Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Street Trash

Many years ago the city councillors where I lived decided that the local economy would be magically invigorated by pedestrianising some of the central streets, replacing the utilitarian lighting with 19th century style street lamps complete with hanging baskets, and doubling local taxes. When I arrived in Busan, I quickly concluded that the urban regeneration trend was not one which had much troubled the minds of their counterparts here, and the only pedestrianised areas I found were the places which you physically can't drive a car or motorbike - and note that the pavement/sidewalks definitely fall outside this definition.

But recently someone in Busan Metropolitan Council evidently thought that it would be a great idea if the city's streets perhaps didn't look like a prototype for some future version of Grand Theft Auto, especially with all those overseas visitors, who don't know how to jump out of the way of oncoming motorbikes, flocking to the Pusan International Film Festival. So the area around one of the main cinemas in Nampodong where PIFF events were being held got a facelift this year, and the result is the Kwangbok Street Project featuring a curved road to discourage traffic, halogen style low-pollution lighting and water features.

From the way the Council have solicited messages of various kinds which appear on tiled blocks at one point along the street you might think that they consider this a project of some significance - perhaps representing an aspiration of how Busan might look in future. If so, one can only hope that eventually the city's planners discover that other urban innovation - the public litter bin - as there seems to be a complete lack of them - with consequences as seen in the photo below right.

In fact, in a country where there are quite a lot of street vendors of various kinds - especially those selling snack food, the absence of litter bins in Busan has always struck me as odd, but then I come from a country where there can often seem to be one every ten feet in shopping districts like this, which some might see as overkill. Still, it does help keep the streets clean. Perhaps it's a lost cause though - such is the nature of the enforced recycling system here what you do tend to find every few feet is a forlorn pile of cardboard packaging waste dumped in the street ready for collection, which passers-by then readily add a variety of other items to. If only there were some kind of high-tech public trash bin which did something clever with its rubbish they would probably be everywhere...

Korean tags: , 쓰레기통, 정부, 계획, 보행자

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fab blog as always little brother! On the news here today there was a story about some guy who had been fined seventy quid (that's english pounds for all you internationalists out there) for PUTTING his rubbish in a bin!! It was a public waste bin and he had placed a small bag of his household waste in it, but still! I never did hear why he'd had to resort to walking along the street to a litter bin instead of using his own domestic bin parked conveniently outside his door.

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