From Iceland — Motorists Continue To Drive Through Pedestrian Streets

Motorists Continue To Drive Through Pedestrian Streets

Published June 2, 2020

Sam O'Donnell
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Motorists in downtown Reykjavík have been ignoring new regulations that made certain stretches of road pedestrian. Recently, part of Laugavegur, Skólavörðustígur and Vegamótastígur have become permanent pedestrian streets, closed off to vehicular traffic. Last week, the city put up signs to remind people of the changes. These signs went largely disregarded.

Kristín Soffia Jónsdóttir, City Councillor and representative of the Social Democratic Alliance in the Planning and Transport Council, says that the city may need to improve the signage so that people can’t miss it. “That might be one of the things we need to do, but then again, people may just have to get used to it,” she told RÚV.

The streets have previously been closed with a gate, but a new provision in the Traffic Act makes that more difficult. Kristín said it would be ideal for the streets to be open, but for people to respect the rules. “We know how to follow signs,” she said. “We don’t find it hard not to drive the wrong way down one-way streets although there are no bollards to stop us. So I think it would be by far the best and safest solution if people in the city could simply not drive where it’s forbidden.”

Given the reactions of passerby that RÚV spoke to, it may be possible to distinguish the signs a bit better. Pedestrians have also been reminding drivers with their very presence that they are driving down a pedestrian street. However, the fact remains that the results are not in line with the efforts, so it would make sense to make every effort to reduce motorist traffic as much as possible on these pedestrian streets.

On June 5th, certain stretches of road will also temporarily become pedestrian streets. Hopefully these stretches of road will see no motorist traffic, although the probability of human error is always high.

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