I recently returned from the Netherlands where I had to get used to watching out for all the cyclists. The Dutch love their bikes, that’s no news. Naturally they have incorporated cyclists into the traffic.
Rotterdam, for example, has bright red, rather broad bike tracks, huge parking areas for bikes and much more.
Where the Netherlands is the motherland of cycling, Iceland... well... Iceland is rather underdeveloped regarding bikeways.
Reykjavík is not made for riding a bike. Many roads are way too bumpy and badly paved, bicycle lanes non-existing and cyclists seem to be foreign matter in car traffic.
This is actually quite sad, Reykjavík could be so great for cyclists.
By the way, I’m not talking about mountain biking or cycling on Iceland’s ring road, I’m referring to riding a bike in the city to get from A to B.
Since last week I’m the proud owner of a bike myself, and I’m slowly getting used to riding it in downtown Reykjavík. I’m learning to avoid certain roads, such as Hverfisgata due to its terrible pavement, or that cycling in Icelandic wind is no easy task and finding something to which I can safely lock my bike is also sometimes difficult.
Although I’ve learned how to ride a bike in a country with way more traffic than Iceland, Germany, I’m more afraid to cycle among cars in Iceland than anywhere before; most drivers seem to be totally oblivious to the fact that cyclists are also equal traffic participants.
I guess the drivers in Reykjavík will have to get used to that because more and more Reykjavíkians are switching to two-wheels.
As mentioned before, a lot of roads are very badly paved. Potholes, cracks and bumps are common and make for a great obstacle course.
Since cycling is especially popular among students, it is surprising that of all places the University of Iceland is hardly accessible on bike because some of the campus roads are made of gravel.
Building plans approved by the City of Reykjavík and the Icelandic Road Administration are the first step to a cycling-friendly future for Iceland.
Further plans are among others to connect the district of Fossvogur with the municipality of Kópavogur with a bridge for cyclists and pedestrians.
These improvements are very much needed and most welcome!
A popular cycling advocate and bike lover is Reykjavík’s handsome mayor Jón Gnarr who rides his bike most frequently through the capital’s streets. In this video he explains (in Icelandic) the advantages of cycling.
According to Jón Gnarr one has to get used to biking around Reykjavík at first, but then it becomes enjoyable. “Usually one gets faster from one place to another by cycling instead of driving,” he states. I guess he is right.
Although I’ve never been a very keen cyclist, I decided to give it a try. For somebody like me, who lives downtown and also does their daily chores in that area, a bike is most practical especially because I don’t find the public transport in Iceland very appealing .
Let’s hope the building plans for better bikeways work out and cycling in Reykjavík becomes easier and safer.
Katharina Hauptmann – firstname.lastname@example.org