Street Closing Welcome By Most Merchants

Words by Paul Fontaine
The temporary closings of Skólavörðustígur and Laugavegur have been so successful that many merchants have asked for an extension, while voices of criticism are not as widespread as believed.

As many living in the Reykjavík area this past summer know, the city temporary closed off car traffic on Laugavegur between Vatnsstígur and Bankastræti as well as Skólavörðustígur from Bergstaðastræti downwards. The idea was to encourage more people to walk downtown as opposed to driving through it, with a hoped additional effect of having more people walk into shops.

It would appear as though the experiment - which was also conducted last year - was a success. Vísir reports that merchants on Skólavörðustígur have been so pleased that they have asked the city for an extension on the closing, which has been granted. This block of the street will remain car-free until August 27. Reykjavík planning committee member Hjálmar Sveinsson said that the street closings have received an overwhelmingly positive reaction from merchants on both streets.

There have, however, been voices of criticism. Björn Jón Bragason, who claims to represent a group of merchants on Laugavegur, says that the closing was actually detrimental to business. Fréttablaðið points out, though, that Björn's group is comprised of seven businesses, and his open house meetings have been poorly attended. There are 135 businesses on Laugavegur altogether.

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