While Reykjavík has one gas station per 3,000 residents and London, England has one per 10,000, Akureyri, North Iceland, has one gas station per 1,500 residents. Reykjavík City Council has implemented an action plan to halve the number of gas stations in the city by 2025, Akureyri is working in the opposite direction, RÚV reports.
Akureyri is the largest town in North Iceland, with a population of just under 19,000. Despite the Icelandic government’s plans to institute a total ban on new diesel and petrol cars by 2030, the town is currently constructing its 13th gas station, on Sjafnargata street. Akureyri City Councillor Sóley Björk Stefánsdóttir of the Left Green Movement says car culture prevails in the town. Earlier this week, children and those with respiratory conditions were warned to stay inside due to high levels of particulate pollution.
Car culture dominates
“There is no clear spirit within the local council to address the issue and think about how we’re going to use this space that’s being covered by gas stations,” Sóley remarked. “There is a huge emphasis on car ownership here and that everyone needs to drive. I forgot my lunch at home and I’m on my way to a meeting and I realised I had to turn around to get a banana because I can’t buy a banana downtown in Akureyri, but I can take gas.”
Tryggvi Þór Ingvarsson, chairman of the planning council, says that the reduction of space at Olís gas station on Tryggvabraut resulted in the decision to allocate the company a plot of land on Sjafnargata. When asked whether he believes the number of gas stations in Akureyri was reasonable, Tryggvi responded: “Yes and no, it has a historic explanation. It may not be reasonable for there to be 1,500 people per each gas station, but it’s not necessarily unreasonable either.”