-Friendly City in 2018.

Improving walkability

Bucheon leveraged its library network to create destinations for walking—after all, destinations and comfortable journeys to those destinations are what prompt us to walk. Now, Bucheon boasts street book cafes, 40% more green space around libraries, and better access to knowledge for its residents. Its age-friendly initiative aims to improve the walking environment by building a “road to walk” and enhancing park facilities.

Creating urban forests

We know that access to green space is important for residents’ health and quality of life. Bucheon developed community gardens, organized a healing forest, designed a network of trees, and restored the Simgokcheon Stream which had been previously covered over by pavement.

Improving public transportation

To increase walking and reduce traffic congestion from car trips, it isn’t enough to build walking paths—improving transit is an important element of a walkable environment. Bucheon has opened new subway stations and developed community squares with cultural performances at three of its stations.

Thanks to its transportation policy, its age-friendly initiatives, and its focus on sustainable design, Bucheon has won 135 planning and sustainability awards since 2017.

Bringing Bucheon’s walkability to Arlington

Like Bucheon, Arlington is an age-friendly community that is known for its walkability.

Photo Credit:

Sam Kittner/Kittner.com

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