President Lee Myung-bak yesterday praised the benefits of bicycling on the country, urging a national era of bicycles.
In a radio address broadcast live nationwide yesterday, he said, Bringing about a green revolution in our daily lives is the spirit of the times. Reinstating carbon-free bicycles as a major means of transportation is a must.
Bicycles go faster when we pedal faster. In the same context, we must achieve an era of bicycles as soon as possible.
He also said, By 2012, when the project to revitalize the nations four major rivers will end, the combined length of bicycle paths will reach 2,000 kilometers along the Han, Nakdong, Geum and Yeongsan rivers.
The satisfaction one gets from bicycling is quite different from that received from driving a car. There is a certain art and beauty in going slow.
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon, an outspoken fan of bicycling, always lists five benefits of the activity: better health, lighter traffic, less parking trouble, better air quality and energy conservation.
Bicycling has risen as an important agenda for the president and citizens alike. The government has emphasized achieving green growth by encouraging more bicycling, and civic interest in bicycling to work has risen.
Korea, however, is still far off from turning into a bikers paradise. Bicycles account for 1.2 percent of transportation, a far cry from the rates in European countries such as the Netherlands (27 percent) and Germany (10 percent) and also neighboring Japan (14 percent).
Koreas bicycle infrastructure such as paths and parking is also insufficient, and regulations and institutions hardly favor of bikers, either.
On the government plan to build a nationwide bicycle path network of 3,114 kilometers by 2018, chief researcher Baek Nam-cheol of the Korea Institute of Construction Technology said, Building infrastructure such as bicycle paths is important, but equally important is to raise awareness on bicycle culture.
In response to rising interest in bicycling, The Dong-A Ilbo will take a closer look at bicycling in Korea and that in countries with an advanced bicycling culture such as Japan and France in an upcoming three-part series.