Near-lockdown mode in city as event nears

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Near-lockdown mode in city as event nears

There are many events that the South Korean government has been requesting its citizens to participate in for the G-20 Summit, but there is one thing they really don’t want citizens to do - drive their cars. The entire city will be in near-lockdown mode starting tomorrow, when the summit begins in southern Seoul. And with 32 world leaders and roughly 10,000 of their entourage staying in six hotels scattered throughout the city, traffic will be strictly controlled whenever anyone important decides to move about.

Simulations that Seoul police conducted show that traffic near COEX will start to significantly slow within 50 minutes of traffic control once the officials start moving. Within an hour and half, the entire Gangnam region will become packed with immobile cars and cars will still be moving slowly 12 hours after the traffic control is lifted.

In order to avoid the gridlock, these precautions have been put in place:

* Odd-even car policy - Although the policy isn’t mandatory, citizens with odd-number car plates can drive their vehicles on Thursday, while those with even-number car plates can do so on Friday. Along with this policy, Friday will be designated as a “no-car day,” when the main summit meeting is held in southern Seoul.

The government will put more buses on the streets and add more subway cars. Buses will arrive at 2 to 3 minute intervals during rush hour from 7 to 10 a.m. and 6 to 9 p.m.

* Traffic control - Starting Friday at 12:01 a.m., traffic around COEX will be controlled for 22 hours. Traffic on half of the 14-lane Yeongdongdae-ro and the 12-lane Teheran-ro will be restricted, along with the six-lane ASEM-ro and five-lane Bongeunsa-ro. One lane each for the last two streets will be open for residents.
* Later office and school starting times - Public servants will be required to show up for work by 10 a.m., an hour later than usual. Private companies are encouraged to designate later starting hours. Schools in four areas near COEX - Dongjak, Songpa, Seocho and Gangnam - will start classes at 10.
* Demonstrations - All protests and demonstrations are banned 5 kilometers (3.7 miles) from the summit venue.

By Kwon Ho []
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