Pedestrianised streets to continue through winter

11.09.2020 - 15:55
skólavörðustígur, göngugata, umferðarskilti,
 Mynd: RÚV/Freyr Arnarson
A majority of the City of Reykjavík planning and environment committee this week agreed to recommend keeping the existing pedestrianised streets in central Reykjavík car free until 1st May, when the measure will very likely be extended again for the summer.

Elected councillors on the committee in favour of the extension pointed to opinion polls that indicate that local residents are generally happy with the pedestrianised streets and that the highest level of satisfaction is among people who use the streets at least once a week. 

Two Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn (Independence Party) members abstained and the Miðflokkurinn (Centre Party) representative voted against the “ice-cold greeting from the majority”. 

A letter to the committee from the head of traffic and the city architect said that closing the streets to vehicular traffic has served to bring new life to the area. Preparations are underway in local planning to make the Pedestrian streets permanent. The proposal has already received police blessing, the letter says. 

Councillor Vigdís Hauksdóttir (Miðflokkurinn) says, however, that the decision comes like thunder from blue sky with only 21 days to go until cars were due to be allowed again. “Laugavegur has been put on long-term lockdown without any consultation with local businesses who are fighting hard to maintain services despite the city centre being stone-cold-dead,” she argued. 

Kolbrún Baldursdóttir from Flokkur fólkins (the People’s Party) said: “The town is lifeless and by opening the streets again as was expected, there was a glimmer of small hope that more people would want to visit it. Now that dream is over and they will permanently close if this happens. Many will bleed out over the coming months.” 

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Alexander Elliott
Project manager
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