From Using New Technology to Creating Innovative Skywalks, Ten Asia-Pacific Cities Face Congestion Issues Head-On

New ULI/CLC report presents ten cities implementing bold plans to improve urban mobility

For more information, contact Christina Tsao at +852 2586 7855 or christina.tsao@bluecurrentgroup.com

SINGAPORE (June 6, 2017) As inner-city congestion increases owing to populations rise, a new publication from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC) sets out how 10 cities in Asia-Pacific are developing solutions to this pressing challenge. Urban Mobility: 10 Cities Leading the Way in Asia Pacific was launched today at the 2017 ULI Asia-Pacific Summit in Singapore.

The report analyses each city’s strategic plans and bold implementation of mobility projects. The ten cities in the report are

  • Seoul, South Korea;
  • Shanghai, China;
  • Singapore;
  • Suwon, South Korea;
  • Taipei, Taiwan;
  • Tokyo, Japan;
  • Bandung, Indonesia;
  • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam;
  • Sydney, Australia and
  • Yangon,

While each of these 10 cities has its own set of problems, they all share a common goal: to establish a sustainable mobility system. The benefits of such a system are diverse: reduced congestion and stress, improved quality of the environment, healthier choices and expanded development opportunities, which will enhance the lives of the people, both physically and mentally.

As the fourth publication in a series championing a continual push towards a sustainable and healthy future, the report hopes to inspire citizens, city leaders and professionals to develop solutions to the challenges faced by their own cities, by being mindful of their unique resources, capabilities and needs. This is the third initiative that ULI has worked on together with CLC, with the other two being defining 10 Principles for Liveable High-Density Cities and producing a report on Creating Healthy Places through Active Mobility. In 2016, the two organizations completed a piece of research on Creating Liveable Cities through Car-Lite Urban Mobility, which proposed practical recommendations on moving cities towards a more sustainable mobility future with reference to the city-state.

“Healthy practices lie at the heart of thriving cities. The way we shape and connect our spaces can have far-reaching impacts on our communities and the ten cities that we have studied in detail are creating real social change,” said Scott Dunn, the project co-lead, Vice President for Southeast Asia at AECOM and former ULI Singapore chairman.

Limin Hee, Director of Research at CLC and the other project-co lead, said: “These ten cities face different challenges but they have one thing in common: they are all coming up with innovative ways to face the urban mobility challenges of today. On top of altering established infrastructure, greater difficulty lies in changing urban cultures and mindsets.”

Highlights from the report:

In Singapore, a robust system of integrated land use and transport planning has been developed. However, the challenge of accommodating a growing population on limited land has necessitated a shift in focus towards more space-efficient modes of transportation.

Solution: By rolling out incentives for people to take public transport and embrace new forms of transportation such as personal mobility devices (PMDs), the city hopes to create an environment that is conducive to sustainable urban transport.

Folding bikes and PMDs are now allowed on public trains and buses all day, and there are now numerous bike-sharing services. As of 2016, property developers are also required to submit a Walking and Cycling Plan as part of their Development Applications to the government.

Result: Public transport usage now makes up 66% of all peak-hour journeys. A variety of transport forms—including ride-share services from Uber and Grab, as well as PMDs—are now a common sight on Singapore’s roads.

In Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, the population quadrupled over the past four decades while the number of cars grew fiftyfold. In Yonsei-ro, a popular commercial street in Sinchon district where several major universities are located, the average travel speed in 2013 was only 10 km/h – far slower than the average of 25 km/h on Seoul’s main roads. Pedestrians were also confined to narrow sidewalks, causing crowding in the streets.

Solution: The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) implemented two car-free days on Yonsei-ro, during which data was collected to help planners fully analyse the impact of vehicle restrictions. The results indicated that vehicles travelling north to south were successfully redirected across nearby roads, but a detour had to be identified for vehicles going in the opposite direction. After a lengthy consultative process, Yonsei-ro was transformed into Seoul’s first public transportation-only zone, benefitting all stakeholders.

Result: A transit mall was completed in January 2014, and the benefits were almost immediate – traffic accidents fell by 34% just six months after the opening, and there was an 11% increase in the number of visitors using public transport. The transit mall also raked in apparent financial benefits. As compared with 2013, the number of shoppers in Sinchon increased by 29%, resulting in a rise of 4% in total revenues. This pedestrian-friendly solution helped to prevent worsening congestion within the area surrounding the transit mall, showing that traffic impact need not be a deal-breaker.

In Bandung, Indonesia, only 20% of the Greater Bandung population were using public transport facilities. The city’s hilly topography also limited mobility options for residents while vendors lined the streets in the shopping district of Jalan Cihampelas, causing traffic congestion.

Solution: City planners needed to provide infrastructure to support businesses and promote a safe environment for shoppers. Therefore, an innovative Skywalk was built to relocate street vendors and provide an accessible and safe shopping space for visitors in the city centre. Opened in February 2017, the elevated deck allows visitors to walk from the nearby zoo to Jalan Cihampelas without having to enter the congested city centre. At the same time, a centralised car park was constructed outside the city centre to discourage driving into Jalan Cihampelas.

Result: Pedestrians can now stroll freely and safely on the skywalk, away from traffic. The 450-metre-long elevated deck has space for close to 200 street vendors offering food and a wide array of goods. There is a bolder plan to build Bandung Skywalk, a series of bridges and skywalks across the city, creating better connectivity over the hilly terrain. The administration recognised that urban mobility extends beyond moving people around by machines or cars – it is also beneficial to offer people a range of travel options. The Skywalk plan essentially focuses on walking as the more attractive option, by allowing people to walk safely in the city without having to cross busy traffic intersections.

About the Urban Land Institute

The Urban Land Institute is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the institute has more than 40,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines, including more than 2,000 in Asia. For more information, please visit uli.org or follow us on Twitter.

About the Centre for Liveable Cities

Set up in 2008 by the Ministry of National Development and the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, the Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC) has as its mission “to distil, create and share knowledge on liveable and sustainable cities”. CLC’s work spans four main areas – Research, Capability Development, Knowledge Platforms, and Advisory. Through these activities, CLC hopes to provide urban leaders and practitioners with the knowledge and support needed to make our cities better. For more information, visit www.clc.gov.sg or follow us on Facebook (www.fb.com/CLCsg).

Appendix: Challenges and Solutions of the 10 Cities Detailed in the Report:

City Challenge Solution
Seoul, South Korea The population quadrupled over the past four decades while the number of cars grew fiftyfold.

Pedestrians were also confined to narrow sidewalks, causing crowding in the streets.

The SMG implemented two car-free days in Yonsei-ro, which was to be transformed into a transit mall, so that data collected during the car-free days could be used by planners to fully analyse the impact of vehicle restrictions.
Shanghai, China

 

A growing preference for private car ownership due to increasing affluence and a corresponding high amount of road space dedicated to cars. A shift in the city’s focus from engineering priorities and road traffic towards the design of spaces and the environment to encourage pedestrian activity.
Singapore Accommodating a growing population on limited land has necessitated a shift in focus towards more space-efficient modes of transportation. Incentives have been rolled out for people to take public transport and embrace new forms of transportation. To solve first- and last- mile connectivity, foldable bikes and PMDs are now allowed on public trains and buses all day; numerous bike-sharing services are also available island-wide.
Suwon, South Korea Cars filled its streets and alleys; the area was home to only 4,300 residents, yet there were 1,500 cars registered. Month-long EcoMobility Festival: residents explored a futuristic scenario of a car-free urban neighbourhood.
Taipei, Taiwan Motor vehicles on the roads also contributed to environmental problems, causing severe health issues that burdened the healthcare system. The city government first reviewed and rationalised car usage fees. Next, the government developed a world-class cycling environment and a public bike-sharing scheme.
Tokyo, Japan Increasing concentration of people in the city centre, where people gather for work and recreation Connectivity was improved by linking underground walkways into networks. These walkways were widened, some even doubled in width, to accommodate the increasing human traffic.
Bandung, Indonesia The city’s hilly topography limited mobility options for residents while vendors lined the streets in the shopping district of Jalan Cihampelas, causing traffic congestion. Provide infrastructure to support businesses and promote a safe environment for shoppers.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Pedestrian walkways are often congested due to poorly regulated motorcycle parking and every day, there are road traffic deaths HCMC has an ambitious plan to build an efficient and integrated public transport system that includes an extensive rail and bus rapid transit network.
Sydney, Australia Congestion problem From 2019, a 1.2 km stretch of street will reopen as a pedestrian-only boulevard with light rail as the main form of transport.
Yangon, Myanmar People spend hours each day travelling on heavily congested streets. A lack of planning and government funding led to poor road infrastructure and an overstretched public transport system. The Project for Comprehensive Urban Transport Plan for Greater Yangon (YUTRA) was formed in 2013 to tackle the city’s traffic woes. It details long term plans to improve the city’s roads, railway and bus system.

 

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