It has been interesting, if a little annoying, over the past couple of days to see the fallout from Sunday’s Harbour Bridge Crossing. Interestingly, the NZ Herald has actually been one of the better reporters of the whole incident, with plenty of photos, a controversial story that relates to “when’s this happening next” (you can even see me in the photo for that story) and even a nice personal story about someone who crossed the bridge 50 years ago when it first opened and finally managed to cross it again yesterday. However, the TV news has generally been pretty negative about the whole thing – both TVNZ and TV3 – which is rather disappointing.

I don’t think Get Across have helped themselves particularly much either in the last 24 hours or so. It seems like they were so bewildered by the passionate support they got that they’re really not sure where to go next. Should they get in behind all those who crossed the bridge and lump the blame on NZTA, or should they try to distance themselves from those who crossed the bridge so that they can try to restore a better relationship with NZTA? I agree it’s a pretty tricky situation for them, but unfortunately they have been stuck in the middle a bit, with the best quote from them being in relation to another protest in the future “making this one look like a walk in the park”. That gives me a lot of hope that this won’t be one-off event and that eventually we will get what we want: a permanent walking/cycling way across the Waitemata Harbour.

It is interesting to have a good look through the Get Across website in a bit of detail, as they have clearly put a lot of thought into their movement, and have come up with a pretty detailed design. A few photos from their website of a possible walkway/cyclway are included below:

bridge-2 bridge-4

bridge-1 bridge-3

Now I’m a bit 50/50 on whether it should be an indoor link or an outdoor one. I imagine an indoor one (like what is proposed above) would certainly be preferable in that it would protect people from the wind and rain and would potentially be safer. However, an outdoor one would certainly make you feel much more connected with the bridge and connected with being in one of the most scenic spots in Auckland. Enjoying the weather (which admittedly was fantastic) and the view was a large part of what made yesterday’s walk so awesome.

NZTA will tell you that this option is impossible, and that any walkway/cycleway that is added to the Harbour Bridge will significantly reduce the life-span of the clip-ons. However, with a bit more digging it is clear that this is simply not true – and NZTA themselves have admitted this as recently as last year. Let’s have a look at what NZTA have said in the past about this:

  1. Transit CEO advised Parliament’s Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee in a letter, dated December 11, 2007: “the work required inside the clip-on box girders to enable the walkway/cycleway will be included in the upcoming upgrade of the clip-ons.”
  2. May 2008 LTNZ Board Paper (Agenda No. 6c), advised in paragraphs 7 & 8:
    “Transit NZ has undertaken some investigation to to ascertain whether whether future proofing for a walkway/cycleway is possible during the upgrade. While carrying out structural analysis of the AHB, Transit included a loading case involving a cycleway/walkway. The analysis found that a cycleway/walkway, which partly used the existing carriageway and also included a slight extension on the operating width, was structurally feasible.”
  3. Bryan Jackson, NZTA Board member wrotes in a letter to ARC’s Christine Rose, 19 May 2008:
    “…structural elements will be incorporated into the current strengthening works to future-proof the clip-on lanes and allow for future walking and cycling options on the box girders.”
    “the purpose of the structural upgrade of the clip-on lanes is to ensure they stay in good condition for the next 20 to 30 years. I assure you that these works do not preclude the addition of a walking and cycling facility.”
  4. The May, 2008 Transit Board Paper 6173 “AHB Strenthening project” states in Item 4:
    “Through innovative thinking, further structural elements have been incorporated into the current strengthening works at relatively low cost to future proof for future walking and cycling options
  5. Transit CEO, Rick van Barnevelt writes in a May 14, 2008 letter to Hon Judith Tizard:
    “Transit acknowledges that the provision of appropriate access for cycles and walking across the Waitemata Harbour is a priority for the Auckland region”
    “Provision of a walkway/cycleways is one proposal that will help the Auckland region increase the mode share of walk and cycling, which is a key requirement of the draft Updated New Zealand Transport Strategy”
    “Given the likelihood that the next Waitemata Harbour Crossing will be a tunnel the Auckland Harbour Bridge strengthening project must specifically include the detailed provision for a future walkway and cycleway
    Structural elements have been incorporated into the current strengthening works to future-proof for walking and cycling facilities on the box girders

So on a huge number of occasions NZTA have previously stated that provision for walking and cycling would be part of the upgrade to the clip-ons.  Clearly it is possible from an engineering perspective, otherwise they would never have even raised the chance, it’s just a lack of will on their behalf. I wonder how many times protestors will have to  shut down the motorway before they re-assess that position?

Share this


  1. I favour the simple option.

    A one lane, open cycleway/walkway on one of the clipons (probably the upstream one). Take the lane from cars, and drop the speed limit on the shared lane for safety.

    If traffic clogs too much, introduce a congestion charge and put some of the revenue from that into ferry subsidies (or even better free ferries).

    I can’t believe that would cost more than a million bucks.

  2. I think NZTA would have a heart attack at the possibility of losing a lane of traffic. Whilst I agree that driving should be discouraged, I am realistic and I don’t think it’s likely that we would ever see a lane chopped off the bridge.

  3. Mind – someone had the guts to block off several lanes of angry NYC motorists to put in a pedestrian mall in Times Square (where I’ve been). So, while NZTA could have a heart attack, the possibility is there to close a lane of traffic. It’s not that it can’t be done, it’s the will to do it.

  4. Absolutely Chris, the NZTA don’t have the will to do anything but build roads. Getting any environmental mitigation out of them, or provision for walking/cycling is like getting blood out of a stone. They’re dinosaurs from the 1950s.

  5. Why are the NZTA so focused/motivated to build roads? Seriously, who are they and what should they do? I guess I could go and read their website but I’d be keen to hear what your views are.

  6. I don’t have an issue with NZTA building roads if they’re necessary. However, NZTA is now more than just what Transit NZ used to be. NZTA are responsible for wider forms of land transport and therefore providing for walking and cycling are important parts of their job.

  7. So one thing I’ve been thinking about regarding the cycle/walk lanes is that everyone has focused on it being a clip-on lane. Why not just suspend the sucker UNDER the bridge. It’d remove 90% of the structural strain, remove much of the gradiant and it could be left open to the air without the fear of having people jumping infront of cars. Oh and it’d make a great spot to get some fishing done as well.

  8. Safety issues are probably quite important in not putting the pedestrian link underneath. The lack of visibility would make it a pretty scary place if you were confronted by a group of people. I know that was the main reason why it has been decided that a pedestrian link should be at the same level as the roadway.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *