One of the many questions about Iceland I get asked when traveling abroad is how the traffic is in Iceland’s capital. I rarely travel at rush hour but I know it can get pretty bad, especially for such a small city. With around 745 cars per 1,000 inhabitants, Iceland has one of the highest number of vehicles per capita.
This morning, I experienced the Reykjavík rush hour. Leaving home in the suburbs shortly after 8 am on my way to town, I headed into a traffic jam.
Instead of my usual less than 15-minute drive, it turned out to be a 34-minute crawl.
Despite all the criticism of Reykjavík’s other transport options—the cost of bus tickets, poor bus network and schedule, uncovered bus stops, lack of/poor state of cycling paths—after an experience like today they seem a lot more tempting than sitting in traffic.
True, I wouldn’t have gotten downtown any quicker by bike, and perhaps not much quicker by bus (the bus waits at one of the bus interchanges for five minutes and the bus lanes don’t extend that far) but my petrol tank would still be full and I’d be doing the environment a favor.
Commuters in most of the world’s capitals would surely envy a mere half-hour drive in the morning, so, yes, things really aren’t that bad here.
Luckily, my new bus card arrived in the post yesterday and the fine weather in the capital today is leaving little excuse for not taking the bicycle out for a ride.
Zoë Robert – firstname.lastname@example.org