From Iceland — Plan To Close Laugavegur Causes Conflict Between Merchants And City Officials

Plan To Close Laugavegur Causes Conflict Between Merchants And City Officials

Published May 23, 2011

City plans to close part of Laugavegur has caused many shop owners to fear their business will die. A city hall official contends that closing part of the street will increase the quality of life downtown.
The proposal on the table before city hall is to close Laugavegur from car traffic between Skólavörðustígur and Vatnsstígur, and make it strictly for pedestrians and cyclists.
This has been met with strong reactions from some merchants on Laugavegur, Pressan reports, with some speculating that their business could drop by as much as 50% should that portion of the street be closed. One merchant said that “they tried this on Austurstræti, Hafnarstræti, and in Akureyri, and have had to open the closed streets to car traffic again because of how poorly it went.”
In response to these concerns, Kristín Soffía Jónsdóttir, vice chairperson of the Environmental and Traffic Department of Reykjavík, pointed out that as there are only 17 parking spaces along this 300 metre stretch of the main street, it is unlikely that closing it to car traffic would have much effect on business. Furthermore, there are side streets and parallel streets with this portion of Laugavegur that do have parking spaces.
“If this is done,” she said, “it will be done for the city residents, for Laugavegur and for business owners. We are certain that it will be positive for everyone.”

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