River paths perfect for leisurely pedalling
With fuel prices skyrocketing, energy bills are often opened with trepidation. For those who have decided to tighten their belts and spend less, driving a car is a definite no-no. In addition to the economic slowdown, environmental factors have affected our lifestyle, leading us to seek alternatives to gas-powered vehicles - electric cars come to mind. Following such trends, bicycles are getting increasingly popular in Korea. Bike riders get three benefits: they save energy, save money, and improve their health.
Luckily, you don’t have to travel outside the city to enjoy cycling. At little or no cost at all, you can rent a bike at numerous stops along the Han River and appreciate the beautiful green scenery that the city has to offer.
Here are some bike paths where you can enjoy the warm sunshine and feel the breath of spring while pedaling in Seoul.
Digital Media City bike paths
Digital Media City, located in Sangam-dong, western Seoul, is a high-tech media and cultural complex. The area around DMC was once a massive landfill but is currently being transformed into a digital-industry center that will accommodate various firms dedicated to film, music and information technology. The idea of an IT complex may evoke images of a hectic and chaotic urban landscape full of skyscrapers. But DMC is not only a lively modern metropolis, but also a pleasant weekend destination offering opportunities for relaxation at the nearby eco parks - including Sunset (Noeul) Park and Sky (Haneul) Park near World Cup Stadium - and artistic exploration at various exhibition halls.
For bikers, DMC boasts a network of well-paved bicycle paths that connect to five parks neighboring the Han River. Construction sites along the bike course are lined with protective screens that are embellished with pop-art paintings and sculptures, forming a street gallery called the Art Fence.
The artwork along the Art Fence were made from natural materials such as wood, plants and rocks, as well as high-tech materials including lighting, photography, holograms and LED screens.
DMC can be reached by going to Digital Media City Station, line No. 6, exit 2. Walk straight until you reach the first intersection and take a right. Walk straight for around 15 minutes and you will find the DMC Promotion Gallery on your right. Or take bus No. 7711 from the subway station.
Yeouido Dule-gil and Yeouido Saetgang Ecological Park
When people think about bicycling in Seoul, the first image that comes to mind might be a line of cyclists racing along the Han River. With more than a dozen parks, the Han plays a major role as an urban recreation hub with a number of soccer fields, tennis courts and, of course, bike paths. Those looking for quieter and environmentally friendly bike courses should check out Yeouido Dule-gil. (Dule refers to a beltway trail in Korean).
Yeouido Dule-gil connects Yeouido Hangang Park with Saetgang (Tributary) Ecological Park. This eight-kilometer bike path ushers riders to charming places like Water Light Square and a flag garden.
Many riders start off from Water Light Square. The fountain in the square is worth checking out before heading to Saetgang Ecological Park near Mapo Bridge. If you are lucky, you might be able to listen to a concert on the Floating Stage, the bubble-shaped performance space installed on the river.
Though it is surrounded by high-rise buildings, Saetgang Ecological Park is a hidden gem. This wetland area is a pleasant escape from urban life, providing tranquil and idyllic views along the scenic bicycle course. Take a break at the Folklore Stage, which offers traditional games such as neolttwigi (Korean see-saw) as well as wetlands and willow trees. After a bit more pedaling, you can relax on a wooden deck in a flag garden that contains a dozen species of aquatic plants, including irises, water lotuses, golden sweet flag, water parsley and reeds. Flocks of birds like spot-billed ducks often fly into the area, turning the garden into a center for ecological learning.
Most of the flowers will be in full bloom from May through July. The bicycle course ends overlooking Bam Island and a large grassy area in the waterfront observatory area.
The nearest bike rental stations to Water Light Square are found at the parks on the south sides of both the Mapo and Wonhyo bridges. Various types of bikes are available, including kids and tandem bikes.
Rental hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and bikes rental fees are priced between 3,000 and 6,000 won ($5.50), depending on the type of bike rented. For more information about bike rentals, call Hangang Park Headquarters at (02) 3780-0864.
If have your own bike and wish to go directly to Saetgang Ecological Park, get off at Yeouido Station, line No. 5, exit 1, or Saetgang Station, line No. 9, exit 4.
Bike theme parks
The circular bike course along the upper stream of the Han River boasts a variety of attractions, including river-view cafes, observation decks, fish paths and ecological parks.
This 15-kilometer-long course that connects Ttukseom Hangang Park with Jamsil is relatively easy, as most of the route is downhill and not too crowded with other bikers. Starting from Ttukseom Hangang Park at Jamsil Bridge, it takes about 1.5 to 2 hours round trip.
The circular course will enable you to view the Han from many different angles. Plus there are two cafes with observation decks - Riverview 8th Avenue on Gwangjin Bridge and Bom - Amsa Ecology Park, and the J-bug Complex, which is an exhibition space and restaurant.
If you are unable to complete the entire course, or just want to stay at one of the attractions on the course, you do not need to go all the way back to Ttukseom to return your bike. It is okay to turn it in to bike rental stations at Gwangnaru Hangang Park, which is halfway through the course.
In addition to its cafes and leisure facilities, the Ttukseom-Jamsil course has something else that draws visitors: bike parks. Unlike conventional parks that provide space for bike-riding, Gwangnaru Bike Park has more than 40 different kinds of quirky bikes you won’t find anywhere else, including square-wheeled bikes, bikes that move sideways, toilet-saddled bikes and recumbent bikes. For mountain bikers, there are bike-racing tracks with curves, bumps and hurdles.
The park also offers a chance to experience a rail bike, which is a leisure sport set up on an abandoned railway track that has become popular in areas like Jeongseon, Gangwon. The reed fields beside the rail track replicates the ambience of the countryside and will make you feel as if you’ve left the city.
Bikes can be rented at Ttukseom Hangang Park or Gwangnaru Hangang Park. Rentals are available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for between 3,000 won and 6,000 won per hour.
The rail bike costs 2,000 won per ride.
By Michelle Kang Contributing writer [email@example.com]
한글 관련 기사 [연합]
‘자전거 타고 씽씽’ 한강 환상코스
서울시가 새 봄을 맞아 한강변에서 가장 멋진 자전거 하이킹 코스 4개 구간을 선정, 공개했다.
서울시는 난지자전거공원∼반포한강공원 16㎞, 광나루한강공원∼반포한강공원 15㎞, 강서생태공원∼난지공원 14㎞, 한강공원 상류 순환코스 15㎞를 추천 코스로 뽑았다고 1일 밝혔다.
난지∼반포 코스는 아름다운 자연의 모습을 즐길 수 있는 곳으로 꼽히며 난지공원에서 출발해 망원공원, 마포대교, 여의도한강공원, 동작대교를 거쳐 반포대교에 이르는 구간이다.
이 코스는 난지공원의 이색 자전거, 망원공원의 정다운 오솔길, 마포대교에서 바라본 낙조와 밤섬, 여의도공원의 벌판과 분수, 동작대교의 카페를 한번에 체험할 수 있다.
광나루∼반포 코스는 한강 자전거도로 담당자가 뽑은 최고의 코스로 광진교와 광나루 자전거공원에서 영동대교, 동호대교, 한남대교를 거쳐 반포공원으로 이어지는 구간이다.
특히 영동대교에서 동호대교 사이 2.8㎞ 구간은 동해안 7번 국도를 연상시키는 코스로 강을 바로 옆에 끼고 달려 스트레스 해소에 안성맞춤이라고 서울시 관계자는 설명했다.
강서공원∼난지공원은 새들의 지저귐과 갈대숲, 낙조를 한번에 즐길 수 있는 코스로 강서생태공원에서 양화대교, 선유도, 난지공원으로 연결된다.
양화대교 위에서 선유도로 빠져나와 자전거를 세워놓고 선유도를 한바퀴 산책하는 것도 `필수` 코스로 꼽힌다.
한강공원 상류 순환코스는 뚝섬한강공원에서 출발해 광진교, 광나루 자전거공원, 암사 생태공원, 잠실대교, 뚝섬으로 이어지는 곳이다.
광진교에는 드라마 `아이리스` 촬영지로 유명한 국내 유일의 교각 하부 전망대인 `리버뷰 8번가`가 있고 광나루에는 국내 최초 자전거 테마 놀이 시설이 있다.
이들 4개 코스와 함께 한강 남북의 동서 횡단구간인 행주대교∼하남시계(41.1㎞), 방화대교∼구리시계(28.8㎞) 등 70㎞를 달릴 수 있는 일주 코스, 중랑천과 홍제천 등 한강 6개 지천의 자전거도로와 한강변을 모두 달리는 1박2일 코스도 `자전거 마니아층`으로부터 큰 인기를 끌고 있다.
한강에는 남북 이동이 가능한 교량이 11곳에 달하고 자전거 대여소가 11개 공원에 설치돼 있는데다 광나루와 난지 자전거공원에서는 초보자를 위한 안전교육 프로그램도 운영하고 있어 시민 누구나 편리하게 이용할 수 있다고 서울시는 밝혔다.
류경기 서울시 한강사업본부장은 "시민들이 한강수변 70㎞를 자전거로 달리며 자연경관을 즐기고 다양한 문화체험을 할 수 있도록 최고 수준의 자전거 길을 만들어 나가겠다"고 말했다.