The mayor of Reykjavík, Dagur B. Eggertsson announced yesterday that the Reykjavík City Council approved a motion to transform two of the city’s main streets, Laugavegur and Bankastræti, as well as the Kvosin area (Lækjargata to Vesturgata) into pedestrian zones.

The Department of Environment and Planning has been entrusted with the project of injecting new life into the areas by transforming them into pedestrian zones, paying particular attention to the safety and enjoyment of walkers and cyclists.

The motion also proposed that the areas in downtown Reykjavík be redesigned to facilitate greater access for all, including those in wheelchairs and mobility aids, in collaboration with both the users and the interest groups concerned. 

The move is a sign of the times: pedestrian cities are growing in popularity in many regions of the world. They both reduce pollution and bolster convenience. Pedestrian zones are designed to balance beauty with utility and enjoyment; they encourage activity while lowering emissions and creating additional social spaces for the city’s residents and visitors. 

Jane Jacobs, a noted activist in the field of ecologically and economically conscientious urban planning, once noted that pedestrian zones and pedestrian cities offer an “intricate and close-grained diversity of uses that give each other constant mutual support, both economically and socially.” 

In his Facebook announcement, the mayor stated his satisfaction that “city council nearly unanimously agreed” to the undertaking. The redesign will allow and account for cyclists, and will give the area new life as a nexus of enjoyment in downtown Reykjavík. 

Laugavegur and Bankastræti were previously open exclusively to pedestrians and cyclists from May 1 until October 1, following 2015 legislation. Throughout the years, that time period gradually increased in line with public support. Yesterday’s decision marks the culmination of years of polling, as well as a great stride for the city of Reykjavik.