New Bike-Sharing Service in Reykjavík

Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson was among the first to try the new bike-sharing service.

A new bike-sharing service began operations in Reykjavík yesterday. A hundred bicycles will be stationed at more than 40 locations, where people can pick up or drop off their bikes. An app will tell you where the next free bike is and users can ride for free for the first week.

Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson, director of the city‘s committee of planning and transport Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir, and director of the committee of environment and health Líf Magneudóttir were the first to try out the bikes. According to a press release, users will get to ride for free for the first week.

The bike sharing service is part of the international Donkey Republic brand, but the Icelandic system is run by Framúrskarandi ehf according to a service agreement with the city. The bikes will be available for rent by the hour, or you can get a monthly or yearly subscription. „We believe that cycling and other micro-mobility solutions are the future of public transport,“ says Eyþór Máni Steinarsson, project manager.“Cycling will reduce traffic, is more environmentally friendly and allows you to exercise as you get between places.”

Parliament Operations Changed to Eliminate Filibusters

Steingrímur J. Sigfússon

Speaker of Parliament Steingrímur J. Sigfússon introduced changes to parliament operations yesterday, intended to discourage filibusters, RÚV reports. Rebuttals won’t be allowed for repeated five-minute speeches and echoing, or rebuttals to speeches from members of the same party as the original orator will not be allowed. This is intended to discourage filibusters, following the record-breaking 150-hour filibuster in the discussion of the Adoption of the EU’s third energy package this spring.

Parliament will also last longer into the summer than before, based on earlier experience. The Speaker also requested that the Standing orders of Alþingi be reviewed and expects that a special committee will finish the review before the end of this term.

“Members of Parliament from the same party as the original orator will no longer be allowed to rebut or echo, unless special circumstances allow it, such as if it is clear that the members of parliament are on opposite sides of an issue or that votes will not fall along party lines,” Steingrímur stated in his first address to this parliamentary session.

This will make the form of rebuttals the same as it was in 1991 when Alþingi, Iceland’s Parliament was made a unicameral legislature. At the beginning of the 21st century, changes were made to Alþingi’s standing orders, putting time restrictions on each speech in the second round of discussions but no restrictions were put on the number of speeches allowed. This meant that members of Parliament could make several shorter speeches instead of making long speeches and rebuttals could take longer than the original speeches. This will now be limited.

The discussion on the adoption of the EU’s third energy package into Icelandic law took an unprecedented 150 hours, with many meetings in parliament stretching into the wee hours of the morning as members of the Centre Party rebutted one another’s speeches over and over. The filibuster lead to a pile-up of issues, which had to wait to be processed. Speaker Steingrímur rebuked the Centre Party members at one point, saying Alþingi was in a sorry state of affairs and tried to appeal to their reasonableness, sense of responsibility and respect for the basic rules of parliamentary democracy. Centre Party Director Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson has denied that the party’s takeover of the third energy package discussion was a filibuster, claiming that the discussion was topical.

Six Icelandic Women Swim Across the English Channel

Swimming group Marglytturnar (Jellyfish) finished their relay swim across the English channel just before 9 pm yesterday. The last swimmer, Halldóra Gyða Matthíasdóttir Proppé took the last strokes at 20.53, after 15 hours of relay swimming from Dover, England to Cap Gris, France. The swim was intended to raise awareness of plastic pollution in the ocean.

Marglytturnar is a group of six swimmers, Birna Bragadóttir, Brynhildur Ólafsdóttir, Sigrún Þ. Geirsdóttir, Sigurlaug maría Jónsdóttir, Þórey Vilhjálmsdóttir, and Halldóra Gyða Matthíasdóttir. In addition, Gréta Ingþórsdóttir and Soffía Sigurgeirsdóttir helped organize the event. Birna Bragadóttir told RÚV that the journey went swimmingly, as evident by the fact that they reached their destination. “We’ve tuned together as a team and have waited for this patiently so we just got to work, encouraged one another and everyone did their part. It’s a goal we set two years ago and it’s incredible that we’ve reached it. As soon as we got over the hardest part, it was extremely exciting.”

The purpose of the swim was to raise awareness of plastic pollution and its effect on the ocean’s ecosystem. Marglytturnar are raising funds for Blái herinn, an environmental organization focused on fighting plastic pollution and cleaning Iceland’s beaches.

The marglyttur swimming group before their relay swim across the English Channel
[/media-credit] The Marglyttur swimming group before their relay swim across the English Channel