Pedestrian crossings are important to establishing pedestrian-friendly environment. They can interlink living spaces that are cut off by roads, narrow and wide, in many different areas. Only when pedestrians can freely move around, then can a city fulfill its functions fully. The foremost requirement for creating a pedestrian-centered traffic environment is to increase the number of pedestrian crossings.
The government revised executive ordinances of the Road Traffic Act in November 2016 to make it possible to reduce the distance between pedestrian crossings on the road in residential areas from 200 meters to 100 meters. This has led more crosswalks on the road in highly populated residential areas. It means that ensuring pedestrians cross the street safely is more important than increasing the speed of vehicle traffic.
Traffic policy in the past was focused on seamless vehicle traffic. The same held true with urban planning policy, and as a result, a large number of pedestrians overpasses and underground passages were constructed. However, policy focus has completely changed recently. More pedestrian crossings have been placed not only in residential regions but also on main roads and smaller thoroughfares. In major cities including Seoul, Busan, Incheon and Daejeon, pedestrian crossings have been placed on bus stops on both sides of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) installed on the median of the road.
In some sections on Gangnam-daero and Cheonho-daero in Seoul, the distance between two pedestrian crossings is only about 40 meters. This lowers vehicle traffic speed but enables pedestrians to walk more safely and conveniently.
In January, the government announced a general traffic safety plan to strengthen safety measures related to vehicles passing through pedestrian crossings with no traffic light. The plan revises the current regulation that requires vehicles to stop temporarily only when a pedestrian is crossing. The new rule thus requires vehicles to temporarily stop when pedestrians are just poised to cross the pedestrian crossing as well. Notably, at the pedestrian crossing in school zones for children and silver zone for the elderly, the rule obliges motorists to unconditionally stop at pedestrians crossing irrespective of whether pedestrian exists.
Hyung-Seok Seo email@example.com