Reykjavík City Hall has reached a compromise, and downtown’s main drag will now be (virutally) car-free for four months.
RÚV reports that after fierce opposition from opposition parties to the majority’s initial plan to close Laugavegur for five months, City Hall passed a measure that will close the downtown street from May 15 to September 15.
The Independence Party had opposed the five-month closure, offering instead that Laugavegur be “flexibly closed” for four months. While the majority rejected the idea of a “flexible closure”, they agreed to shorten the time frame.
The Progressive Party were even more opposed, recommending instead three months, arguing that it was too soon to assess whether a long closure would be beneficial.
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 – between Vatnstígur and Skólavörðustígur – only deprived the street of 17 parking spaces. Despite some objections from some conservatives, foot traffic did increase during this time, from about 9,000 people per day to 14,000 per day.