Osaka starts test to convert main street into haven for pedestrians
KONFRONTASI - Aspiring to create a Japanese version of Champs Elysees in Paris, the city government here on Oct. 9 banned traffic on a side road of Midosuji boulevard for a two-week demonstration experiment.
It is part of the municipality’s multistage project to convert the ginko tree-lined main boulevard into a pedestrian paradise by 2037.
“We are hoping that the experiment will turn up positive results,” a city official said.
A 200-meter section on the east side road of the boulevard between the south side of Dotonborigawa river and Sennichimaedori street will be closed to traffic during the test that runs through Oct. 22.
The side road will be separated into two lanes, one for pedestrians and one for cyclists.
Municipal workers will monitor fluctuations in vehicle traffic in the city center during the experiment.
Midosuji is about 4.2 kilometers long and 44 meters wide with up to eight lanes. The one-way national road, managed by the city government, runs north-south in central Osaka.
Two other one-way streets--Naniwasuji and Matsuyamachisuji--also run north-south in the center of the city.
The city government plans to finish converting Midosuji’s side roads into those for pedestrians and cyclists in the zone between the south side of Dotonborigawa river and Sennichimaedori street by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Summer Olympics and Paralympics.
Side roads covering a 3-km stretch between the north side of Dotonborigawa river and Yodoyabashi bridge will be free of vehicles by 2025, when Osaka aims to host the World Expo.
The city government plans to spend about 500 million yen ($4.42 million) to turn the now-closed side road section into a walkway from fiscal 2019.(Juft/AsahiShimbun)