In a month the resource consent hearings for Skypath begin and while we don’t know what the outcome will be, the project had a big boost this week from the release of the council’s RMA report into the application. The project received massive feedback from the public – both directly and through the submission form from Generation Zero. All up over 11,500 submissions were received of which only 159 were opposed and 5 neutral. Many of those opposing the proposal have tried to make it appear that all of Northcote Point was opposed to the project however the map below shows most did not even bother to submit.

Skypath - Northcote support-opposition

Of course in consent hearings the total number of submissions is less important than the content of those submissions and the impact the project has. The council’s planners have considered analysis of the proposal from a number of experts and most importantly, overall they have concluded that the project should be granted consent. Here’s their executive summary.

Skypath - Council RMA Report - Exec Summary 2

The report also delves deeper into the key issues including covering the key points of complaint from local residents such as the visual impact and parking. Below are a few points I’ve taken out of the report.

The council and its experts believe that Skypath will not be a negative and that it will actually improve visual, aesthetic amenity which will have positive social effects on the community.

Skypath - Council RMA Report - Visual Impacts

On the landing, the design for Northcote has changed slightly and it now appears that it will take up less space – further reducing any impact on neighbouring properties. It is now more of a bean shape rather than an oval like previously suggested. The mitigation measures for Northcote are below (click to enlarge)

Skypath - Northcote Design Mitigation

And the Skypath Trust have released some new pictures of what things would look like inside the landing, a few are below. There are some more images from outside here.

Skypath - Northcote Design - Internal

Parking has always been another hot button topic. Residents have long claimed they will be swamped by cars as a result of Skypath despite being reminded again and again that it is possible to manage parking through measures like residential parking schemes – one such scheme already exists just across the water at St Mary’s Bay. I also like this comment from the planner and it’s something we should really see more of

Skypath - Council RMA Report - On Stree Parking

The biggest issue for most supporters will likely continue to be the toll and the opening hours. The toll could make the Harbour bridge probably the first in the world not only to toll cyclists to cross but to do so while allowing cars to cross for free. Unless the Council or Government (more likely) step in and agree to take over the project a toll is the only way the private investors could pay for the construction. As for the operating hours, they are suggested to be limited to between the hours of 6am and 10pm for noise and security reasons. That seems a bit too narrow to me and Imagine if we operated our roads like that. Over 3,000 people mentioned the opening hours in their submissions saying they should be extended with only one person wanting the hours reduced.

Lastly this map highlights the walking and cycling connections on both sides of the harbour that already exist or are planned.

Skypath - connections

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  1. Yeah I agree with the hours issue, some people start as early as 05:00 and cycling to their destination from the shore might require crossing as early as 04:30 and simularly for the night some people finish work as late as 00:00 and might require crossing back to the shore as late as 00:30. Then there is the issue of people going out for a party or etc in town especially on Friday night which might see people wanting to cross even between 00:30-04:30. It really is bizzare to lock down the hours of such a critical crossing imho. Maybe they should make the path 24/7 and restrict cars for those hours, at least cars have an easy alternative going via SH16, where walking and cycling all that way isnt really much of an option.

      1. Publishing submissions is what is regularly done by both central and local govt in resource applications,
        BUT, I dont think I have EVER seen a council publish maps with the locations of who supported and who opposed.

        In thepast, while the address data was publically available, to find it actually required some effort.
        IMHO publishing it in this form is a potentially dangerous thing to do especially for a council,

        Is this now that is expected to happen on any public submission? or has nortcote point been singled out for special attention…

        What impact will this have on future consulation When it is clear that the council is going to easily identify all the objectors supporters on any project and where you can find them,,,

        I would be very interested in the process that council went through to decide to collate and publish this data in map form..

        1. Thank you for stating my main concern more clearly than I did. It is unnecessary and serves no positive purpose. All it does is provide aggrieved groups a quick scan of who is “us” and who is “them”.

        2. That behavior is disgusting. I’m seriously considering ripping up my WCC submittion re cycling network

      2. Although the addresses are publicly available, it would have required some effort to collate them like that. I’m interested in exactly why the council decided to make those maps.

        1. To disprove the meme that “all actual residents of Northcote Point are afraid of cyclists parking their cars on their lawns and then peeing on their flowers”, clearly.

        2. So simply say x% of Northcote point support it or what ever,
          Going to the trouble of drawing up a map to show where supporters and opposers live is frankly a bit creepy,
          and is likely to have a negative impact on members of the public submitting on future issues,

        3. playing with words doloras, looking at the plan, it looks like the majority of the people who have submitted from this area, have actually opposed it. It would be interesting to understand the number, and i believe it is quite high, of people who supported the proposal but don’t live or work anywhere near it and would not be affected by any potential negatives

        4. Has the Council gone through this length to disprove or prove any other claims made in submissions process?

        5. My best guess is that mapping support/objection helps understand the spatial aspect of a submitter’s relationship with the proposal. The RMA has a pretty crude notification toggle from what I can tell – immediate/selected neighbours, then full public notification. Do correct me someone if I am incorrect here.

          When a proposal falls under the latter, full public, I think it is important to understand the nature of people’s concerns in a spatial way, and to factor that into decision making. I hope Council’s behaviour is not name and shame – but I do think a subjective judgement applies as to what the facts of the effects will be in relation to people’s property and neighbourhood. Ignoring this is a pretty blunt and I hope what we are seeing here is a way to getting to grips with the NIMBY factor, whereby the points raised in submissions are tested to some extent as to whether points of view expressed are valid and fair on a spatial basis.

          I think it is fair that people submit from the wider city on a piece of infrastructure with huge potential city-wide impacts, but if locals simply want to prevent change it is important to understand the spatial element in order to make a justifiable decision on real effects.

        6. Yes that was also one of the key the reasons why I posted it. There’s a cluster of objection next to the landing which is expected but after that the results are much more even and more didn’t bother to submit than did

    1. so why don’t Transportblog remove the image then, it would seem appropriate? or are they hoping to find out where Phil lives?

      1. why should TransportBlog remove publicly available information that is relevant to the post?

        1. Transportblog can, of course, do what it pleases.

          I would say, however, that it was distasteful of the council to publish the map, and republishing it tars transportblog with the same brush.

  2. The car only section was tolled for 30 years and then the bridge was paid for, though I don’t know why they didn’t keep tolling it to pay for maintenance and to build a Skypath back then. Anyway, nothing wrong with tolling the walkers/cyclists. It’s a new, separate bridge just for them, why shouldn’t they pay for it?

    1. It’s not “just for them”. There is no “them”. There are people, including yourself. A lot of people drive. Sometimes they might want to cycle and sometimes they might want to walk. Skypath is infrastructure that can be used by people to allow them to do these things.

      Once Skypath is built, if I choose to drive my car over the harbour bridge, increasing congestion, pollution, noise, and wear on the road surface, that will be free. If I choose to cycle, creating next to no environmental impact, improving my health and reducing my potential drain on the public health system, I’ll have to pay. That seems ridiculous.

    2. I agree Ari. The motoring public payed for the road part of the bridge and the ped./cyclists will pay for this. I don’t really see the problem.

      That it wasn’t built in the first place is the silly bit though. Sydney managed it, but not us.

      Bit late for me though, the number of times I’d have liked to have walked home after a late night in town…

      1. “The motoring public payed for the road part of the bridge and the ped./cyclists will pay for this” -So they are two mutually exclusive groups of people? There is no crossover?

        What about all the people who are driving who weren’t even born when the toll was removed? What about the people cycling who paid the toll for 10 years?

        Silly argument.

        1. So they are two mutually exclusive groups of people?
          No, we’re all in the infrastructure funding game together. Someone has to pay for it and I’d have though a small charge was far better than having to wait in the queue for years with the rest of us.

          What about all the people who are driving who weren’t even born when the toll was removed?
          They’re paying road taxes for the maintenance.

          What about the people cycling who paid the toll for 10 years?
          What about them? They’re still free to use the bridge?

          Silly argument.

        2. When did I say I was objecting to the charge? If that is what is required to get good quality infrastructure, I am happy to pay a toll.

          It appears motorists are too. Now we just need to convince the government.

          “What about them? They’re still free to use the bridge?”
          Without SkyPath, only in their car. There need to be other options.

          SkyPath will happen regardless of objections.

        3. Hi five!

          Bit envious tbh, if I can only get a reasonable alternative to sealing our road without AT imposing ridiculous road building standards to it….but i digress.

    3. Well it is us and them. Most disagreements come down to us and them. Us being people who work in the shore and them being those who live in the shore who may actually use the crossing for a walk or cycling to the city. I live in south Auckland and drive over the bridge twice a day. I’ll never use Skypath except once when it opens and maybe every once in a while to take visitors to have a look. It is not ridiculous to charge for a tourist attraction that is privately funded by funders who want ROI.I am happy to pay a toll for that use. Why should I pay more than my fair share? Why should I subsidise other people? I’m already subsidising trucking companies with my fuel taxes and old people with my income taxes. Enough with the damn subsidies!

      Personally I would be fine with a toll after being paid for by general rates. It should have been built in the first place anyway.

      1. I don’t follow. I live in Mt Albert, and work on the Shore some days (actually within 3km of the bridge / proposed Skypath).

        I recently began cycling to my city office and I’d like to be able to carry on when working at this Shore location. Does that make me “us” or “them”? To me it seems like both, meaning “or” is illogical.

  3. Alternatively there should be a way for people to apply for an access card (registered to them) to give them after hours access, that way it remains secure, but still allows people to cross. The concern re: noise is baffling considering it is attached to the motorway which is much louder.

    1. The $35m is privately raised funds. Unless it wasn’t built and the backers decided out of the kindness of their hearts to donate the money to the council it will have no effect on rates.

  4. Those internal photos show that the visibility around those bends will be terrible. I can imagine plenty of pedestrians getting bowled by speeding cyclists. That needs to be improved as could be quite dangerous

    1. interesting point – although sharp bends would naturally reduce cyclists speeds … in terms of potential treatments, I wonder if the design could incorporate some mirrors on that wall?

    2. My view is that it needs to be much wider at the corners.. and potentially include some markings to indicate who should be where (e.g. keep left.. walkers on the outside etc).. The scenario I’d want to avoid is a person walking getting injured by a person cycling too fast (carelessly or not.. maybe just by misjudging the corner) resulting in a “cyclists must dismount” requirement.

      1. Just to be devils advocate, this blog quite rightly calls out roading engineers for building roads that are designed to make it easy for cars to go fast. This is just the same.

        However in the case of Skypath it’s pedestrians that should be the prime consideration, and cyclists that pose the risk to safety. If the design forces cyclists to slow down in the interests of pedestrian safety that’s a good thing.

        1. nick1234.. my suggestion is not to “make it easy for [bikes] to go fast” but, on the contrary, that the design of the path at these points minimises the risk of a collision. The aptly-named Goodwill Bridge in Brisbane does this really well.. hard to see in this image but with a couple of signs and some width and clear sight lines around the corners, walking, running and cycling all go together perfectly well

        2. I don’t see how four right angle turns in rapid succession is designing to go fast, quite the opposite!

        3. There are other features which should keep cyclist speed down too. In the middle section there is a flat part every so many meters for those that night want a rest, that will have the effect of slowing down cyclists going down hill as it won’t be smooth at speed.

        4. Build another one on the west side to grade separate shoes and spokes. Kind of expensive infra answer NZTA would understand…. Give the walkers the city view and the pedlers the westerly.

        5. What about allowing cars on it too so we can drive our visitors up there and stop and take pictures. It would be a great replacement for Mt Eden.

        6. > What about allowing cars on it too so we can drive our visitors up there and stop and take pictures. It would be a great replacement for Mt Eden.

          What’s stopping you from stopping on the existing car lanes? Just pretend you’ve broken down. Chuck the hazards on, let your visitors look at the view while you pretend to work under the bonnet for a couple of minutes. Inconsiderate parking: it’s the Auckland way.

        7. Actually NZTA could build their own one on the west side in competition; undercut the first one, then take it over in fire sale. Cunning.

        8. Can’t build a second SkyPath to the west – the western clipons have no additional load bearing capacity for SkyPath.
          [you’d have to completely ban heavy trucks from the northbound clipon to be able to do it and NZTA won’t go for it]

          The eastern one does have capacity, because the heavy trucks using the bridge are mostly empty when they come south over the bridge, so the clipons on that side have “spare” load bearing capacity.

    3. I was surprised too. Considering this is for the purpose of allowing cyclists to cover the distance faster and safer (away from cars and allowed over the bridge) I would have thought pedestrians and cyclists would be physically separated. If one has to cycle at walking speed it’s kind of an expensive self-defeating exercise. This is what we always seem to get when good ideas are not properly thought through. I hope someone looks into this properly before any money is wasted.

    4. The visibility isn’t bad from what I can see: The walls aren’t solid, so you should be able to see folk coming up the other side. Plus, they run mostly parallel, so you should be able to see them from some distance.

  5. Interesting to see that NO residents near the southern landing opposed skypath (follow link above to map 263)

  6. Whilst I personally am in favour of this I am always astounded by the level of what appears deliberate myopia towards the objectors.

    I attended a couple of meetings on this. The original plans provocatively seriously impacted the residents in the landing area that got their heckles up.

    There are no residents in St Mary’s Bay within several hundred meters of the southern landing area and they are all separated from it by the motorway so hardly a fair comparison.
    All the residents in the northern landing area opposes i.e. Princes St south of Alma. Personally that area is currently so dark and shitty I don’t know why they aren’t more welcoming to the notion but as I understand it their main objections are

    1 People will drive to the area to walk across the skypath and the area can’t sustain that level of parking 2 In order to meet the Skypath usage projections you will have thousands of people transiting an area that currently would probably have no more than a handful of visitors daily (most people didn’t even know it existed until recently)

    At the meetings I attended the Skpath responses were
    1 It’ll never happen 2 Most of the users will be foreign tourists who will walk halfway take a couple of photos and walk back to Westhaven

    Given that level of response and the fact that initially residents access to their property’s were going to be restricted its no wonder they’ve never come on side. It is patently obvious from talking to Skypath and online discussions that most users will be cyclists but it is also risible to suggest that no one will drive down and look to park their cars locally.

    Again personally I think on balance this will enhance the area, drive up property values and it won’t result in the sky falling on their heads. I can hardly wait to use it and I think it’s an enhancement to the city. However I don’t buy into the “best development in Auckland” that I’ve read and I do think their are two sides to the debate but only one has been fairly presented

    I think Skypath initially went with plans they knew they would moderate just so they could claim the moral high ground and have done a fantastic job in doing so. If I’m wrong on this and they did want Plan 1 then their arrogance knows no bounds. Yeah they’re NIMBY’s but other than a few plantings (and the video doesn’t even show the local properties) I don’t really think there was ever any intent to try and win over the Northcote Point residents. The engagement process was all window dressing

    1. “I don’t really think there was ever any intent to try and win over the Northcote Point residents”

      Probably because it would be a futile fight.

      Look, the parking issue is a legitimate one, but – and this has been mentioned time and time again – something that can be managed through a residents permit initiative.

      But you can’t claim that the place will be inundated with cars on one hand and then demand it shouldn’t be built because no one will use it. Its one or the other. If the high point of their argument is that cyclists will pee on their garden, well, I wouldn’t bother engaging either. And I’m all for engagement, usually.

      1. “you can’t claim that the place will be inundated with cars on one hand and then demand it shouldn’t be built because no one will use it. Its one or the other” Totally agree same as you can’t say we need to build it because there’s such a demand and we need x number of users / day to avoid financial failure and then say but no one will use it. I’ve heard both arguments put forward and each are equally preposterous. All I was saying is not all the arrogance, deceit and invective has been from one side, just that one side are far better organised, far better mobilised and far more media savvy. (Some of the residents aren’t savvy at all) But that is no reason to deify one side and demonise the other.
        I really hopes this works, but in order to do so many of the residents fears will have to be realised.

        1. “But that is no reason to deify one side and demonise the other.”

          Thank you for saying that.

      2. if people come to use it by car it wont need many people to visit and the area would be gridlocked. Even if people cycled, the accessible catchment on the norther side cant be that big to get the numbers that they are claiming. The only way i see this being used by lots of people is to include it on the bus route, but this then creates a whole range of problems.

        I haven’t read the proposals but is anyone familiar able to quickly list out how the proposal thinks people will practically be able to get to the walkway to obtain the quoted patronage to the place.?

        I think ped/cycle across the bridge is great, but i think the numbers who will regularly use it will be low due to the issues getting to it and i think tolling wont work as there other cheaper and quicker viable alternatives (excl. tourists). Ultimately i think the proposers know this and as it is being underwritten by someone else who cares, the people will have their bridge, but who will end up paying the bill and if is the ratepayers, is this project being unfairly prioritized above others.

        1. Five minutes research would have answered all your questions.

          Southern end is new waterfront boulevard.

          Northern end is Sea Path.

          Like the Northern Busway and Britomart, I am sure this will exceed all projections for patronage. There are many cyclists from the northern bays lined up to stop taking the ferry and go by bike. The ferries are overflowing with bikes.

          This will be considerably cheaper than the ferry even with the toll.

        2. There are a lot of people that live in Birkenhead, Hillcrest and Northcote that will be a 5-10 minute bike ride from the Northern end. And many more from Glenfield, Birkdale and Beachaven that are a litle furth but still in easy cycling distance for a commute to town.

    2. One of the (legitimate) concerns is that along with pedestrians cyclists will arrive by car with cycles attached. They will need to park their cars and then use their cycles, possibly leaving their cars there all day (if using to commute). There are many arguments back and forth, but if this becomes popular then the quiet streets will obviously change, and this is why the residents weren’t (understandably) thrilled.

      1. More nonsense. If you can’t grasp the irony of opposing a walking and cycling link because of the negative effects of driving, it is hard to take you seriously. But then as a traffic engineer I guess the idea that people can walk or cycle without driving first just doesn’t compute. Parking problems anywhere are obviously best dealt with through parking measures, not by preventing the opportunity to use active modes of transport: Driving causes harm; quick ban walking and cycling. Absurd.

        1. Patrick, go easy with your responses you have missed the point of the previous comment. People aren’t opposing it because they would rather people drive, they are opposing it on the basis that the character and nature of the nearby streets will change as a result of the development. Its a totally different issue.

        2. And its not like those places ever had a bridge (or three), or say, a motorway shoved up their arse recently.

        3. “character and nature of the nearby streets” – Yes we must preserve everything exactly the way it is as they are really open air museums.

          What a lot of bollocks. That area has undergone massive change in the last 60 years. This is just more.

          If you want to be somewhere things never change, move to a small country town. Most are slowly dying as the young people leave and nothing will change as the towns have no money. Paradise!

      2. For commuting it doesn’t make sense to drive to Northcote Point. By the time you reach any access road to Northcote Point you have already spent a lot of time in the queue to the motorway on Onewa Road, at that point you may just as well continue to the motorway in your car.

        For tourists, given how hostile the rest of our streets are to cyclists, the only choice would indeed be driving to the point by car. I’d be wise to go ahead with at least some of the bicycle infrastructure around there as well (like the “Seapath” idea).

        1. “it doesn’t make sense to drive to Northcote Point”


          I cannot think of any significant or famous bridge that I have visited in any city where tourists and visitors looking for photo opportunities cross the bridge first by some other means then walk back to take their pictures. In my own experience people who want photos will walk out halfway from the city end and then walk back to town.

          In comments concerning the Skypath, both here and in other publications, I have yet to see a rational explanation as to why Northcote Point should become congested with tourists. Again, in my own experience elsewhere in the world I have seen no evidence to support this contention.

          I would also note that the streets around Milsons Point and Kirribilli at the northern end of Sydney Harbour Bridge are conspicuously uncluttered by cars with empty bike racks on the back.

  7. I’ve been thinking about the publication of the map. First thought: I think it’s useful to have a geographic breakdown of submissions in support/opposition. I’m not a particularly visual thinker, so I would have put the figures in a table, but others might have an easier time understanding the data in map form. Seems reasonable.

    Second thought: I think the complaints about privacy are over-blown. We commonly publish all sorts of information about our views and locations in public forums (e.g. facebook). And addresses of submitters are commonly published. For the most part, people are reasonable and don’t do creepy things like stalking people they disagree with. I hope that everyone exercises a similar degree of sense in this instance.

    Third thought: Northcote residents may actually be the main beneficiaries of this map. From what I’ve heard (second-hand), Skypath has divided opinion in the neighbourhood, sometimes acrimoniously. Having a map like this may allow people there to have a chat with their neighbours who have also submitted and gain a better understanding of why they’ve supported/opposed the project.

  8. As a Northcote Point resident, visiting tourists local or overseas are very welcome to park street side from our residence to enjoy the Skypath and passing cyclists will be cheered on. If it means not being able to use the road side for parking it would be an extremely minor inconvenience to suffer for a fantastic environmental project and it would validate the success. As had been pointed out, Surrounding residents are the main beneficiaries.

    1. And in short order “Skypath zone” homes there will be outselling in $ terms houses in the “Grammar Zone”. Mark my words.

  9. Has anyone been down to Stokes Point Reserve to watch the fireworks on New Years Eve? About 200-300 people turn up in their cars, which they park anywhere and everywhere they can and they can’t. It takes later arriving cars roughly half an hour to drive around local streets to find the nearest parking space and then get to the point. And then roughly another 30-40 minutes in the choked streets to exit Queen Street onto Onewa Road or worse still, across Little Shoal Bay Reserve. Now I know that not all the projected 780,000 users of Skypath in year 1 (of a 25 year license to operate) will have the same approach as firework fanatics but, the mitigation measures scantily outlined in the resource consent application and dealt with in contemptuous fashion by the RMA are not sufficient to deal with this problem no matter how you spin it. Over a 25 year license we are looking at 25 million plus users of Skypath. Try telling me and the hearings committee that won’t have a materially adverse effect on Northcote Point.

    1. Suck it up Phil. Parking issues can be dealt with with parking solutions. Event issues can be dealt with with enforcement on the odd firework night. Clutching at straws.

    2. Well and if we have some bike infra around there then at least some of those people can turn up on their bike instead.

      Circling around for parking is one of my least favourite ways to spend my time. I’d rather spend 30 minutes riding my bike there.

    3. Yes, things will change. Just as they have many times in the history of Northcote Point.

      I guarantee in 5 years time the only question being asked will be “why didn’t we do this 40 years ago?”

      Do the residents think they own the public spaces outside their house? They are for all Aucklanders, just like my street is.

      I would love to have a steady stream of cyclists and pedestrians on my street – it would feel so much more alive and safe.

  10. I don’t think so – you would have responded more intelligently if you believed what you just wrote. And who the heck is Phil anyway.

    1. Just ask the people of St Marys Bay if parking can be fixed? They live the parking scheme which basically hands over public space to residents. Parking is easy to fix, Northcote residents who suggest otherwise are being ignorant and failing to listen because they are using parking as a cover for other objections such as they just don’t like cyclists.

  11. It is great to see that they do have their thinking caps (that is the Highrackie) ones – if we had listened to Robbie (the mayor of late) – we have done this earlier, not perhaps the cycle track, but widening the bridge, and much more – too many people procrastinate –
    Sounds like some of you are all ‘fuddy daddies” – just look up the history of Northcote Point and see that it was mostly gardens, etc.
    All of you get real.

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