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New book explores Suwon’s historic car-free experiment

A section of Suwon, South Korea banned cars for a month in 2013, transforming streets into playgrounds. (ICLEI)

For one month in September 2013, traffic disappeared from a section of Suwon, South Korea. Teresa Deckert reports for The Pop-Up City that this unusual urban experiment has spawned a new book: Neighborhood In Motion: One Neighborhood, One Month, No Cars.

Authors Konrad Otto-Zimmermann and Yeonhee Park examine the impact of the ban on the 4,300 residents in the auto-free zone. They were forced to rely on alternatives such as walking, cycling and public transit. (While 1,500 cars registered to locals were prohibited, it appears that car-sharing services were allowed).

The book documents the neighborhood’s evolution during the respite from vehicles. Cafes extended outdoor seating to the curb, children played safely in streets, and roads doubled as evening badminton courts.

The month-long experiment was inspired by a conference and festival on EcoMobility. Deckert writes that the goal was to build awareness about reliance on fossil fuels and encourage people to transition to cleaner forms of transport. 

The Pop-Up City

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