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Towards more sustainable urban mobility patterns

By on 09/07/2011
Towards more sustainable urban mobility patterns

CheongGyeCheon Restoration Project in Seoul where express highways covering a stream were removed, reclaiming the stream as public space © Y.Kunz, UN-Habitat

A one week training on urban mobility was recently held in Korea targeting Asian cities.

The seven day training on “Sustainable Urban Mobility” in Asian cities was held at the International Urban Training Centre in Gangwon Province, Korea from 21 September to 27 September 2011. The training was jointly organized by UN-Habitat, the International Urban Training Centre in Gangwon Province and the Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). Transport planners, representatives from research institutions and local governments from nine countries attended, among them countries as diverse as Pakistan, Mongolia, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Nepal, discussed issues centring public transport and non-motorized transport improvement strategies.

Asian cities were for a long time ‘walking cities’: destinations not further than 30 min travelling distance were the norm ensuring accessibility for pedestrians. In the “motor age” urban centres in Asia expanded, unfortunately often without effective planning. Congestion, air pollution and high numbers of road accidents, a lack of quality public transport services as well as an insufficient non-motorized infrastructure have been the consequences and the dominating characteristics of the urban transport situation in many Asian cities today.

Experiences gathered during the training showed that coherent transport policies and effective transport institutions capable of implementing these policies are needed to move towards more sustainable urban mobility patterns. Furthermore, the improvement of public transport services needs to be accompanied by non-motorized transport infrastructure and public spaces for more livable cities. Approaches addressing urban transport challenges need long-term commitment since ad-hoc interventions as experienced in many Asian cities do not improve the situation.

Presentations on best practices from the Republic of Korea outlining strategies for eco-friendly transport policies, transit oriented development and public bike sharing systems complemented the substantive part of the training course.

Experiencing Seoul’s public transport and non-motorized transport infrastructure during a field trip further inspired the participants to develop transport visions for their towns. Motivated by a wide range of good examples from the Republic of Korea and other Asian cities the participants returned to their countries, ambitious to work towards more sustainable transport patterns.

As a follow-up activity of this training participants have the opportunity to exchange challenges faced or success achieved using the Global Energy Network for Urban Settlements on the Urban Gateway as an online exchange platform

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