A portion of Reykjavík’s main street will be closed to car traffic from December 18 until Christmas Eve.
Kjarninn reports that while City Council passed a measure to close part of Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur, the measure did not sail through without criticism. As has been the case when Reykjavík’s main street was closed to car traffic in the summer, the Independence Party was not pleased.
“There have been voices of caution heard from merchants that closing Laugavegur during Advent would reduce shopping,” Independence Party councilperson Júlíus Vífill Ingvarsson argued, saying that calls for a meeting with merchants over the matter have been ignored.
However, the City Council majority argued that poll after poll has shown that most merchants on the main street have actually reported increased sales and overall satisfaction with the Laugavegur closing.
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.