Aside from the City Rail Link and Light Rail, probably the most exciting and transformational project planned over the next few years in Auckland is SkyPath, a walking and cycling connection across the Auckland Harbour Bridge. SkyPath has had a pretty long and tortuous history, dating right back to a 2009 protest against NZTA’s weird refusal to allow people to walk across the Harbour Bridge to celebrate its 50th birthday. The SkyPath trust then worked for years to push for the project, even setting up a fairly innovative public-private partnership, gaining resource consent which required doing detailed design work.

Over the time that Skypath was developed as a PPP, which would have required walkers and cyclists would pay a toll to cross while cars crossed for free, the importance of good quality active mode infrastructure became recognised by our politicians. Budgets for cycling were significantly increased, particularly by the previous government’s Urban Cycleways Programme. As a result, we ended up with the bizarre situation where Skypath, as the number one ranked cycling project in the city couldn’t get funding but other projects which cost similar amounts could.

Finally, last year the new government committed to building and paying for SkyPath – and it was included in both the ATAP programme and specifically referenced in the Government Policy Statement.

Given the high priority of SkyPath and the urgency to deliver this critical missing link in Auckland’s walking and cycling network, it is worrying that reports from Radio NZ earlier this week suggest that progress is happening much slower than expected – seemingly due to some arguments over intellectual property of the Skypath option:

The project director of Auckland’s proposed SkyPath says the New Zealand Transport Agency will not pay up for intellectual property rights, and has now shut down communication with the original designers…

…Funding for the project has been approved, although a date for completion has not been set.

SkyPath Trust, which designed the proposed pathway, is in a battle to have the agency pay up for the intellectual property rights it owns.

Trust project director Bevan Woodward said he has been trying for a year to get an agreement signed for the rights to the design.

“We’ve been very clear right from the word go that to acquire our intellectual property comes at a cost of $1.6 million plus GST, and that’s what we require to pay the consultants who worked on SkyPath for so many years, on a deferred fees basis.”

SkyPath told the agency about the cost of the project’s intellectual property rights in February last year.

The trust had meet with the agency to share project information as recently as October, and was told an agreement over the intellectual property rights would be in place by Christmas.

Reluctantly, the trust accepted a proposal to get a quarter of the payment up front, and the rest when a detailed business case was signed off.

However, the date for sorting the agreement keeps getting pushed back, and still is not in place.

This was expanded upon yesterday with the revelation the that the NZTA are asking for all the work, for free, or they won’t even consider it. This also has a potential impact on Auckland Ratepayers

The letter demands that the trust gives NZTA “unrestricted access” to its plans, so the agency can contract the consultants the trust has used “without limitation or impediment”.

Or, the agency said it would not include the trust’s designs in those it puts forward for consideration as part of a detailed business case that was being drawn up.

“NZTA is not prepared to commit to paying for the intellectual property rights … (including the consented SkyPath) until the business case phase is complete and an option is selected,” Mr Ratcliffe wrote to the trust.

This was happening behind the scenes, at the same time the Transport Agency was saying publicly that it recognised the valuable work of the trust and was working to settle the dispute about its design.

“It demands we hand everything over for no payment and no commitment of payment,” Mr Woodward said.

“It is manifestly unreasonable.”

Given the Skypath trust did the kind of design and consenting work that NZTA and their predecessors should have done in the first place, decades ago, it’s not unreasonable that they would like to be paid for the information – especially as the money will basically go to experts who essentially worked for free on the project. What’s more, it’s not like they’re strangers to paying for intellectual property as they routinely pay the losing bidders in tender processes for their work. This article from Interest.co.nz is from 2012 and while it might not be the exact same situation, it feels pretty close.

NZTA spokesman Andy Knackstedt says for larger State Highway projects, where tenderers are asked to do significant proportions of the highway design work as part of their submissions, NZTA buys the intellectual property (IP) rights of these tender designs.

“This ensures any value in the tender designs developed by unsuccessful tenderers remains accessible to the NZTA,” Knackstedt says.

“For example, the Waterview Connection project is three times the size of a typical roading project, and unlike other projects, there was little historical data available on tunnelling that tenderers could draw on in preparing their bids,” Darwin added.

I think we can fairly easily say that nothing like Skypath has been built before and so would fit in the “little historical data” category.

But perhaps what’s most worrying about all of this is that it’s leading to more and more delays of what is such a critical missing link. Starting the business case and design process again from scratch almost feels like a deliberate delaying tactic. We know there have been some within the NZTA that have always opposed the idea and so it’s not hard to imagine this being related.

Obviously NZTA needs to do its job and fully assess different options, perhaps given the growth in cycling a different and larger solution is needed, but unless there are any huge red flags with the Skypath proposal it should push ahead.

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74 comments

  1. With this and the Light Rail business case being delayed by months, I’m starting to think NZTA doesn’t really care as much about Auckland’s transport as the Government would like.

    1. I agree, there is a clear pattern emerging. Is it possible NZTA is stalling till the election, in hopes of a more road-friendly administration?

  2. Reading the letter sent by NZTA I got the distinct impression that Skypath is regarded as an irritant foisted on it by politicians and lobbyists and basically this is bureaucrats throwing a tantrum because they think someone else has mowed their lawn.

    The minister needs to give them a sharp reminder of who is in charge.

  3. This does seem rather small minded by someone. Just pay this even if they haven’t finished the business case and they are coming up with a bigger and better design which I suspect could be the case. We probabaly are going to need a two way system. Ie a clip on either side as it will be so popular.

  4. I don’t understand why it’s so hard to write a business case for a consented project that you’ve told to build and been given money to do so. It’s not like there’s any difficulty justifying it or anything.

    Duplicating the work already done by the trust is just a waste of time and money. Just buy the rights and if possible contract members of the team.

    1. Unfortunately this is standard when dealing with any government or council organisation. There are so many layers of approval etc mixed with job protection factors that snails pace is seen as too fast.

      Agree that it makes sense for them to pay the trust and continue their work. It does make sense for NZTA to look at it from a future proofing point of view but I worry that this will mean a cost blowout and then it won’t happen. They will now of course need to consider more modes of transport such as escooters. Maybe they should to the design part for the other side at the same time but not implement it.

      I never really got why anyone was against the skypath concept. I think it would be a great addition to Auckland with no negatives, and I am not a cyclist.

  5. I’m becoming more and more despondent with this Government, especially when it comes to sustainability issues (where are those EV incentives etc). Anyone can say they are stopping Gas Exploration in 20 years time, when another Government can come in and stop it or ban plastic bags in a world where literally every other Country in Europe has already done this, but even with the Green Party in Government things like LR and Skypath are just allowed to be dragged along by an Agency that clearly wants to stall in hope a road building Government gets in.

    It can’t be that hard to plan this out, it’s already been designed, even if a rejig is needed, 2km of path on an already built bridge hardly has the same complications as Light Rail. If the Government want it built surely they can get it done?

      1. How about those that James Shaw promised would be here “soon” –
        – September 2018…

        “The Government will soon offer incentives to New Zealanders looking to purchase electric vehicles, to move people away from traditional cars that burn fossil fuels.

        “What we’re trying to do is get a package that incentivises your middle class people to be able to do that, but also ensures that low income families aren’t left behind,” Climate Change Minister James Shaw told The AM Show. ”

        https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2018/09/government-promises-decent-incentives-for-electric-cars.html

      2. Fee-bate.

        All vehicles evaluated for all emissions including CC and given a rating.

        All vehicles then incur a fee or receive a rebate pro-rata to where they land on this scale. Revenue neutral, ie the fees on the stinkiest vehicles fund the rebate on the cleanest.

        Not just EVs, though obviously they will score the best (and smaller ones even more, and cheaper ones this will make the most difference). Lighter cleaner ICE will do better, or perhaps be neutral compared to horrible big ones and carcinogenic diesel… etc

        So this protects against ‘middle class capture’ of just subsidising all evs, also penalises worst imports (including 2nd hand), But means cheapest cleaner vehicles still in reach to low income households (if not evs until they come down in price further, but will accelerate that day).

        Only downside is a bit fiddly, and open to arguments about exact rating, but that ought to be sortable.

        -> Politically viable… if properly backed by whole govt…?

        1. Fee-bates are regressive in that they reward those who can afford a new vehicle at the expense of those who can only afford a used one. The latter group is actually a very large number of people.

          Plus the most gas-guzzling vehicle types can’t be replaced with low emissions alternatives yet. How many hybrid or full electric models are there of the following:
          Vans? 1 (Nissan NV200)
          Utes? 0
          Vehicles with >7 seats? 0

        2. “Vehicles with >7 seats?”
          Had a ride in a 68 seater EV the other day.

          Anyway, excluding buses:
          LDV do an EV van that can be fitted out as a minibus and also available as just cab & chassis (which I guess could be configured as a ute with the addition of a tray).

          HIgh end EV pickup trucks are available in the US but not (AKAIK) here (yet).

        3. Haha yes gk you’re right about buses, and each one could replace hundreds of ICE cars.

          I didn’t know about the LDV electric van, thanks for pointing it out.

        4. I think the question is, how many of these types do we actually need (In Auckland) ! Living in Grey Lynn i’m constantly dodging the 6 litre Diesel SUV’s with one person in them..I’m sure they use a keep cup when going to get a coffee though which makes them feel better about such things!! 🙂

    1. Its is disappointing yet the govt is quite popular according to the polls. Perhaps the people just like governments to do nothing. Off course there is a bit more money around with the working for family’s and rising minimum wage. Notice those awful dairy robberies seem to have stopped. Also the failure of the Government to respond to the Jamie Lee farce probably helped. But a little bit more urgency on the environmental front would be appreciated. After all they are meant to be in charge. Not to sure about EV incentives spend the money on electrifying the buses. People who can afford to buy electric cars shouldn’t have a subsidy. I think its up to corporate and government departments to lead the ev charge. Particularly the corporate as they are behind a lot of the emissions.

      1. Nearly every country going appears to have some sort of incentive, even if its Rego exemption. Yet Green old NZ can’t do something simple, even if its a token gesture.

        If the world is serious on cutting emissions what we really need my comrades, is a Soviet era style mass production of no thrills EV’s that come in under 8k ..the new Yugo or Lada! Build EV’s not Tanks should be the new slogan.

        Jokes aside, we need to start thinking outside of the ‘the Market will decide’ box if we want to be serious on climate change…

      2. I agree buses should come first – ban new diesel buses and subsidise regional councils for electrics. But what about people who can afford to buy excessively polluting vehicles and do so – should they be allowed to not pay for the consequences? Most countries with policies on transport emissions include heavy charges for new ICE vehicles – Ireland 36%, Norway 100%, Denmark 150% – as well as fleet emission standards.

      1. How so is it worrying?

        As gk said, KR management were completely hell bent on ditching electric locos on a fanciful notion is would on its own completely rationalise the fleet of dozens of different locos already to a common type.
        As we all reckon about that ever happening or coming true: Yeah. Right!.

        In any case, KiwiRail just like KiwBank, is a SOE, as such it can be directed to provide social outcomes by the Government of the day – its fully legally and allowed for in the Acts of Parliament that control SOEs. And the Government is expected to pay the SOE for the additional cost to the SOE of achieving the desired social outcome.

        And for which KR is being compensated for the alleged “higher” operational costs it faces by continuing running electric locos, as well the refurbishment costs of the electric locos which KR wanted to scrap.

        But its not like a Government Minister meddling in his portfolio’s operations.

        This is more like the Minister acting as a parent and stopping the child (KiwiRail) from doing something detrimental to its safety and long term health. Such as running out into traffic.

        Perfectly acceptable, if only we had more such SOE directives around the place we might get some proper social outcomes from these SOE’s that justify why the Government bothers to keep them around.

        If the Chair and Boards of the SOEs don’t like being directed to provide Socially beneficial outcomes, then simply don’t become a board member of any SOE.

  6. The entire Urban Cycleways Programme is a shambles. The government has been in office for 18 months has basically done nothing.

    I don’t see why “Skypath” is particularly special, There’s a lot in backlog not moving

    1. The major difference is that Skypath has been taken over by NZTA, whereas the impasse on practically every other part of the Urban Cycleways Programme is being caused by AT, so there’s that difference.

      1. It’s all public sector delays, GI to Tamaki has also been taken over by NZTA is is going nowhere.

        All talk, no delivery. Not good enough

  7. Its interesting, that when the Skypath consent hearings were being held that NZTA experts all stood up one by one in front of the hearing commissioners, and basically stated that the proposed Skypath and said this was the best solution available to adding walking and cycling across the bridge.

    And would not in anyway compromise the structure or impact bridge maintenance.

    Now that NZTA is running the project the whole previously consented design is now up for review?

    Seems that if its someone elses money funding the project NZTA is fairly flexible.

    When its their money [no matter how chickenshit an amount] NZTA needs a full-blown “treat it like an 8 lane RoNS” i.e. every option plus the kitchen sink has to be considered first before agreeing to go with the original design.

    The handover the IP or else thing is just part of a NZTA delaying tactic. Because by not having the IP signed over they can say “well we have a blank slate so we now have to re-evaluate all options”. So by only agreeing to buy the IP if the original design still stacks up (without actually seeing/having all the IP Skypath have on their design) you can ensure you will not end up with the consented version of the Skypath being proposed, or able to be built without even more hearings.

    Likely we will end up with some different (maybe cheaper, maybe not), but not necessarily the most appropriate design. But it will take 5 more years to happen.

    And the present design stays on the eastern side of the bridge as that clipon is less loaded, the western clipon carries more freight (containers), so has little “Freeboard” for adding more structural weight to the clipons on that side.

    Of course some in NZTA simply want to tie the “new” bridge crossing to the Skypath [the old idea of repurposing the eastern most lane on the bridge once the new crossing is built] so this idea is dragged up again. Then all bets are off because then you have no chance of NZTA agreeing to build anything on the current bridge before the new crossing opens in that scenario.

    1. Some bureaucrats are more interested in processes than outcomes. Obviously some of them work for NZTA. They don’t care about creating an inferior outcome (the delay itself is suboptimal) so long as they methodically followed their process.

      NZTA has circumvented their own processes before: In response to the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes. NZ’s sedentary population and high per-capita carbon emissions are emergencies of similar magnitude.

      Every time I see a Herald article about someone caught walking, cycling or e-scootering over the bridge I see it as an act of protest at the absence of proper facilities. A shame more people don’t do it.

      1. High carbon emissions are absolutely not the same as major infrastructure rebuilds following once-in-a-lifetime natural disasters and claiming so is plain hysteria.

        1. I diagree. We’re spending billions of dollars to offset our carbon, when that money should be being used to transform our transport industry. 82% increase in transport carbon emissions between 1990 and 2016 is an infrastructure failure of immense proportion.

          More people are dying as a result than died in the earthquakes.

        2. As a country we’ll have to reduce our carbon emissions sooner or later. This will cost billions of dollars and result in a lot of economic disruption. The sooner we take significant steps forward the cheaper and less disruptive it’ll be.

          And yes NZ makes a tiny contribution to world emissions. However we can hardly expect other countries to do what we aren’t willing to do ourselves. Also our small size and (relatively) agile regulatory environment means that we can test solutions and then export them.

        3. What’s our contribution to emissions on a per-capita/area basis?

          I am guessing we are performing above our station, and not in a good way.

      2. I have heard a first-hand account of someone successfully crossing the harbour bridge on a xiaomi escooter in January 2018, before escooters were so newsworthy.

        Police only caught up to them once they’d made it to Fanshawe st.

        They were new to the city and completely naive to the lack of cycle/pedestrian infrastructure across the bridge until it was too late and they were doing it.

        Similarly a colleague, also new to the city, went to the shore to buy himself a bike. He called me in stunned confusion when he got to Northcote point and realised he couldn’t bike across.

    2. I quite like the sound of repurposing the eastern lane. Chuck up a sound barrier wall and job done. If necessary lower the vehicular demand on the bridge by reinstating a toll – WRR is operational now.

      Build the wall and make the cars pay for it

  8. Yeah, good point about the structural constraints dictating the design when Skypath were doing it, and now there’s suddenly flexibility.

    The article with the letter in it has unfortunately disappeared from RNZ’s website – all links lead to a Kiwibuild article now – but what I noticed when I read it before was that NZTA was implying that they’d only have to pay for the IP if they chose the Skypath design.

    That’s incorrect. Anything that led to that design is IP; they’d have to pay for it if in any way it informs the business case. Any modelling, calculations, branding, design work, working drawings is IP belonging to the Skypath Trust. I hope the trust understands this. The fact that NZTA asks for it for the business case shows its value, and shows that it is not in the public domain.

    The reason that it’s good to pay all bidders for their tenders is to remove risk around IP issues. Pay for it, you can use any aspect of it, and can do a well-balanced business case based on all the information, all the hard work. If you don’t pay for it, you have to design not only in a way that avoids the design of the work you’re not paying for, but all the IP that led to that design.

    NZTA’s position actually ensures a sub-optimal design will eventuate as they avoid the risk of using any of this IP.

    This stinginess of a government agency to stomp on the hard work community advocates did when NZTA should have been doing it themselves beggars belief.

  9. Perhaps you’ve asked the wrong question – maybe it should be “What is happening with a walking and cycling path over the Waitemata Harbour”.

    Pedantic maybe, but NZTA are now finally tasked and responsible for investigating and finding a solution to this very tricky engineering question and until they have done that, the Skypath design is not necessarily the answer.

    The Skypath Trust boldly tried to force authorities into building a long-awaited crossing, but they eventually overstepped and have now found themselves in a difficult place, partly through naivety and partly by a looking glass Auckland Council, whose Chair and Councilors (unanimously?) believed in the Trust’s Alice in Wonderland business case – in the long run we can hopefully be thankful that the PPP fell over early when Downer pulled the plug, but not early enough to save preliminary costs.

    NZTA are tasked with building a longevity solution that is safe, free to access and which seamlessly links to pathway networks. The consented Skypath design does not achieve this and that’s why we are now in a hole while they figure it out.

    1. Can you explain what exactly is so tricky when it’s already been designed?

      Can you explain why the Skypath doesn’t achieve the aims to which you set out…other than the lack of parking in residential areas of Northcote!!

    2. Would this be the same Jeremy Richard as the rather self-important fellow who heads the ludicrously titled “Little Shoal Bay Protection Society”?

      if so, I think the readers can draw their own conclusions

      1. What is ludicrously titled about the “Little Shoal Bay Protection Society”? That’s what they do – beach clean-ups, bush-plantings, protecting the park from destruction by developers etc.

        Auckland needs more engaged groups like this if you ask me.

        1. Completely agree on most of their points, we absolutely need protect what we have..but it’s about balance and discussion and not just NO NO NO..that’s exactly what I NIMBY is. I just can’t fathom the irony, I see the group are hell bent on fighting off residential development in the area to protect the environment, when the reality is stopping inner City (it is inner Auckland) growth just means someone else’s environment e.g productive farmland in Pukekohe gets developed over.

          Both development and protection should be managed together..its growing City after all.

          Protectionism aside when you read the article and see ‘Mr Richards, a Northcote Pt resident’ you question whether he is protecting Little Shoal Bay or his property and parking space? I’m not going to speculate, only Mr Richards can answer that.

        2. Thanks gk and joe for the info. It’s good to see groups mobilise to protect public spaces and the environment, but not when they are used to push someone’s agenda. To me green spaces and cycling go together as naturally as fish and chips.

    3. NZTAs engineering experts all agreed at the hearings that the proposed Skypath was the most suitable option to get walking and cycling onto the existing bridge.

      And they also agreed it was a totally superior design to the one they proposed of using the easternmost clip on lane – which of course, was an option only once the new harbour crossing was built to take traffic off the current bridge. And that was so far in the future it wasn’t even going to happen in the next 20 years in all likelihood.

      So NZTA are basically rewriting their own history by refusing to back the Skypath design now.
      Not much has changed, nor have the range of alternative options for utilising the bridge changed.

      No need to start again from scratch. Unless NZTA suddenly want to tear down and then (re)build a whole new massive new clip on to replace the Eastern clip on or some such mad idea.
      Hanging the Skypath off the bridge is the only option. And NZTAs own engineers demanded any such facilities be as light as possible to minimise the load on the clipons.

      Really, its a delaying tactic and nothing else. And is a straw man to allow the renegade action of the die hard NZTA lifers to resurrect the tunnelled crossing plan and push it into urgency.

      You got to think that now NZTA has built Waterview they have discovered a real liking for tunnels and Tunnel Boring Machines and what they add to their CVs or something, so they want to keep building more of them no matter the cost or whether they are the best solution.

  10. NZTA ara proving to be a problem child are they not. Utterly tired up in their own bureaucracy and even then rail the achieve basic objectives.

    Twyford needs to break some heads urgently. Their chain dragging on light rail is also a mockery

  11. Skypath os a daft idea. Just build a new low bridge for public transport, cycling and walking. It would be flatter, quieter and far more convenient. Best of all is it would result in deafness for users.

  12. I think it is entirely reasonable to expect NZTA to pay for the IP associated with getting the project to it’s current state, especially if the trust are not personally benefiting and the debt relating to professional services that have moved the project forward would not necessarily transfer when the IP transfers.

  13. After National came into office in 2008 and transport policy took a sudden lurch backwards, I remember thinking that if we can just vote them out in 3 years then things can be restored to normal. In terms of shovels and ground, not much appeared to happen during their first term.

    When National won a second term in 2011 it became clear to those opposed that a quick ‘return to normal’ was not going to happen and optimistic expectations for this melted away. At the same time, the government became more emboldened in its strategy and concrete evidence began to appear on-the-ground.

    On winning their third term of office in 2014 the government was utterly confident in its policy of committing large sums of the next generation’s money to a few poor-business-case motorways while neglecting just about everything else, but by this time, those hoping for a change had become largely demoralised.

    But. . . . pride cometh before a fall, and in 2017 National was stopped in its tracks.

    Now, the process is happening in reverse. We are still in that cautious, tentative, first-term period with our new government, and those opposed (including many Govt-department and SoE managers who were so empowered by the previous administration) are hanging out for a change back to their idea of normal at the next election. If National loses this, then I predict a repeat of the above process:
    i) The current government will become emboldened, ii) opponents will drop their expectation that a “change back” is imminent and will progressively be squeezed out of positions-of-influence, and iii) stuff on-the-ground of the sort that most people here want to see, will start happening in earnest.
    If National gets back in then all the indications are that we will head backwards again.

    A lot hangs on the 2020 election, and those disinclined to vote because they don’t believe they can make a difference need to open their eyes now!

  14. I actually do feel there’s some value in reassessing if Skypath is the best solution. Times have changed since it was devised. We’ve seen significant growth in people cycling, and e-scooters have arrived which weren’t even in the picture back then. Also, there has been a shift in the political climate that could mean a greater likelihood of reallocating traffic lanes.

    Do we need something bigger and more permanent, perhaps allocating a whole clip-on to active modes and building a structure around it to provide weather protection. At the northern side it could naturally follow the line of the bridge and connect directly to Seapath, which would also have the benefit of not having anything to do with the Northcote Point angry brigade.

    The problem is I don’t believe NZTA are reassessing because they share these thoughts. They are reassessing simply to stall and avoid having to do anything at all.

    1. I often thought if Skypath was the better solution instead of reallocating traffic lanes. If a whole clipon was removed from traffic then would there be sufficient lane space for both two light rail lines and width for active modes?

    2. Which is better? Upset a small group of residents or all bridge users?
      Agree that with Seapath most commuters would continue on rather than descend to Northcote point which should keep residents happy (well as happy as they can be). There should still be an exit there though as it is a nice destination for the non commuters or walkers.
      Surely NZTA should just pay the costs and get on with building Skypath.

      It would be a fun e-scooter ride!

  15. A good article, thanks. Regarding your last point… “unless there are any huge red flags with the Skypath proposal it should push ahead”. We at SkyPath Trust fully agree.

    NZTA had Monk Mackenzie (architects to Light Path) and Beca (engineers for the Bridge) review SkyPath late last year and there were no signicant issues, just some minor tweaks. This was no surprise, before we went for consent a number of comprehensive reviews of the design options took place. What we now refer to as the SkyPath design was clearly the superior design. The design reviews involved NZTA, Auckland Council and Auckland Transport and expert consultants.

    In preparation for lodging SkyPath’s resource consent, NZTA issued a statement advising “NZTA has no alternative plans for a walkig and cycling facility across the AHB.”

    If they find another design then it will take a number of years to get consented. I sometimes get the feeling that NZTA’s mantra for projects they don’t like is… a project delayed is a project denied.

    1. Thanks Bevan for the clarifying comment and for all your efforts to date.

      You are a true hero to many of us here in Auckland.

      Your comments do definitely echo what I saw and heard at the consent hearings as well.
      It is good to hear that a recent review of your designs has found that still to be the case.

      Skypath design is the most appropriate, practical and was, is and will remain, for the foreseeable future, a superior solution. NZTA said exactly this, a hundred ways from Sunday at the hearings.

      So I cannot imagine what better option NZTA now have in mind, or if they even have an idea of any other option in the wings. There are almost no alternative options, given the present constraints NZTA placed upon any designs before they can be place on the bridge structure.

      Now if NZTA want to relax some of their restrictive rules about weight loads and such on the bridge structure which they have steadfastly refused to consider up to now, well and good. But come out and bloody well say so.

      So NZTA – don’t hide the obvious changing of the goal posts behind a big smoke screen of “IP rights”, and then eventually announce to all, after long delays:
      “Surprise! Skypath design lost out, we have a “better” design now thanks to some [unannounced] rule changes!”

      All the while ignoring the tremendous additional consenting costs and delay that any alternative design will require. So by trying to save a few million in IP, they will cost the taxpayer [and Auckland ratepayers] collectively 10’s of millions of additional costs and years more of further delays.

      NZTA is acting in a totally out of line and punitive fashion here with their “give us your IP or else” behaviour. You are right to withhold the IP from them until they agree to compensate you for it.

      Many of the folks who gave up their time to do all the hard work to get the consent deserve to be paid. Hell they all should be given a Gong, and you knighted for services to cycling and walking!

      There is no doubt that with all the recent “safety” issues in the wider transport sector – issues, that NZTA have directly allowed by their determined, decade or so policy of a softly, softly, “hands off” safety policy, that means they are presently reaping what they sewed there. Exactly, what was predicted would occur. But still providing a reminder that NZTA showing that it as an organisation is “unsafe at any speed”.

      As a result, NZTA are now totally gun shy and clearly, very belatedly running around slapping double and triple strength safety audits and such on everything they could be held liable for.
      Even if that response is completely out of line in some case. As it clearly is here.

      But it seems to me that either NZTA simply knuckles down and gets on with it, or they step aside and let someone else do it.

      Yes, it might be “their bridge”, but NZTA do owe an awful lot to the walking and cycling populace of Auckland. Especially as for the past 60+ years or so of injustice – since before the bridge even opened, they and their predecessors continually denied their rights by refusing to accept walking and cycling as valid modes that should be catered for on the bridge.

      Skypath is, and was, supposed to be a big part of that atonement process as a part of finally rectifying that injustice. decades after the fact.

      And in law there is a widely known principle that Justice delayed, is Justice denied.

      And access and thus justice has been collectively so very badly delayed and thus denied here.

      The harbour bridge is coming up to its 60th anniversary later this year. Will we be any closer to getting across the harbour on foot or two-wheels anytime before that 60th anniversary comes and goes?

      I hope so, but unless the Government starts seriously banging heads and kicking arses within NZTA, it presently seems very unlikely.

      And it all seems right now, such access is as far away now, as it has seemed for most of the last 60+ years.

      1. How about we look at what all the advocates for bringing safety and choice back to our transport networks receive of public money. The thousands of volunteers banging their heads against the brick wall of an entrenched motor industry that has its claws on transport funding and won’t let go.

        Europe has calculated the subsidy to driving there is 500 billion euros a year. That’s a lot of money. Meanwhile both cycling and walking more than pay for themselves. In NZ we know that walking and cycling investment returns $10 for every $1 invested.

        Yet NZTA is so biased against anything but driving, it’s like trying to squeeze milk from a stone.

  16. Their design for lightweight carbon fibre tubes being slung underneath the clipon is no longer. The NZTA design is a self supporting steel structure only attached to the piers with the path at road level. This is obviously far more traditional, simple and shouldn’t be a problem to find multiple contractors who could fabricate and erect it. I’d blame wellington for the holdup.

      1. Any “road level” path would however expose its users be they, walkers, cyclists or e-scooterists to excessive levels of noise, exhaust pollution and wind and weather.

        If you want to have a expensive piece of pathway no one will ever want to use, build Skypath at road deck level where its unwelcoming and exposed to all the vagaries of the typical Auckland weather.

        Where its planned, tucked under the eastern clipon, users will still be exposed to levels of noise, some pollution and wind and weather but at much reduced levels.

        And it will be be usable when its windy or rainy, unlike a road deck-level solution.

  17. What a croc. The Skypath Trust was given over 2m dollars of public funds already, in the name of helping them develop design. Beven should come clean about the money he has already received and who exactly are the members of the trust.
    An original member was Alex Swney, a convicted fraudster of public funds. Questions also surround how many trust members had vested interests when making previous payments and decisions.
    And at the end of the day, all Skypath Trust ever came up with were some sketches. That is not a detailed design.
    Would you support an IP claim if someone draw a sketch of a tunnel under the harbour and demanded millions when it is eventually built?

    1. So tell me Sue,

      What exactly has NZTA come up with recently, despite them receiving at least 20 times more “public funding” over the last 10 or more years to investigate the provision of both SkyPath and SeaPaths?

      Beyond “a few sketches” that is. Hmm, not much there either really is it. Certainly no detailed designs as you would call them.

      And I can guarantee you that NZTA spent more than whatever Skypath trust received from the public purse on “consultations” with the locals either side of the harbour for their “set of tunnels” – that have gone precisely nowhere despite spending an inordinate amount of money on route protection.

      Groups on both sides of the present bridge argue in essence that nothing can or should be built because it might cause parking and traffic.

      And as I recall, one of those groups (the NRA), has itself got a long history of secrecy and poor governance practises. And for all I know they may well have some convicted crooks on their committee. They certainly run the place like a mafia so I gather from those who I have spoken to who have been drummed out of that organisation for daring to ask for proper representation as per the organisations constitution.

      So pot, meet kettle.

      1. “Anyone in the legal profession would understand that these are not the same two projects and therefore no question of IP applies.”

        – wrong

        There should be no question of IP rights, unless the final design is an exact replica of the drawings from the Trust.”

        – wrong

        As I said above, anything that led to that design is IP; they’d have to pay for it if in any way it informs the business case. Any modelling, calculations, branding, design work, working drawings is IP belonging to the Skypath Trust. NZTA’s position actually ensures a sub-optimal design will eventuate as they avoid the risk of using any of this IP.

  18. It seems a simple and obvious solution to me. once a business case for this is established, NZTA could tender the project and then pay for the IP of the winning tender. That way Auckland gets the best walking/cycling solution (which may or may not be the existing Skypath Trust design) and tax payers get the best value for money.
    Reading the above comments, it does seem a bit strange that someone that did only sketches and was widely out on cost estimates, should have any IP at all worth buying.

    1. Who is the party that only did sketches? The Skypath trust got resource consent. I know most people don’t truly understand what goes into resource consent, but surely most people know that you need fairly detailed plans.

  19. Yesterday Julie Anne Genter urged “both parties to get back round the table to work out a mutually beneficial solution.”

    We hope that NZTA is willing to meet on this basis. We still believe that Aucklanders walking and cycling across their Harbour Bridge by 2021 is achievable. Let’s see if NZTA are of the same mindset.

    Radio NZ has provided a useful update here:
    https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/383934/skypath-stoush-prompts-government-to-step-in

    1. Any clip-on, above or underneath will almost certainly be on the east simply because this side of the bridge is subject to lower loadings than the western side.

  20. I live in Northcote Point and it’s an understatement to say that after the excessive amount of roadworks and roadmarking and annoying reconfigurations to the area to make way for the SkyPath, I am pissed off that NZTA would step in at the 11th hour and squish the whole thing – FOR WHAT?? I demand an update, I am extremely disappointed with NZTA for holding up something so crucial to Auckland being attractive to tourists and being made accessible, walkable and cyclable for residents. WE WANT TO GET OUT OF OUR CARS. YOU’RE STOPPING US.

  21. We’ve had a productive meeting with NZTA today (our first meeting in 6 months!) We have agreed to commence a facilitated process to resolve the issue of SkyPath’s IP and we welcome the opportunity to support the new design put forward by NZTA.

    On this basis we think it is appropriate to call off the SkyPath rally planned for this Sunday.  We don’t like to mess people around but the developments today came as a surprise – and as a result of our plan to rally.  We now welcome the opportunity to work with NZTA to help deliver a remarkable facility for Auckland.

    1. Bevan, thanks to you, and to those others around you who actually did something, that showed against the prevailing orthodoxy, and considerable vested interests, at that time, was that getting a cycling and walking link across the harbour was both feasible and eminently desirable. Thank you. That the now proposed better enlarged skypath is different, is only because of your team’s work initiated the process that allowed the thinking, and much more importantly, the resources, to do it even better.

  22. Ahh – the good old censorship of Greater Auckland blog mods…
    I wonder if Bevan actually called of his protest because he learnt that the independent investigation into NZTA’s dealings with The Skypath Trust exonerated the Government agency from any wrongdoing. The report was also clear in finding no agreement had been entered into by NZTA to buy Skypaths IP….. bye bye all that money Bevan

    1. We have played a crucial role in getting a world class SkyPath for Auckland. We’ve had a productive meeting with NZTA and have agreed to commence a facilitated process to resolve the issue of SkyPath’s IP so we’re very happy. On Sunday I can go sailing instead of marching.

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