The City of Reykjavík’s environment and planning committee has voted to keep sections of three downtown streets permanently car-free, RÚV reports. Laugavegur, Skólavörðustígur, and Vegamótastígur will now all have pedestrian-only zones all year.
The vote was approved with votes from members of the Social Democratic Alliance, the Reform Party, the Pirate Party, and two out of three of the committee’s Independence Party members, Hildur Björnsdóttir and Katrín Atladóttir.
Hildur and Katrín’s Independence Party colleague, Marta Guðjónsdóttir, voted against the proposal saying that downtown business owners are opposed to year-round traffic closures, which contribute, she asserted, to their ongoing struggle to remain open and solvent. For their part, Hildur and Katrín said that the new car-free streets must be managed in consultation with pedestrians, shop owners, and stakeholders. “A lack of cooperation over major construction developments, constant property tax increases, wage increases, and the rise of online shopping are among the things that have created difficulties for shop owners in downtown Reykjavík,” they said.
Taking into account feedback from said stakeholders, the project will be divided into nine sections. This means that the permanent car-free zones will actually be less expensive and less disruptive to local businesses than was thought when the plan was originally proposed.