Representatives of riders, drivers, cyclists and other commuters and outdoor recreation groups signed a pact on traffic safety at a press conference in the stable area in Víðidalur in Reykjavík on Saturday, 8 May. Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, Minister of Transport and Local Government, opened the press conference and announced at the same occasion planned additional funding for riding paths which is being discussed at parliament.
At the press conference, Jón Gunnar Jónsson, Director-General of the Icelandic Transport Authority, presented a new educational video about traffic safety with a focus on the horse’s nature and its possible reactions to people and vehicles, among other subjects. The video is now online and it can be watched here (it will be available with English subtitles soon).
Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, Minister of Transport and Local Government (left), with Guðni Halldórsson, chairman of the Icelandic Equestrian Association.
Lately, there have been many discussions about incidents between riders and other commuters and outdoor recreation groups, especially on social media. In some cases, people have accused each other of recklessness and lack of respect while constructive criticism and solution-focused dialogue have been lacking.
Last year there were many accidents involving riders, some of which were serious, and often in places where riding traffic and other traffic overlaps. In 2020, 160 horse-related accidents were registered at the ER of Landspítali National Hospital but usually, many such accidents are undocumented.
The reason is often lack of knowledge and that horse people don’t put themselves in other people’s shoes and vice-versa. Now horse people and representatives of other groups have joined hands in educating the public about how everyone should be able to practice outdoor recreation in peace, in a healthy and safe way.
The intention with the educational campaign is to inform people of the nature of horses and their possible reactions to people and vehicles. Furthermore, it is intended to raise awareness of the needs of different outdoor recreation groups and everyone’s right to exercise outdoors and get safely from A to B.
The following groups have reached an agreement on a “Pact between horse people and other commuters”: The Icelandic Equestrian Association; The Icelandic Cycling Association; The Icelandic Automobile Association (FÍB); The Icelandic Driving Schools Association; Sniglar Motorcycle Association; Slóðavinir Motorcycle Association; The Association of Responsible Dog Owners; The Icelandic Ski Association; Ullur Cross-Country Ski Association; The Icelandic Athletic Federation; and The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration.
Representatives of these groups signed the pact at the press conference, encouraging everyone to be considerate, careful and respectful, and us all to put ourselves in the position of others.
Text: Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir. Photos: Einar Magnús Magnússon.