Slow down! (KH)

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Katharina Hauptmann's picture

A few days ago, Iceland Review published an article about a resident in downtown Reykjavík who put out flower pots on the street they live on in order to slow down traffic. I had been thinking about writing about this for a while. 

The flower pot is located on Bergstaðastræti in the neighborhood of Þingholt, right in the heart of the capital, and I walk past it every day thinking what a great idea it is to use those pretty pots to alert drivers to adjust the speed of their cars. Vigdís Hrefna Pálsdóttir, a woman who lives on Bergstaðastræti, came up with the flower pot idea and is “hoping to remind people that the street isn’t just for cars.”

Þingholt is a pretty neighborhood with a lot of pedestrians especially because it includes Reykjavík’s main shopping area around Laugavegur as well as a couple of schools and kindergartens and it is, first of all, a very popular residential area.
The whole area is a 30 km/h (18 mph) zone but many, many cars speed.

It is a miracle that there haven’t been any major casualties yet. Every day I witness cars racing down the streets at excessive speed. Every time I feel the urge to just throw something at them.

Speeding like this in an area where a lot of people, including lots of children, walk around is not only silly and very dangerous but simply grossly negligent.

On some streets traffic-reducing measures such as speed bumps have been implemented, but that is not enough. One of the busiest streets in Þingholt is Skólavörðustígur which has a lot of shops and cafés and leads up to Reykjavík’s landmark church Hallgrímskirkja. It doesn’t have any traffic-calming measures and therefore cars speed there a lot.

I don’t understand why nothing is done here, that the authorities aren’t doing their jobs and implementing more speed-reducing measures and ensuring the safety of people.

There are no speed-traps in this area at all, for instance, and the signage for the speed limits in the entire neighborhood is a joke. In some streets the speed limit of 30 km/h has been painted onto the pavement but is mostly gone now and barely visible.

There are so many possibilities to reduce speeding in this neighborhood, or in any neighborhood for that matter, if one only wants to: curb extensions, living streets and shared space, small islands or pedestrian refuges in the middle of the street, narrowing streets, said speed bumps, vehicle-activated signs (signs which react with a message if they detect a vehicle exceeding a pre-determined speed) and so on.

I hope that the authorities will take action and make downtown Reykjavík safer and implement more speed-reducing measures. Do we need fatal casualties before springing into action?

One of these days I will have to throw my take away latte at a speeding car. I can see it coming.

Katharina Hauptmann – katha.hauptmann@gmail.com

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.