Two years ago, the Haenggung-dong neighborhood in the South Korean city of Suwon embarked on a unique urban experiment: all cars were taken off the road for one month. The phenomenon was part of the Ecomobility Festival, a project that aims to popularize a new urban transportation based on a low-carbon energy supply.
The planning process for this radical experiment took nearly two years and finally was implemented in September 2013. During this entire month the neighborhood transformed completely: 1,500 cars were moved to parking lots elsewhere in the city, 400 temporary bikes and electric scooters were handed out to neighbors, mail was delivered by electric vehicles and a bike school was set up to teach the many residents who didn’t know how to ride.
The results? The neighborhood offered a higher quality of life due to less smog and more possibilities to use public spaces. If before the experiment many people were pulling up their cars on sidewalks to park in front of shops while they ran errands, during it cafés were able to extend their seating onto the sidewalk, children were able to play in the streets safely and people started to play nightly games of badminton in the streets.
The neighborhood before the Ecomobility Festival:
And during it:
After the experiment ended things however didn’t return to their original state: the sidewalks on major streets were widened, new pocket parks were added and the speed limit was cut nearly in half, to about 18 miles per hour.
Ecomobility Festival gain lot of attention from all over the world and was documented in a new book called Neighborhood in Motion: One Month, One Neighborhood, No Cars. Moreover, in October this year the experiment will be repeated in Johannesburg, South Africa.
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