According to the results of a new survey, most Icelanders were happy with the partial and temporary closing of Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur last summer, and believed it had a positive effect on business.
Last summer, between June 17 and August 20, the city temporary closed off car traffic on Laugavegur between Vatnsstígur and Bankastræti as well as on Skólavörðustígur from Bergstaðastræti downwards. While to all appearances the move was welcomed by most people downtown, some claimed the closings were detrimental – Björn Jón Bragason, who claimed to represent a group of merchants on Laugavegur, said that the closing actually hurt business.
The survey was conducted by Borghildur, a focus group which concentrates its attentions on life in downtown Reykjavík, and the results have been published on their website. Among the data points that come to light, 94% of pedestrians said they were happy with the street closings, as were 75.6% of business owners. It is estimated that foot traffic increased by a third during the closings. Interestingly, most business owners were unhappy with the decision when it was first announced – only about 43% said they were happy with the idea of the closings.
In terms of effects on business, about 46% of business owners on Laugavegur said the closings positively affected business, while just over 24% said it had no effect and 17.1% said it affected their business negatively. 33.3% of business owners on Skólavörðustígur believed the closings affected their business positively, while 27.8% believed it had no effect and 16.7% said it had a negative effect.
Below is a video detailing the street closings and their effects (in Icelandic):