Seoul-ful cyclists in South Korea




A typical city scene in Seoul, South Korea.

Credit: Wikimedia/Johannes Barre

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SEOUL: The Seoul city government plans to build 207 kilometres of cycle paths over the next four years extending to all corners of the South Korean capital, officials said on Wednesday.

The 120 billion won ($88million) plan is based on a "road diet" program, under which the number of lanes for passenger vehicles in major roads will be cut to create new cycle paths.

It calls for the construction of 17 main cycle paths totaling 200 kilometres that criss-cross the sprawling city and one downtown seven-kilometre beltway.

"Any urban areas where commuters only rely on vehicles burning fuel cannot avoid blame for global warming and traffic congestion," Seoul City Mayor Oh Se-Hoon said on the city government's website.

"We will make sure that bicycles will compete with vehicles for commuting in Seoul," said Oh, who rides his bicycle to work every day.

Only 1.6 per cent of all commuters use bicycles in Seoul, partly due to a lack of dedicated paths. The city government wants to increase this to 4.4 per cent in 2012, 7.6 per cent in 2016, and 10 percent in 2020.

The city will also construct bicycle parks at 16 subway stations - complete with shower rooms and lockers for cyclists before they transit to the subway.