Bat Found in Kópavogur


A bat was found in Kópavogur, in the Reykjavík capital area, last week, RÚV reports. It was quite weak when it was found and was put down in a laboratory at the Institute for Experimental Pathology at Keldur shortly after. Bats are not native to Iceland and a veterinarian says it is unlikely they would be able to survive in the country.

Known to carry diseases

The bat was found on Smiðjavegur street in Kópavogur, according to Vilhjálmur Svansson, a veterinarian and virologist at Keldur. He stated that person who found the bat did not know where it came from. Vilhjálmur underlined that people should not touch or handle exotic animals if they come across them, especially bats. “They are of course known carriers of infectious agents and actually the most dangerous ones we know,” Vilhjálmur stated.

Bats are known to carry many types of rabies as well as Hendra viruses, which have been transmitted from bats to horses and then humans in Australia and Southeast Asia. “There are at least two, probably three deaths in Australia from these viruses that came from horses.” Bats also carry the Nipah virus, which can spread to humans, and are suspected of carrying Ebola. “And then we can mention that we’ve now been dealing with a bat virus for the last three years, SARS 2.”

Bats may arrive in shipping containers

Vilhjálmur says that one or two bats are blown to Iceland on air currents per year, but that most of the bats that arrive in the country probably do so on shipping containers. He does not believe that bats could survive in the wild in Iceland.

It is not known whether the bat found in Kópavogur carried any diseases. Samples from the animal are currently being analysed.

Urban Design Contest Envisions a Carbon-Neutral, Car-Free Future

The City of Reykjavík has launched an open design competition to “create a dense, mixed, diverse, and carbon-neutral new urban quarter” in Keldur, an underdeveloped area on the eastern outskirts of Reykjavík. Streetsblog reports that the contest, which will accept submissions until mid-April, is open to anyone—not just professional designers and urban planners—and will be judged anonymously by a team of local officials and international expert advisors.

The finalists from the first round of the competition will receive €50,000 [$53,582; ISK 7.7 million]. The final winner will receive an additional €50,000.

Where is Keldur?

Sandwiched between the neighbourhoods of Grafarvogur, Úlfarsárdalur, Grafarholt, Halsar, and Höfðar, the 288-acre parcel that, according to the Keldur Competition Brief, city officials are dividing into Keldur East and Keldur West, is a 30-minute bike ride away from downtown.

via Keldur Competition Brief

The area is currently served by four bus routes “with stops in the vicinity” but once the city unveils its new bus route and the first phase of the Borgarlína Rapid Transit (BRT) service in 2026-27, Keldur will have much more direct public transportation options to and from the city centre. Officials estimate that travel time on the BRT from Keldur and Lækjartorg will be approximately 20 minutes.

‘Against excessive parking’

While the building of a new residential community on the outskirts of a city might naturally imply high car ownership, “officials are are recommending against excessive parking,” explains Streetblog, and have “already promised to devote 100% of the profits from the development and sale of the land towards bringing frequent bus rapid transit service to residents. More broadly, the contest organizers called on entrants to ‘prioritize the eco-friendliest, most compact, and least cumbersome mode of transportation’ in their designs.”

Brad Toderian, one of the international experts serving on the Keldur competition’s judging panel, applauds the City of Reykjavík’s focus on creating “a truly urban place, not just a better suburb,” one that is “not just a little less car dependent, but that’s truly multimodal.” Toderian says that from a North American perspective, the competition is unique not only in that it accepts submissions from anyone, but also because “it’s more ambitious than North America is usually willing to be in these kinds of contexts.”

Cycle city

In addition to linking to the BRT, the Keldur neighborhood is intended to attract cyclists and encourage two-wheeled transit. The contest brief particularly emphasizes the “importance of integrating the region into the city’s ambitious Cycling plan — the city wants 10% of all trips to be taken on two wheels by 2025 — creating reliable pedestrian connections to surrounding areas, and making sure residents can meet their basic needs with a twenty minute walk or less.”

“BRT has a prime role to play,” says Toderian, “but it’s also about walkability and bikeability; it’s about carbon neutrality; it’s about green building design.”

Read the full Streetsblog article, in English, here. The Keldur Contest Brief (also in English), with information about how to submit a design proposal is available here. Queries about phase one of the project will be accepted until March 17, 2023; submissions will be accepted until April 19, 2023.