What a fantastic day for Auckland! After 50 years of having the Auckland Harbour Bridge locked off to all those not in cars, today Aucklanders took back Our Bridge. I was right there at the front of the rally – impressed by the speeches (particularly that of Christine Rose) and heckling abuse at Wayne McDonald of NZTA. There were certainly a LOT of people there, perhaps more than the 2000 quoted by most newspapers.

For a while I thought we weren’t going to get across, as Wayne said “no” as we asked him nicely. But then we shifted down to the Curran Street onramp, found our way through a the trees and onto the onramp itself. The police were there but didn’t really try to stop us – the crowd was just too great. First NZTA blocked off the clip-on lanes and then, perhaps because they were afraid of having so many people on the clip-ons, they blocked traffic off from the centre lanes too. So we had the entire northbound side of the bridge to ourselves. Everyone was jumping and yelling, absolutely exhilirated in what we’d achieved. It was a huge egg on Mr McDonald’s face in the end, as I’m sure traffic was absolutely screwed throughout the city. If NZTA had avoided being such idiots they could have easily managed it, but in the end it was their stupidity that led to the entire northbound side of the bridge having to be closed.

Leila and I walked across and back, seeing heaps of people of all ages, with kid, dogs and push-chairs. It was a day when we all celebrated being Aucklanders and celebrated the bridge as linking the city, not dividing it. This is just the start of things to come I hope – a day when the tide turned against our automobile-centric thinking.

As Christine Rose from the ARC said: “Let’s burn fat, not oil!”

What a fantastic day weather-wise for us, and also thanks to all the Aucklanders who turned up to celebrate Our Bridge. And to NZTA, shame on you for being such narrow-minded fools, it is your fault that the whole motorway got shut off, you could have organised this to run smoothly. Shame on you.

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11 comments

  1. Feeling was amongst our group that the closing of all the lanes was a deliberate action by Transit to make as big a mess as possible, so the protesters looked bad. I seriously doubt the clipons are that flimsy. Did you talk to any of the people waiting at Curran St when we got back? They’d been “detoured” there around the blockage on the main motorway. Spectacular incompetence or deliberate damage control? It’ll be interesting to to see the news coverage tonight.

    Other than that, what an awesome morning!

  2. I was there as well and it was bloody fantastic to be able to walk over the bridge, particularly when I know my grandmother did when it opened.

    What stood out for me was
    – no fear of the large numbers of bikes there – pedestrians and cyclists mingled incredibly well
    – large numbers of simply middle-aged, middle-class people (and lots of children) there signalling this wasn’t the actions of some ‘rabble rousers’
    – the scenery was amazing – walking up towards the North Shore, then down the other side, seeing the harbour and out to Coromandel, and back across seeing the city up close on the left, then the shoreline receeding away up the Waitemata to Te Atatu pennisula – that was pretty amazing
    – the sunny day!
    – the fact that Wayne McDonald had no Plan B! I was very surprised – never go anywhere without a Plan B and he clearly didn’t have one – otherwise it would have been easy to close the two clipons and let the crowd move up those. I hope he loses his job over this.
    – the Police were lovely.

    I’m stoked that I got to go over the bridge – what a feat of urban exploration.

  3. I think that approach will backfire on NZTA. They could have easily set the bridge up in a 2×2 formation I reckon if they wanted to keep us off the clip-ons. It was their terrible planning that led to the whole motorway having to be closed – and I don’t think there really was an alternative once everyone was on the bridge (as in the clip ons had to be kept shut because that’s where people were entering and exiting the bridge, while the main part needed to be kept shut as they didn’t want too many people walking on the clip-ons).

    I can’t wait for the next Get Across protest walk. It will be WAY bigger next time too!

  4. What a great day – it felt momentous to be able to walk across the bridge and what a lovely morning for it! Jervois road cafes were solid afterwards – a truly middle class march and a boon for commerce as well 🙂

    I just watched the TV3 coverage and really, it’s a bit of a joke. I imagine the TVNZ coverage not much better. Several formative experiences experiences with similar actions in my uni years taught me that if a direct action is going to get favourable coverage, it is necessary to seize and hang on to the narrative, otehrwise the media will stick to the ‘naughty lawbreaking hippies’ vs upstanding police’ script. Next time the spokespeople should make sure they take the lead in establishing the spin before the police/traansport authority do!

    (No criticism implied – and I do hope there will be a next time!)

    well done everyone!

  5. We saw the camera chopper as we were coming off the bridge. A cynic might suggest they only got good footage of the traffic jam, so that was what they did a story about.

  6. Yeah that’s about right Chris.

    I thought the TV3 coverage was a joke too – this wasn’t a bunch of fanatics like they were making it out to be, there were people of all ages who just want the chance to enjoy and celebrate our Harbour Bridge.

  7. Interesting in the NZ Herald article on this is that they quote NZTA as saying there is plan to allow pedestrians and cyclists but it will take 30 years to happen…WTF?

    Sounds like some bureaucrats in NZTA are trying to guarantee themselves work until they retire :-), how else can they explain such a patently absurd figure?

  8. John: the story is there will “room for a cycle lane” once the tunnel under the harbour is built in thirty years. Our host may have some insight into whether that’s actually likely to happen, but it all sounds like bullsh!t to me. Although reading about the clip-ons as I wrote my blog last night, it sounds like we might not even have a functional bridge by then.

  9. That 30 year figure is utterly stupid, although I’m in some ways glad that NZTA aren’t planning on wasting $3.5 billion on a road tunnel for another 30 years. NZTA just don’t want to spend a few million on something that isn’t for cars.

    It’s their mentality that needs to be changed. I look forward to more bridge protests until that mentality does change.

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