Monday, January 08, 2007

Cheongyecheon

Reminded by this article in the M&G.
Just more than a year ago several million people headed to a park in the centre of Seoul, the capital of South Korea and seventh-largest city in the world. They didn't go for a rock festival, a football match or a political gathering, but mostly just to marvel at the surroundings, to get some fresh air and to paddle in the river.

The tale of reclaiming the 160,000 car a day freeway and returning it to the Cheong Gye Stream or Cheongyecheon in Seoul is both heartening in its boldness and rousing in its result.

As seen by this picture I took in September it is a place where all and sundry of Seoul's citizens and tourists frolic and enjoy the break from their daily routine.
Read the
wikipedia article or a good old Google search (did I just call google old?) for the full story.
While some have criticised the project as being an expensive ($900m) symbolic folly the level of enthusiasm that still embraces the project a year after its completion and the pride that the South Korean people display when discussing and using the river is for me sufficient justification. The fact that a freeway and underground sewer has been converted/restored to open river and park is an inspirational triumph over industrialisation. It also felt safe enough to walk along (alone & and well before dawn) – but that’s probably just to me.

It is also fascinating physical example of the
Braess Paradox . This paradox indicates that by removing space in a road network you can actually increase the flow of traffic, and, by implication, by adding extra capacity to a road network you can reduce overall performance.
I wonder if we could intelligently apply this to Jozi traffic. Would the closing of Witkoppen Road improve the traffic flow? Sounds counterintuitive doesn’t it but if you read the Braess link above and follow the theory then perhaps it would make a positive difference?

And I can think of a good freeway in Port Elizabeth to get rid of.

And a railway line and road in Fish Hoek.....

3 comments:

VallyP said...

Oh yes, Guy! That freeway in PE is such an eyesore the coastal road could be so lovely, and while we're about it, I remember when Witkoppen |Road was more or less a country lane, so let's close it to traffic and make it a horse trail..lol. We could close William Nicol drive too. That would be fun! ;-)

PS Re your comment on my blog, you are very perceptive...Watery Ways is in planning....Watch my space in a month or so if you're curious about life in the low-and-wet-lands. Thanks Guy.

VallyP said...

PS. Am charmed and fascinated by what they've done in Seoul. That takes courage and vision in a city with that level of overcrowding!

ATW said...

Val, Looking forward for the tales of your adventures when they appear.