The Government's ongoing commitment to walking and cycling access across the Auckland Harbour is to be commended. But the risks and timeframe for delivery of the updated, proposed $685 million Northern Pathway means we need to find an interim solution now.
That's why we're pushing for the trial of one clip-on traffic lane as a shared path. Should the trial prove successful then it can be the solution until the Northern Pathway is completed.
Some people are calling the May 30 unofficial cycle ride across Auckland Harbour Bridge a Rosa Parks moment. Others think the mums, dads and kids on bikes were hooligans for breaking the law.
From among the crowd, it looked like a happy collection of everyday New Zealanders who never forgot the joy of riding a bike. Auckland looked gorgeous. The myths about the bridge being too steep, too dangerous, too noisy, were all put to rest by the way even little kids rode up the easy incline.
It felt like we were part of history. We were both protesting the 62 years of denied access, and celebrating. The party atmosphere made it hard to believe what we were doing was illegal. It felt like fun. It felt natural, and that once again the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) had misread the situation.
Shame on NZTA which bought and then scuttled SkyPath. SkyPath, designed, consulted, consented and funded in partnership with NZTA, could have been built by now. Shame on NZTA for conning the public and politicians in May 2019 when it said it had an even better plan than SkyPath – the Northern Pathway for a cost of $120 million, which would not only go across the harbour but all the way to Albany.
NZTA promised "certainty for Aucklanders" on the way forward but hadn't even designed the pylons (legs) or the connections at either end. Yet it said construction could start as
early as 2020.
Shame on NZTA for forcing people out of their homes at Northcote Point for plans so badly developed they proved unworkable. Shame on NZTA for convincing the Government the solution is a completely new bridge across the Waitematā just for walking and cycling.
The sheer cost means it is hard to take it seriously. And then there are the consent, consultation and construction challenges.
It's time NZTA joined the 21st century. You can't build your way out of congestion. We have to use existing infrastructure more wisely.
NZTA's own policy documents, such as "Keeping Cities Moving" clearly say mode shift is essential for mobility, climate change, public health and efficiency. Around the world, reallocation of road space to walking and cycling has led to traffic "evaporating" as people choose alternatives to driving in peak-hour traffic.
NZTA shows bad faith in refusing to work with Bike Auckland and the GetAcross campaign on a trial for walking and cycling. Shame on NZTA for pitting car driving Aucklanders against last month's cyclists by not publicising they planned to close the Northern clip-on anyway, even before the rally.
But then it shut two clip-on lanes at late notice, causing maximum inconvenience on the
We are all being let down by NZTA and its devotion to business as usual, which is like a hangover from history.
Let's make our bridge multi-modal by trialling one lane as a shared path. That we can enjoy improved traffic flow, travel choice, better health and reduced environmental impacts now.
• Christine Rose is the chair of Movement, formerly the SkyPath Trust.