The opposition parties of Reykjavík City Hall contend five months is far too long to close Laugavegur from car traffic.
RÚV reports that a proposal from the Planning and Environmental Council for the City of Reykjavík is being hotly contested in City Hall. The two parties in the opposition – the Independence Party and the Progressives – contend that closing main shopping strip Laugavegur from May 1 to October 1 is too long.
The Independence Party objected that the closure would be damaging to small businesses on Laugavegur. These sentiments are very similar to those made by Björn Jón Bragason, the managing director of the Association of Merchants and Real Estate Owners on Laugavegur, who also happens to be on the party’s Central Committee for the City of Reykjavík.
The Progressives agreed with the Independence Party, with the latter proposing a closure of three months instead.
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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