The news that the proposed Skypath project is in limbo is a blow to many who loved the idea of the harbour-straddling cycle and walkway.
Technical problems are thwarting the Auckland Harbour Bridge add-on from becoming a reality any time soon, at least in its current form. Waka Kotahi executive Brett Gliddon says the Harbour Bridge can't hold any more steel reinforcing, thus stalling the project.
The news is disappointing for many as the bridge pathway, as part of the $360 million Northern Pathway, both captured the imagination and was the type of transportation plan that should be encouraged.
Auckland clearly needs more infrastructure options to lessen traffic pressures and Skypath offered a beneficial option to residents and the environment.
Anyone who has ever seen the tilting Gateshead Millennium Bridge for pedestrians and cyclists over the River Tyne at Newcastle would understand what an attention-drawing asset the Skypath would be.
The years of work that has gone into Auckland's waterfront with walkways, public areas, eateries, artwork, have enhanced the setting to make it one of the best places to be in the city. Hamilton is likewise expanding its riverside walkways and gardens into great assets.
Benefits in such schemes come in improved health for people and fewer cars on the road.
People often require a push of some sort to try something different, whether that instigator is an event, new technology or something being built. One kind of demand can lead to wider demand.
For instance, the pandemic boosted interest in cycling. Cities around the world opened up more cycle lanes because of it. It was a safer and greener option for getting around.
During the first lockdown in New Zealand, people spent more time around home, and families needed to keep kids busy. There were fewer cars around. Bikes were a good way for the family to get exercise together.
The rise in popularity of e-cycles and the gradual work expanding Auckland's ambitious network of cycleways/walkways have helped to maintain momentum.
The use of the network will grow over time as people get used to using it, and it adds to the enjoyment of living in the city or visiting it.
There's also that harder-to-measure factor - greater happiness and quality of life.
Because a long cycleway exists and passes across bridges, alongside water and through parks, it can become a nice day out for a group of retired people, for instance.
Last Sunday morning, there were regular sights of people cycling or walking on sections of the track alongside the Western Motorway, heading out from the city towards Westgate.
Having the track there then spurs goals and motivation: How far can I walk/cycle? Can I use that area to train for something else? Can I use this regularly rather than drive?
People who see infrastructure issues purely in terms of costs, jobs and shifting people from A to B miss the bigger picture.
Infrastructure projects can add lasting value to a city in multiple ways, making it more people-friendly, more enjoyable to be in and more attractive to tourists.
With that in mind, it's to be hoped the spirit of Skypath will be revived in some form in an additional harbour crossing urgently needed for the city.