Brothers Ride to Raise Cyclist Safety Awareness

On November 6 of last year, Eggert Þorfinnsson died in a cycling accident at 80 years of age when he was hit by a car on Sæbraut, not far from his home. Vísir reports that on Tuesday, his two sons retraced their father’s last bike route, from Kirkjusandur on the east side of Reykjavík to Harpa, to raise awareness of cyclist safety.

One of Eggert’s sons, Sigurður Jónas Eggertsson, criticized a recent draft of a traffic law which proposes that cyclists ride on the right side of the lane.

“I think it’s preposterous,” he remarked. “If there’s parking on the street, where cars are parked right there and need to back out into the street, then drivers will never see a cyclist if he’s on the right side. He needs to be in the middle or on the left side. This poses a danger,” he concluded.

Fuel Spill No Longer Likely for Stranded Cargo Ship

The stranded Fjordvik cargo ship, which ran aground near Keflavík this weekend, may yet be emptied of pollutants and hazardous materials without contaminating surrounding harbour waters, RÚV reports. Contrary to the previous belief that the ship was leaking gasoline, closer examination of the hull yesterday revealed that it is, in fact, unlikely that any of the gasoline drums on board were compromised.

The Fjordvik, which was transporting concrete, had 104 tonnes of gasoline on board. The process of pumping the gasoline off the ship has taken several days, however, as the first pump used wasn’t sufficiently powerful for the job. Ólafur Jónsson, head of the department of Nature, Ocean, and Water at the Environment Agency of Iceland, reported being hugely relieved to be able to say that the majority of the ship’s fuel had now been transferred out of its tanks. It’s thought that the slick that authorities assumed to be fuel leaking from the engine room was caused by sea water going in and out of the engine compartment and carrying engine oil and the like with it.

Now that the majority of the gasoline has been pumped out of the ship, the risk of pollution in the harbour waters has significantly decreased. “We would also like to be able to transfer other hazardous materials to land, even though there is less of a risk of them going into the sea if the ship is damaged,” said Ólafur.

Authorities have yet to decide where the Fjordvik will be moved after all the fuel and hazardous materials are removed from it. It is at great risk of sinking if moved, which would be an environmental hazard, as well as a huge financial loss. Once the fuel removal is complete, the next step will be to pump seawater out of the ship so that the full extent of its damage can be assessed.

PM’s Next Car Will Be Electric

The Icelandic government will be upgrading its fleet of ministerial vehicles to electric cars, RÚV reports. Electric cars will be integrated into the existing fleet according to the regular car replacement schedule.

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir says that it is now important to gather information on electric car manufacturers and dealerships to determine what make and model should be selected by government ministers.

Electric cars have been very popular with Icelandic consumers in recent years and sales have been steadily increasing. For instance, only 227 electronic cars were sold in 2016, but 415 of them were sold in 2017 – an 86% increase. Alternative and clean transportation has been an important issue with city planners, whose proposals for new energy-efficient initiatives included city-wide lamppost charging stations. Supporting increased use of electric cars was also one of the goals laid out in the Reykjavík Climate Policy, which was approved in 2016.

A recent report on electric cars in Iceland revealed that the proportion of clean electric cars in Iceland is expected to increase even more in the coming years, although this will depend somewhat on government decisions and market conditions. One of the most significant factors for buyers to consider, however, is that from the time they are purchased new, cars in Iceland are, on average, in use for 12 to 13 years. As such, any car purchased today will impact the local environment for more than a decade.

Rare Foreign Bird Sightings in Iceland

A number of foreign birds that are rarely seen in Iceland have been spotted in the country of late, RÚV reports. These unusual sightings include hawfinches in Húsavík in North Iceland, whinchats in Southeast Iceland and, along Iceland’s Southern coast, near Vík, little buntings that would have flown all the way from Northeast Europe or Asia.

Other foreign winged visitors of late include lesser whitethroats, six gray herons, white-winged scoters, and even gray-cheeked thrushes, which generally nest in the Arctic, namely, in Siberia and Canada. Lastly, the colourful American robin, which nests throughout North America, has caused a particular sensation among birdwatchers on the Suðurnes peninsula.