Reykjavík to Cap Speed Limits at 50km/h Skip to content

Reykjavík to Cap Speed Limits at 50km/h

By Yelena

driving in reykjavík
Photo: Golli (eastward bound traffic from Reykjavík).

Speed limits will be lowered to 50km/h throughout Reykjavík according to a motion approved by Reykjavík’s Planning and Transportation Council yesterday. Most streets in the city will have a speed limit of 30-40km/h. The motion does not affect arterial roads managed by the Road and Coastal Administration such as Miklabraut, Sæbraut, or Kringlumýrarbraut.

Aim to Improve Traffic Safety

The goal of the change is to promote improved traffic safety and prevent serious accidents. Per a notice from the City of Reykjavík: “The lower the speed of a vehicle, the easier it is for the driver to prevent an accident, because in the time it takes to react to an unexpected event, the faster the speed, the longer the distance travelled. Traffic speed is therefore a very important variable in any discussion of traffic safety.” Reducing maximum speed limits should not only help prevent accidents, but reduce the severity of accidents that do occur, according to the notice.

Lowers Noise and Pollution

The notice suggests implementing the measures over a five-year period, which is expected to cost ISK 240-300 million ($1.9-2.4 million/€1.6-2 million). Besides improved safety, lower speed limits are expected to have other positive impacts, including a decrease in traffic noise and pollution. A recent Icelandic study found that vehicles created up to 40% less particulate pollution at lower speeds. Particulate pollution affects air quality in Reykjavík and elsewhere in Iceland, particularly in the spring time when weather is dry and many vehicles are still using studded tires.

Not Expected to Cause Traffic Delays

According to the City of Reykjavík, lower speeds will not lead to heavier traffic: “The maximum traffic capacity of the street system and delays around rush hour are usually determined by the capacity of intersections, light controls, and other traffic. The reduction of the maximum speed is not expected to have a significant effect on delays during rush hour, as at those times traffic lights and other traffic will have a greater effect on the actual speed than the maximum speed limit.”


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