KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan, April 19, 2017 (ENS) - To advance sustainable transport globally, for the month of October 2017, Taiwan's Kaohsiung City will experiment with ecomobility by hosting the 3rd EcoMobility World Festival and Congress.
Throughout October, the streets of the city's historic Hamasen neighborhood will be a test area for ecomobile modes of transportation, allowing residents, and visitors from throughout the world, to experience what a sustainable future for urban transport might be like.
Kaohsiung City event organizers say biking and walking will replace the short trips made on conventional modes of transportation and public transport services will be increased and integrated into the neighborhood design.
In February, Kaohsiung City Mayor Chen Chu wrote a letter describing her plans for the event to fellow member cities of ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, an international association of local governments that have made a commitment to sustainable development.
With this letter, she invited "all cities and mobility actors to this revolutionary experiment in our city, to share their expertise and work together on making sustainable urban mobility the norm in our cities."
Mayor Chu also serves as chair of the EcoMobility Alliance, a network of 22 cities from around the world created in October 2011 in Changwon, South Korea.
Mayor Chu explained that her city suffers from air pollution due to the current modes of fossil-fuel based transportation. Kaohsiung suffers from traffic congestion and accidents, and the streets are filled with cars and scooters, taking most public space away from residents.
Located in southwestern Taiwan facing the Taiwan Strait, Kaohsiung is by area the largest municipality on the island, stretching from Mt. Jade to Taiping Island. With a population of about 2.77 million, it is the second most populous city after Taipei.
Kaohsiung has grown from a small 17th century trading village into the political, economic, transportation, manufacturing, refining, shipbuilding, and industrial center of southern Taiwan. But that growth has come at a steep price.
"Today, over 90 percent of Kaohsiung residents use private cars or motorized scooters to go about their daily lives, contributing to air and noise pollution, traffic jams and accidents in the city," wrote the mayor to her ICLEI colleagues.
"To reduce these issues resulting from fossil fuel-based private transport, Kaohsiung has already implemented various measures, including the development of a bike-sharing system and different public transport options. Now, we want to take these actions even further," wrote Mayor Chu.
Kaohsiung's bike rental system has 159 stations so far, and 750 kilometres of cycle paths. The city also has multiple public transport systems, including Mass Rapid Transit, high speed rail, the Taiwan Railway, city buses, ferries, solar boats, and light rail.
Kaohsiung is driven by the vision of a livable city, a city where children are safe in the streets, where the air is pure and where all residents can travel easily and safely.
In recent years, Kaohsiung has engaged on a path to transform the city, seeking to make it more livable. Ecomobility is a key catalyst in this transformation project, the mayor explained.
"To demonstrate the transformative potential of an integrated sustainable transport system in Kaohsiung, we will make the Hamasen neighborhood, a frequently visited tourist area, exclusively open to ecomobile transport for the entire month of October," wrote Mayor Chu.
"We want to improve air quality and create safer and more livable streets by increasing people- and environment-friendly transport options," she wrote. "Through the Festival, we aim to demonstrate that ecomobility also supports the development of local economy by increasing access to local businesses."
In parallel with the Festival, Kaohsiung will host the EcoMobility World Congress on October 1-5, focusing on the three themes that will also be woven into the Festival experience: livable, shared and intelligent.
"By implementing shared mobility, cities can increase the mobility options available to their residents," wrote Mayor Chu. "When coupled with intelligent transport solutions, they can ensure easy access to transport-related information by the residents."
"The Congress will showcase examples from cities all around the world so that we all take home ideas on how to transform our urban transport systems," she wrote.
Mayor Chu says the real value of the EcoMobility World Festival lies in the fact that it takes place in a real neighborhood, with real residents. It is a living experiment in transformation, which means the city needs to reach out to its residents for support and creative input.
Photo 1: Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (Photo courtesy EcoMobility Alliance)
Photo 2: Kaohsiung light rail service at Kaisyuan Rueitian Station, 2014 (Photo by billy1125)