From Iceland — Objects To Closing Laugavegur For Five Months

Objects To Closing Laugavegur For Five Months

Published April 2, 2015

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Marek Ślusarczyk/Wikimedia Commons

A representative for some merchants on Reykjavík’s main shopping street objects to a proposal to close Laugavegur from May to October 1.

Vísir reports that Hjálmar Sveinsson, chairperson of the Planning and Environmental Council for the City of Reykjavík, has proposed that Laugavegur extend its period of summer closing to car traffic. If implemented, no driving (apart from delivery vehicles) would be permitted on the street from May 1 to October 1.

Björn Jón Bragason, the managing director of the Association of Merchants and Real Estate Owners on Laugavegur, objects strongly to the idea, as he has in years previous, on the grounds that locking the street to car traffic would be bad for business. The association had filed a motion against the closure with the Ministry of the Interior, who have yet to reach a decision.

“It is out of the question to discuss closing [the street] before the Ministry has reached a decision,” a statement from the association reads. “If the city is interested in closing [the street], it is only right that votes be counted amongst business owners and property owners in the area. Too many business and property interests are at stake for a decision like this to be taken unilaterally by the city.”

When the experiment to close Laugavegur was attempted in 2011, it was solely for the month of July. At that time, most merchants were happy with the results. In fact, the stretch of Laugavegur that was closed to cars – Vatnstígur and Skólavörðustígur – only deprived the street of 17 parking spaces. At the same time, foot traffic increased from about 9,000 per day to 14,000 per day.

Nonetheless, objections to the closing have been raised by other merchants. Despite these objections, last year the street was closed from June 17 (Iceland’s Independence Day) until September 1.

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