One of the best projects the government announced funding for as part of their NZ Upgrade programme four weeks ago was $360 million in funding for the Northern Pathway SkyPath and Seapath. Construction is expected to start in 2021 and take about 2½ years so it’s also good to see the agency aren’t wasting any time, yesterday announcing they’d already shortlisted two teams to design and build the SkyPath section. They are Fulton Hogan/HEB/Aurecon/Freyssinet and McConnell Dowell/Arup/Rizzani de Eccher.

What is also promising is that the agency has already started a business case to look at extending the path further north from Esmonde Rd and link it to the path being built from Albany to Constellation as part of the Northern Corridor project. That would make a walking and cycling path almost identical in length to Northwestern path which was recently extended to Westgate.

As part of moving forward with SkyPath and Seapath the business cases for each have been released and so with this post I thought I’d look at some of the most interesting aspects from them. Before I get into that, let’s just address the names quickly.

The NZTA are trying to distance themselves from the name SkyPath in favour of the bland “Northern Pathway”, saying the former is “synonymous with a particular design, that’s the danger with it, that the name is associated with a specific design that is not the design that we are going to deliver”. But I doubt they’ll be successful, SkyPath was never about any particular design but about the idea and will live on in the public imagination. So for the purpose of this post, and future posts, we’ll keep using them as they also remain the best descriptors for what each of the two stages of this project are.

SkyPath

As part of solving the problem of walkers, cyclists, whether residents or tourists, not being able to get across the harbour, the business case lists two Investment objectives

  • Increase the mode share of walking and cycling travel to work trips across the Harbour Bridge from 0% to 4% by 2028.
  • Increase the number of daily walking and cycling recreation and tourism trips across the Harbour Bridge from 0 to 2,500 by 2028.

To address this, they say they considered twelve different options including the one consented by the SkyPath Trust and even one that went over the top of the arch of the bridge. As we’ve seen before, the option they considered the best was a 5m wide path alongside the existing bridge (as opposed to over or under it) That would include three observation decks up to 100m long and that extend up to an extra 4.2m wider than the path itself. Another change is that it appears the NZTA want to extend the path all the way down alongside the motorway and means they’ll likely need to buy the remaining handful of houses on the eastern side of the bridge.

With that future connection to Albany, they estimate that by 2046 there is the potential for over 3,500 cyclists and 2,000 pedestrians a day across the bridge. To put that in perspective in January the NW cycleway saw its busiest use to date at just under 2,000 cyclists in a day and annual usage nearly quadrupling in just over eight years. Even more interesting as they say in 2026 the forecast average daily number of cyclists on the Northwestern Cycleway is 1050 – even averaged across the entire year we’re already seeing more than that.

Because of the improved design they say there is no longer a technical requirement to control access in relation to loading like the original SkyPath design had. One of the things they note that supports that high number of users is the effect of e-bikes, which they say increases the potential catchment within a 30-minute cycle to town by around 60%. A breakdown of the volume forecasts is below.

It appears the bridge could end up the single busiest cycleway in the city, so I do hope the agency look at ways to separate pedestrians and cycles.

As mentioned, the path is now expected to continue down alongside the motorway to Shelly Beach/Sulphur Point Boat Ramp but is still expected to have a connection to Princes St in Northcote Point and gives two concept designs with the detail to be worked out in the detailed work now being undertaken.

On the Southern side the design remains similar to what was proposed as with the original SkyPath.

Within the business case the cost of the project has been withheld but they do say it has a Benefit Cost Ratio of 1.3 and stays at or above 1 under a variety of sensitivity tests.


Seapath

Seapath is expected to be a mostly 4m wide and about 4km long shared path from the bridge through to Esmonde Rd. Like above with SkyPath , I worry about there not being enough separation between pedestrians and cyclists and worry we’ll see conflict issues such as we’re seeing on the NW Cycleway right now.

Perhaps the thing that stands out to me the most about the preferred design is that involves a significant amount of bridge structures, with 1,351m of bridges and another 414m of boardwalk. This includes a bridge over the entire Onewa Interchange.

The bridge structure is approximately 800m in length including all ramps and bridges spans across the motorway on and off ramps. These bridges structures would place the shared path above the motorway level for its entire length which improves the user experience of the facility by providing better vantage points, increase noise and air pollution separation from motor vehicles and improves the resilience level of the facility for walking and cycling.

Some more detail is in this alternative image. One thing that does stand out though is the path will narrow to 2.5m to get around a Pohutukawa tree.

For Seapath the business case doesn’t hide the costs and suggests it’s expected to cost $72.3 million and have a BCR of 1.2. I not sure this means the SkyPath cost is $288m though as it seems like the costings for all NZUP projects have been pumped up a bit.


I’m really looking forward to being able to use both these projects, especially as I work on the Shore and often commute by bike – although it turns out it’s almost exactly the same distance as my current route via Upper Harbour.

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149 comments

  1. Why on earth run the sea path on the inland side of the motorway where there are so many obstructions? If it was on the seaward side of the motorway-as it’s name suggests a lot of the obsticals like the Onewa off ramps could be avoided. & the amenity of being seaside enhanced. At present the motorway is a virtual fence blocking access to this entire seashore. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to regain access again.

    1. A few reasons that I’m aware of
      1. It would make it harder for people to join the path at places like Onewa
      2. Anything that involves reclamation would be difficult to consent.
      3. There are endangered dotteral breeding next to the motorway up around Edmonde. The motorway acts as a kind of barrier for them. There is concern a path on that side would make it pests and domestic animals to prey on them

      1. If they kept it on the sea side, they could use this as an excuse to build the Onewa busway station and integrate a connection to Onewa with a busway overbridge. I reckon that would be cheaper and better than what we are seeing here.

        They wouldnt need reclamation on the sea side, they could just do it on a timber boardwalk quite easily.

    1. Structurally the ‘bridge’ is actually a group of independent steel bridges on top of concrete piers. The original bridge was actually 3 (? someone may correct me) bridges, the clip-ons added another 3 bridges on each side (for a total of 9) and NZTA’s new Skypath design adds another 3 bridges on the Eastern side (bringing the total to 12). The life expectancy concerns were with the clip-ons but a mid-life upgrade program has alleviated these. The new Skypath design is independent of the existing steel bridges so isn’t affected by any lingering concerns about their life expectancy. This is an advantage over the original Skypath design which would have hung from one of the clip-ons.

      1. The original Harbour Bridge is just one bridge, not 3. The clip-ons are an addition bridge, but using the same original piles, on each side of that original. So now there are effectively 3 bridges, all sharing the originalpiles.

    2. A myth promoted to justify building a duplicate motorway crossing. But not true.

      NZTA have stated the bridge will last indefinitely with regular maintenance and management.

        1. I think from memory, when I looked into it, was that at one stage it was thought the life would only be so much but then subsequent and/or more thorough investigations and strengthening, management solutions have meant it’s ok now indefinitely. Hence the idea out there it had limited life.

      1. “A myth promoted to justify building a duplicate motorway crossing. But not true.”
        And what would be the motivation of that?

        “NZTA have stated the bridge will last indefinitely with regular maintenance and management.”
        I thought that the NZTA are (allegedly) the devil incarnate? Got a source for that?

        1. “And what would be the motivation of that?”

          A lot of agencies and private interests WANT a new bridge / car crossing (as a (wider) replacement or even as an addition).

          There’s a LOT of motivation when a) ideology (we want more car lanes!) and b) money (such juicy big projects!) are at play.

        2. But the tunnel would benefit PT the most. 6 lanes leaves ample space beneath the road for double-track of rail (and probably cycle lanes.
          As it would replace the clip-on’s on the AHB: It would merely be two more lanes. As the AHB is to be used more for North Shore traffic, it actually cuts-down lanes for long-distance traffic.

          People don’t want to build something that big and expensive without a good reason. Like most things in this world: There’s no conspiracy.

        3. How many hospitals or houses could we build for the price of this additional crossing? Your arguments are simply not logical or consistent Daniel Eyre.

        4. Because most of NZTA Highway Network see their role as building motorways to fix traffic and boost the economy, and have build careers around it. They’re in the job to build big motorways. Add in the construction companies like Fletchers that exist off big government projects and you have a lot of interests in building a big motorway, whether it’s a good idea or not.

          Daniel, you don’t understand the plans from NZTA for the crossing, your description is wrong.

        5. “Like most things in this world: There’s no conspiracy.”

          You don’t need a conspiracy for powerful interests and capitalism to steer political / funding decisions into a path that is wrong for our climate and our society and our economy. It can (but usually isn’t) even be fully in public, and still lead to crap outcomes.

        6. Erm Grant; what’s not logical here is you asking me out of the blue “many hospitals or houses could we build for the price of this additional crossing”.

          And furthermore: Do you ever ask that of people wanting this light rail to the airport?

        7. @Daniel Eyre
          Sorry had you confused with “Daniel Burgess” (or are you the same person?) and comments further down…was getting a bit late that night…

    3. The original bridge is fine.
      What’s suspect is the “clip-on” extra lanes. It’s inherent and unavoidable and they were never intended to be a long-term solution. They’re the subject of a considerably expensive continual monitoring and maintenance program.

  2. This is great to see. A real asset for our city.

    Does anyone know what the timelines are for the Takanini to Papakura cycleway along SH1 is? I’ve also been told it will run further south.

    As a keen cyclist, it would be magic to cycle across the bridge and all the way down to the Southern edge of Auckland.

    Thank you

    1. Walking and cycling pathway to be completed in early 2020

      Work is continuing on the walking and cycling pathway that will link Papakura to Takanini and communities in between.

      Much of the concrete has been poured for the pathway that connects Papakura to Takanini, but some work remains to link the sections together, link the pathway to the footbridge over the motorway at Pescara Point and complete the rest and recreation spaces along the way.

      Pool-style fencing will be installed between the pathway and the motorway where the path is located on land. Specially-designed balustrading will be installed on the bridge sections of the path that cross the water at Pahurehure Inlet.

      From HERE https://createsend.com/t/t-236D3D6F11DC3DA02540EF23F30FEDED

        1. All of this begs the question, is there any plan for a cycle route continuing south from the central city to join the section that they’re building at Takanini? That seems like the logical next step, once the western and northern routes are done.

        2. Andrew – I would imagine there is plans for that – but very very long term
          The motorway corridor is pretty much maxed out for width along much of the Greenlane / Ellerslie area, so would be interesting to see how it would be squeezed in.

        3. I wonder what the $360m being spent on SkyPath (or whatever i’m meant to call it) could’ve done to link this up to the inner city network?

        4. NZTA has 3m million in the 10 year RLTP to study / design a cycleway along SH1 southwards from Newmarket. The contract fpor that work has gone out to market a few months ago, AFAIK.

  3. It’ll be great when it’s done.

    I’m surprised at the money we’re talking that they weren’t able to take out the hair pin bends.

    The property purchase will have added a bit of cost. I wonder what else NZTA intend to do with that land… I’m sure they’ll have ideas.

    1. I’m sure those property owners (who all will have deep pockets) will fight this all the way, it’s not going to be easy or cheap to acquire those homes.

      1. I doubt they would have announced this design if they didn’t have that sorted or mostly sorted already. Some of the properties on that side are also already NZTA-owned for years now, for example being used for their local bridge maintenance office (but once the houses get bowled, the cost of the land used becomes a “SkyPath” cost).

        1. NZTA own one property. They have not sorted it all out at all. As recently as October they told the owners of the affected properties that there was no scenario under which their properties were going to be affected which was clearly BS.

          My understanding is that the owners affected are over it, have a deep mistrust of NZTA and are waiting to see what offer they will receive. None of them appear happy about it but what options do they have? Sell now or sell later under compulsory purchase?

          I wonder why NZTA has moved away from the solution proposed in October which had the landing area under the bridge?

        2. Mmmmh, maybe because local residents have for many years insisted that the Northcote end access link (if it was provided at all) was to be as minimised as possible, and that the path should direct users away from the bridge area, far far away?

          I do understand some of the concerns of locals about many new people into their area. But I guess short of not doing the path at all, or taking a lane from the top of the bridge (things that would be foolish, respectively apparently impossible in a climate emergency), what else are you going to do? To create a “pass through” solution which limits (but doesn’t prevent) local access here you need to continue the path…

  4. If the Skypath carries as many people as the NW cycleway then I have a cheaper option. Try to identify who the 2000 people who will use it are, and bribe them each $100,000 to not cycle. Total cost would be $200 million giving a saving of $160 million to the tax payer. You’re welcome.

    1. You mean the 5500 users each day… who will be many more than 5500 people.

      I’ve got a better idea. How about we find all the people alive today who were tax payers over the payment period for the original bridge, and who had received whatever tiny savings in tax they made by cutting out the active mode component. Then, on a means-tested basis, divide the cost of the Skypath between them…

      Of course I’m being as facetious as you are, but we could at least stop building any roads without safe cycling and walking.

      1. The people who need to be there are the 1020 people cycling for utility. They will pretty much be the same people every day so we could buy them all a car and fuel for their entire working life- even a big gas guzzler would be cheaper. The recreational cyclists can go for their bike ride anywhere.

        1. “The people who need to be there are the 1020 people cycling for utility”.
          Imagine if Miffy ran the world, what a boring place it would be.

        2. That would be 510 return trips (to close approximation, assuming not a lot of people will swim or take a ferry the other way).

          Sounds like a low estimate.

        3. define ‘utility’
          a journey with a use
          so every journey then?
          yup, but saying ‘utility’ allows us to sound all mathy and ignore everything we don’t like

        4. But Miffy does rule the world – reminds me of Trump with silly but sometimes amusing stories. “We’ll build a wall !!” Or “we’ll buy them all a car !” Or “Mexico will pay for it !”

    2. Can you do the same calculation the other way on motorway edtensions. How much could we save if we bought even half of motorists projected to use that motorway an ebike or $10k electric cargo cycle and built separated cycle lanes everywhere? I imagine we could have good chnage out of the average motorway widening, let alone new motorways.

    3. How about taking a couple of lanes from the actual bridge instead? Wouldn’t even need to bribe anyone. The reduction in traffic capacity would result in a reduction in car trips.

    4. It is really getting to a pretty ridiculous cost for a cycleway now.

      I honestly expect National to get back into government and scrap the project.

  5. So expensive but good to see the planning for connecting to Albany. Pity similar planning isn’t being done for a busway to silverdale.
    I’ll be calling it the northern cycleway.
    4m wide is enough to mark 4 lanes per AUSROADS. e.g. the path by the river through Btisbane.

  6. Quick history question: Why was there no pedestrian path built when the bridge was first opened back in 1959? Or when the clip on lanes were added? Could have been done much cheaper back then

    1. It’s the same reason why they also ineptly made it with too few lanes, which necessitated spending far more money to attach the “clip-on’s: The National party was in power.

      1. In hindsight, which is of course golden, I don’t think it was more lanes they needed, but rail and active modes only. And some decent intensification of the isthmus rather than north shore development.

        1. I think that even if they’d left a corridor for PT: The original bridge would’ve still congested about as quickly and they would’ve needed at least two more lanes (one on each side).
          Because it is the only place to cross the harbour for a long distance.

    2. Nicholas, you can look at Papers Past and various websites for a lot of the reporting of the day.

      The basic reason is that the bridge was horrifically expensive in the early 1950s, when Auckland was a small city with a small economy. Less than a sixth of what it is today. More to the point the North Shore was nothing, about 30k people, most of whom lived in Devonport. the rest was a few weatherboard houses clustered around Northcote Point and Birkenhead wharf, and a string of baches up the east coast bays. The city simply couldn’t afford to pay for a bigger bridge.

      A suspension bridge with a tram crossing had been proposed earlier between Judges Bay and Devonport, but got nowhere. Later some concepts included a mainline rail via Northcote point, but the grade and approaches were very difficult.

      The first serious plans for the AHB had six 12 foot traffic lanes and a pair of 6 foot footpaths either side, and a taller central arch with a suspended deck.

      However the cost was almost double the budget, so the footpaths were dropped and it was trimmed back to five lanes, the middle one being tidal, to save width. The arch was lowered.

      However even that was still way over budget so they spent a while debating what else to cut. For a while they were going to skip the overbridge to Shelly Beach Road and have a simple T intersection at the city side. However in the end the decided reducing to four lanes but avoiding the intersection at Shelly Beach was the better way to spend the money. Even then it took a special bonus contribution from parliament to get it over the line.

      It’s easy to look back and say why didn’t they just spend a bit extra… but we are talking about a massive share of the GDP of the day. The fact they trimmed the bill down to half the original cost is the only thing that got it built.

      If only they’d done the same with some of the railway plans from the same time, those might have got built also.

      1. “The city simply couldn’t afford to pay for a bigger bridge.”

        I obviously didn’t do the cost calculations for it, but I’d doubt that the addition of bikeways / walkways (at least on one side) would have cost more than 2-3% of the total bridge cost. They managed to afford the other 97%, and then managed to pay for the clip-ons, but we are still paying for that 3% saving over 50 years later.

  7. How does Seapath connect to Takapuna beach/township? It’s been a while since I’ve been up there….And surely if they’re spending a fortune on this path they can spend a little more to avoid the 2.5m choke point around the pohutukawa tree??

    1. I read it as a localized 2.5 path for the Pohutakawa tree, additional to the main path? I don’t see any reason why they would narrow the main path, surely space isn’t that big of an issue along there.

      1. If it’s the place I’m thinking, it’s a mature Pohutukawa tree between the cliff face and the motorway. At this point there is no extra shoulder space already, just a narrow bus shoulder lane.

        So the options would be:
        a) Cut down the tree
        b) move the motorway
        c) remove the bus lane or take out a traffic lane
        d) excavate the cliff behind the tree to run around it

        big consent/cost issues with any of them.

        1. I’m impressed they managed to squeeze out 2.5m in that location, the trunk is basically rubbing up against the motorway as it is.

        2. I guess can be upgraded later if (active mode) traffic is too much though it. It’s further on a bit from the bridge so perhaps won’t be too busy??

        3. Grant, where could they possibly find more space and reduce our climate emissions at the same time? Staring them in the face.

  8. Great to see- I hope NZTA and AT also consider making streets around the area safe for those who wish to walk or ride. I know plenty of people who would love to ride on the NW but feel it is too dangerous to reach and they live within a few 100metres of it.

    1. One day it’ll be clear that requiring people to risk their lives to get to use the infrastructure was irresponsible.

      The new Stockholm Declaration means we should be seeing 30 km/hr urban streets and enforcement to match, so we’ll be a lot closer to the safe connections we need.

  9. The question is if AT manages to actually connect the city-side end to something useful or will the people be expected to cycle on the road through Wynyard quarters and Viaduct?

    1. Yes this is the BIG missing link, I guess it’s AT’s turf: Fanshawe St, gonna need proper decent width separated cycleway(s) to connect Bridge to City.
      Will have to work round bus stations, or maybe they should be centre running?

      1. …and further, we know from slowly making the NW cycleway more functional, with this, the Eastern GI-Tāmaki, and now a Southern one too, all city streets are going to have to be made ridable, cos most aren’t now… proper all modes job in City Centre now required.

  10. It’s really interesting that when there’s a requirement for a complex engineering solution to a transport problem NZTA get excited and deliver; eg Pink Path, Kaikoura coastline and this solution. So maybe the way to get NZTA excited about delivering alternatives to roads for cars is to talk up the challenge. Don’t describe a cyclepath as a mere/simple/easy to do four metre strip of concrete alongside a motorway which provides no jollies for someone who is heavily vested in a career of delivering complex engineering solutions – talk up the challenge. More bridges, tunnels, bypasses round pohutukawas etc etc. After a while, mile wide strips of asphalt for cars will become the boring things they don’t want to do and that they drag their feet on.

    1. There’s some truth in that — I’ve found NZTA to have some excellent engineering and project management expertise re delivery.

      I think what’s needed is to widen our definition of strategic transport infrastructure beyond stage highways to include rail and arguably this kind of trunk we walking / cycling facility.

    2. Yeah. Just need to make sure these engineers aren’t holding the purse strings or making decisions, but are simply employed to find the engineering solutions once others have identified them.

      1. What else influences you, Luke? We have some pretty good urbanist vibe going on in Auckland… sure Welly couldn’t match it if they tried.

        1. Im obsessed with bikes, Its how I want and choose to get around so as long as I can do my current role (which I can in both cities) there isnt really many other factors!

        2. On urbanism and things that impact cycling:

          Auckland is controlled by a cowboy.
          Wellington is controlled by a hobbit.

          Take your pick.

  11. They absolutely need to segregate cyclists from pedestrians. If they don’t it will be a big accident just waiting to happen! It will also make the experience terrible for cyclists and not ideal for pedestrians either. A bit of paint down the middle won’t cut it either.
    The cycle lanes should be closest inboard for maximum protection and to avoid pedestrians cutting across their path to the viewing areas.

    1. That’s not AUSROADS standard, which would put the cycle lanes in the middle. 4m isn’t wide enough for walking lanes all on view side.

  12. As appealing as this sounds (particularly to cyclists), it’s a lot of tax payer cash which could go towards other PT solutions such as bus lanes out West or even towards an investment in congestion charging technology. i.e. at the cost, surely we could do much better?

    1. Agreed. On the one hand I love it but you have to think how much more bang for buck would you get spending this sort of dough on cycling infrastructure on more deprived areas such as down south and out west. Guess a business case wouldnt stack up though if its serving those paying disproportionate amounts of fuel tax already and with higher transport costs both in real terms and certainly relative terms. At least the 1%ers will be able to bomb across the bridge on their new ebikes to go hang out with their mates in the viaduct.

      1. I think it will be an attraction all by itself for families for a weekend ride across the bridge, just for the views alone. I think it’ll attract a lot of day-trippers and tourists.

  13. The original design had it covered, but the new design appears to be out in the open. I would think crossing the bridge on a cold windy day in winter will not be a nice experience. 60kph+ winds are common up there. Hopefully at a minimum it has a tall side barrier that deflects the wind over head height.

    1. Doubt the artist impressions at this stage show the actual detail yet… it will definitely have suicide screens/throw screens of some form (think Grafton Bridge or similar).

  14. Straw poll:

    Would love to know how often the contributors on here venture out to places like Otara, Papakura, Henderson and Manurewa to see what’s going on with respect to transport inequity and resultant inequality?

    Would be awesome to see some more thought given to Social Return on Investment metrics on here. I perceive a very engineer heavy tone. Transport access and equity needs urgent attention.

    If a full SROI assesment was the basis for analysis then sky paths linking decile 10 suburbs to the cbd already served by a 20 min bus and suggesting tourists and private school kids getting dropped back to Mum in the centre of the city at a beautiful new bus terminal being a priority…wouldn’t even get a look in.

    So much more bang for buck to be had ielsewhere. Lets make it easier for deprived kids who just want to get to school. Little Timmy and Annie being able to cycle over to Taka Beach from St Mary Bay for the day is just so much further down the list of my priorities in my opinion.

    Haven’t been on here long but seems like a lot of Chardonnay Socialists luxuriating about how woke they are and focusing on the CBD and vanity projects like paths in the sky as they quaff down the chardy and intermittent bubbly water.

    Kind of makes me feel a bit sick! But i keep reading as there are some very insightful and analytically technical people on here. But…

    We need more emphasis on Greater Auckland and all Aucklanders not just those who have the luxury of engaging in the discourse. Humans are selfish as hell and it’s natural to care more about your suburb and relate more to others that have people that look and act like you do. I’d like you all to think about challenging yourselves to recognise that bias and think about all. A great place to start is empathising and trying to understand struggles elsewhere in the city.

    1. Well, I’m no longer a GA contributor, although I spent most of the first 20-years of my life living in Waiuku (Glenbrook, to be precise), so have some personal experience of transport accessibility issues, shall we say. Unless, that is, you consider the Glenbrook Vintage Railway as public transport.

      In my first two years studying at UoA, I would drive to Papakura and use the park-and-ride to access the train to the city, where I’d walk up from the Strand. All-up I would spend three-hours travelling each day.

      I well remember the cold, smelly, damp old trains. One day someone at Takanini threw a rock at the train as it went past. Shards of glass from the broken window went into a passenger’s eye. Another day, the train caught fire and we all had to jump off at Greenlane. The burning train blocked the tracks, preventing other trains from approaching. Another day I fell asleep and woke up just before Papakura. The lack of lighting at the station meant I couldn’t see the sign and, before I realised, the doors closed and we were off to Pukekohe, where–due to the absence of evening bus / train services–I was stranded until my Dad was able to pick me up. Fun times.

      My Dad, for his part, was in his thirties when he was critically and permanently injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver coming around a corner on the wrong side of the road. He had to be helicoptered from Awhitu to Middlemore Hospital, where he somehow managed to survive a raft of injuries, including a punctured aorta and a collapsed lung. Ironically, his heart and lung fully healed whereas his leg (which was broken in three places) became the main long-run health problem. From that time onwards my Dad was never able to work full-time again. And as a young man who had just started his own electrical business, his previous year’s income was extremely low, which in turn meant he received a relatively low ACC payment. Unsurprisingly, New Zealand’s poor road safety record is something that causes me grief to this day.

      My grandmother, Violet, never learned to drive a car and–once she boldly divorced my alcoholic grandfather–relied on public transport for her entire life from the woke inner-city enclave of Glen Eden. Cuts to bus services in the 1990s meant Violet lost the bus stop outside her house, which she’d specifically purchased with her meagre saving due to its proximity to public transport. In her mid-60s, Violet decided to get out her roller skates (she loved skating) to get to the next closest bus stop. I write about her experience in this blog post:
      https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2013/04/23/movement-and-place-taking-a-historical-perspective/

      Main message? I’d encourage you to keep reading. In my opinion, GA often emphasises transport equity issues, as I did in this guest post on the accessibility effects of the CRL.
      https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2019/01/30/right-to-the-city-who-benefits-from-the-crl/

      That post summarises the results of some research that we published in this journal article: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0967070X17306996

      Apologies for not stumping up the $300 to ensure the article was open access. That’s a mistake I will not repeat …

      One final thing comment: GA is run by volunteers. Bloggers, like Matt and Heidi, spend their own time generating content for our benefit. In doing so, they will often write from their own perspective *because it’s efficient*. That said, GA welcomes–nay, explicitly invites–guest posts:
      https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/about-greater-auckland/

      Rather than exhorting others to spend their precious time, why not assume responsibility for filling the gap yourself? I’d really encourage you to write and submit a guest post on transport equity issues, or SROI, or whatever it is that gets your blood boiling and neurons firing. Take us with you. And, in the meantime, I’d suggest not presuming too much about the “… people on here”. You might be pleasantly surprised by the depth and variety of personal experiences that exists in GA bloggers and readers.

      1. You might feel that Greater Auckland ignores Otara Papatoe and Mangere but Auckland Transport doesn’t with public transport being actually quite good. Even cycling gets a look in with street cycling lanes even though a lot of cyclists use the footpaths because concrete is easier to cycle on than tarmac chip. Off peak buses are well used and numbers are increasing most workers in industrial areas like Wuri drive however this can be witnessed by the on and off street parking in these areas.

      2. Thanks Stu for writing about both your own experiences and those of your loved ones. I will make sure to read the articles linked as well.

        As I said i’m very grateful to read this site. It’s become something of an obsession over the last couple of months and I’m very grateful to read the content that is painstakingly put together by the writers.

        My key board warrior comments and broad brush stroke appraisal of everyone living within cycling distance of the Sky Path as being 1%ers is of course prima facie a very ignorant comment.
        In the same way that everyone who lives south of Onehunga, Ellerslie is poor and unable to manage their lives/interact successfully with PT and is in need of help.

        However I still think my comments have a place. It was an attack on everyone and no one. I was wanting to fire some neurons, so people can at least check their bias. To at least have a think about whether they truly think wider than their own sand pit and visible world. All I was trying to do was illustrate that it is hard to do.

        My attack on the Chardy Socialist is really valid in today’s ‘woke – please follow me on Insta’ world. People live in bubbles. We’ve never been more connected and disconnected at the same time. ‘Liking’ an article about a kid who had to walk 5km to school in the pouring rain with no shoes who couldn’t afford a train, who had a go fund me page setup to buy him shoes and a Hop Card; helps the kid but doesn’t really help the wider issues; as liking it obviates almost everyone from further action. It makes good people feel slightly better about themselves but does nothing to help the other kids or potentially ‘the kid ‘in the long term

        I still think my straw poll has merit regarding where people who actively contribute on here actually go within the Greater Auckland region.

        You get so much more of an insight going and standing in the middle of Otara Town Center and talking to the community rather than just reading about related statistics and viewing it on a map. I’m not saying that’s what the writer’s on here do. I’m just saying it is worth considering whether it is done enough.

        Thanks for the suggestion that I write something on here. I may look to do so at some point.

        Anywho, enough ranting. You’re nice, we are nice, everyone is nice. Let’s all get on and help each other out. Including those that don’t contribute to the discourse.

        * Tongue and cheek alert*

        P.S – If you head out to Otara you may need to pack a Quinoa Salad and Kale smoothie. Unless of course you like deep fried food. It is a nutritional desert out there

        1. From my perspective, your comments–especially your reflections on the importance of transport equity issues–are noted and appreciated. I concur.

          I’d suggest “a few months” is not a long time in the transport news cycle. Projects take a long time, decades even, to get from planning to implementation. For this reason, I’d encourage you to dig into the GA archives to gain a longer historical perspective on the issues and ideas canvased on the blog. I think you’ll find a strong emphasis on transport equity issues in the posts on Airport light rail, for example, where GA advocated strongly for a service that met the needs of local residents more so than airport travellers.

          While GA’s emphasis on transport equity waxes and wanes along with the projects and issues of the day, it has been a recurring theme. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

      1. No idea whether it counts or not. It’s not really my point.

        I grew up in a poor area. Now im pretty comfortable. It’s amazing how quickly i’ve forgotten about the struggles in my past. It’s healthy to challenge yourself to keep thinking about others’ circumstances.

        Please dont take my comments as a personal attack. You do an amazing job on here and should be applauded for it!

    2. It would help tremendously to get those kind of PT/cycling projects done in those kinds of areas if all the residents didn’t submit against them. Or at least submitted in support.

      Unfortunately it seems that 60 years of auto dependence has led to the absurd situation where travelling by car is seen as working class while using PT and cycling is seen as only for the wealthy. Insane ideas when seen through the lens of Asia or Europe.

      The auto and oil industries have done a great job of continuing and growing that idea.

      Bike Auckland has been looking for people for years to spearhead local bike burbs with limited (but not zero) success. There has to be some drive from those areas as well. If it isn’t there, then AT will do nothing.

      1. You can actually check this in the census data and the deprivation index. And it confirms that poor areas are mostly car dependent. The areas with more alternative transportation are mostly above the 30% percentile.

        1. OK. But that is not at all surprising. The question is why?

          Because people in those areas have no interest in PT or cycling? People in those areas don’t have groups advocating for change? Officials assume those areas wont want the better amenities and prefer driving?

        2. I don’t know why this is, or how to solve it. Part of it I guess is the better leverage rich people have to get the council to improve things in their neighbourhoods. (an example pointed out is that they tend to have time to organise advocating groups)

          I was actually trying to figure out if cycling is an upper middle class thing. Because that platitude is thrown around so often. Of course you cannot really figure this out because the vast majority of area units is barely over 0% on area unit level, and 0 to within measurement precision on meshblock level. The few areas with a few percent cycling are indeed in the middle and the rich quantiles.

        3. Cheapest to buy = Bike
          Cheapest to maintain = Bike
          Cheapest to run = Bike

          This is a Western World problem where we have pigeon holed cycling as a middle class, inner city thing.

    3. Lydicrous, I’m sure you would find that 90-95% of people who write, read and comment on here are probably white & probably middle class or above. People who can afford not to live in those poorer areas and don’t have to work 3 part-time minimum wage shift jobs to survive.

      This blog is very biased towards the lives of comfortable white people. Nothing wrong with that of course, but there are many other viewpoints missing. The poor brown folk don’t have time/energy to contribute to these discussions. So you end up with people who don’t even believe that gangs of motorcyclists roving the streets/parks of South Auckland exist. They are happy to stay in their bubble.

      You just need to look at the ridiculous Future Streets project in Mangere to see the problem. Rich, white, researchers with no clue about the lives of people who live there. Then they come up with ideas on how to save the poor brown folk from the social costs of crashes and go get the also comfortable (and probably white) engineers to come draw up some plans and spend $10m to remove all the parking and put in fully protected cycleways. Those cycleways are now full of parked cars and no kids using bikes. Every house has like 10 people living in it with a few cars each which is the only way to get to their shift work at weird times. So Auckland Transport takes away all their parking and hands out fines they can’t afford because they are parked in cycleways no one uses.

      Kids in South Auckland can’t afford to buy a bike let alone keep one. They can’t ride them to school because they can’t afford locks and the bike gets stolen. They can’t afford a puncture repair kit, or a helmet or a bike pump.

      But don’t worry, the white man will save them with the protected cycleways! And the researcher got another feather in their cap too, so it’s great all round!

      I totally support safety projects and cycleway investment. But the money would have been better spent putting in a bunch of speed bumps or extending existing cycleways in wealthier areas of Auckland. At least they would be used.

      1. Your comment about most households having a few cars is miles off, more than 10% of households in Magere-Otahuhu have no access to a motor vehicle and fewer than 20% have three or more (let alone ‘a few’).
        http://archive.stats.govt.nz/Census/2013-census/profile-and-summary-reports/quickstats-transport-comms/number-motor-vehicles.aspx

        We definitely need to do a better job of engaging with less affluent and non-white people. But the opinion of someone who lives in non-affluent, largely non-white area doesn’t cancel out the objective reality that driving is really expensive and autodependence is worse for you the less affluent you are.

        1. absolutely which is why providing good cycling infrastructure would have so much more impact for these folk.

        2. SB, I wouldn’t trust the census results.
          Mangere only had a 69% response rate.
          A bit hard to do an online survey if you can’t afford a computer or the internet.

          What would the average person class as a household? Just your immediate family? or the other family you are sharing the house with? Do you also include the 3rd family living in the garage too? And what about the 4th family in the caravan out back? Is that 1 household or 4 households living on the same property? How many cars does the household have? 1 car per family or 4 cars per household?

          Ultimately it doesn’t matter, you still end up with too many cars on the property that don’t fit and end up parked on the street. We aren’t even talking about all the state houses that don’t even have a place to put a car.

          Sure, auto-dependency is terrible, but it is hardly better spending limited money on worthless projects that don’t help locals in any measurable way. Even just giving out 5,000 annual bus passes to locals would have had a better direct impact on the lives of locals than those cycle lanes.

        3. Hm someone did a map of kids cycling to school, and there didn’t appear to be any in Mangere.

          And a low response rate is one thing but would that skew car ownership statistics down? It is not obvious why people without internet would have more cars than average.

      2. Thanks Ari, Agree with everything you have said.
        To reiterate.. the big glaring thing for me an what p1ssed me off so much about the concept of SkyPath and everyone getting in a lather about it is the fact that people in the tougher and more distant neighbourhoods pay more in fuel tax and PT costs. Not proportionally more. Just more full stop.

        To then go and spend $360m on a project that provides infrastructure supporting the lowest barrier to participation transport modes (walking and cycling) to an area that is in general wealthy and already reasonably well served (NEX) beggars belief.

        Package it up however you want… It is a vanity project that would fall over in a light breeze if it was fairly considered based on equity.

        Where is good SROI analysis and evidence based decision making?

        I hope you’re reading this Adrienne Young – Cooper. AT needs to start measuring SROI not just network efficiency.

        1. Perhaps it’s just because more people will use a cycleway to access the city centre as opposed to an area where It’s miles out & people just park in the newly provided cycleway. Yes I saw this in Mangere an and was disappointed. People park on cycleways and paths and grass verges all over Auckland, but to actually jam their cars in a protected cycleway for parking is another step up in giving the finger.

        2. @grant – we have issues with people parking on cycle lanes in all parts of the city, especially where they are essentially just paint on the ground. Need to be careful that you dont assume all Mangerians are pulling the finger at cycleways.

      3. So what should be done for less well off areas?

        Just keep widening the roads? Making it even harder for people to get around without a car? And more children dying from trying to cross big wide roads.

        Sounds like amn veer decreasing circle. Easy to criticize, what about some alternative solutions?

  15. Out of curiousity I calculated the cost with interest at 3% and writing off the principal over 25 years and divided by number of trips using the 2046 figure. If I did it right it is over $10 per trip. Seems a lot of money spent if the figures are right. An alternative way of spending that money could involve giving me an electric bike – I’d love to have one but can’t afford it on my super.
    But if it takes 6,000 cars off the bridge every day it may be a reasonable investment. Of course in 2046 they will still be pondering a new bridge or tunnel with or without rail and judging by past attempts to estimate population growth we will have doubled the population of North Shore. Also many predictions that personal cars will be obsolete by 2030 – so we could end up with SkyPath being used for heritage cars and the eight lanes being changed so two are dedicated to delivery vehicles and the other six are for bikes and pedestrians.

    1. Bob – Even if it doesn’t take 6000 cars off the bridge, it gives some an option of not taking the car, or not taking the bus, or taking the ferry, or not staying at home.
      Either way it is providing a missing link of walking and cycling infrastructure which has and still is only passable if you are in a vehicle.

    2. It won’t take any cars off the bridge because of induced demand. But it will put a hell of a lot of cyclists and pedestrians on the bridge and increase the number of people who cross it every day.

  16. I can only imagine how the tax payers in Bluff are overjoyed at the Government spending 360 million dollars on a cycle path in Auckland.
    I am not doubting the benefits of being able to walk/cycle over the harbor, but THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY MILLION DOLLARS? In a country where there are homeless and our healthcare system needs funding?
    This sounds like madness to me.

    1. The $5.3 m road boondoggle must really push your buttons then.

      At least this overpriced project will encourage cycling and walking, not driving.

    2. Yes perhaps you think the money would be better spent propping up the Aluminium smelter that provides a few subsidised jobs while creating toxic waste that they allow to be dumped in Southland rural communities. If the only choice is a bridge cycleway or more toxic waste for Southland then even I will support a cycleway over the bridge.

    3. Wait until you find out how much they are proposing to spend on roads that will only clog the city up more and increase emissions. I can only assume you are also outraged at that?

    4. You are all deliberately missing the point. There is genuine outrage that the Government is not addressing funding shortages in housing and health care and yet they are going to spend 360M on a cycle path.
      It is not just the people in Bluff that will be outraged, people all across NZ should be questioning the benefit of a cycle path over the bridge vs the cost of building a hospital or 600 ‘affordable’ homes.
      I think Skypath was going to cost 30M, why did we not just build that instead of the Northern Pathway?

      1. Ever heard of the health benefits of walking cycling etc instead of sitting in a car & driving to McD’s drive thru?Spread that over thousands of users over many years and count the health benefits. Prevention better than cure for starters. Also don’t forget mental health benefits. The usage will easily be double what the business case has used, compare other cycleways built all over NZ. Soon Auckland will have a number of currently disconnected bits of cycleway all joined together. This alone will see an increase in people taking up cycling.

        1. This will see an increase in people riding e-bikes. Trying to argue that this is a health benefit is a joke.
          Are you seriously trying to say a cycle path has more health benefit than a hospital?
          I am all for cycle paths. They do take cars off the road and this creates a number of benefits to society. However 360 million dollars on a cycle path in Auckland is not a good way for NZ tax payers money to be spent when we do have an underfunded health care system and a housing crisis.
          If the Northern Pathway is going to take as many cars off the bridge that we hope, then they should dedicate one of the lanes to cycling/walking. Further substantial savings can be made by using existing quiet roads and paths for the seapath route.

        2. Even e-bikes are healthier, still more active etc.

          “Are you seriously trying to say a cycle path has more health benefit than a hospital?”

          Yes I am. It’s not going to show up as an immediate benefit or even be measured, but I bet it is long term.

          “… then they should dedicate one of the lanes to cycling/walking. ”
          Yes they could and should, but that realistically is not going to happen anytime soon.

        3. “This will see an increase in people riding e-bikes. Trying to argue that this is a health benefit is a joke.”

          I’m afraid you’ll have to back that up, Daniel. Evidence, please.

        4. Daniel, check this article in response to your first line.

          https://www.bicycling.com/training/a23610389/how-e-bikes-affect-fitness/

          – Getting an e-bike can dramatically increase how often you ride, according to a recent survey of nearly 1,800 e-bike owners in North America. Before owning an e-bike, 55 percent of the respondents said they rode daily or weekly. After getting an e-bike, that number soared to 91 percent riding daily or weekly. More striking, 94 percent of non-cyclists rode daily or weekly after getting an e-bike—nearly every single one of them!

          RELATED STORY
          Bike Commuter Backpacks
          12 Cool Commuter Bags for Carrying All You Need
          For many e-bike owners, their e-bike doesn’t replace their traditional bike; it replaces their car. That same e-bike survey found that owners replaced 46 percent of their car commutes and 30 percent of their driving errands with e-bike rides. All you need is a great commuter bag to carry your stuff, and you’re set. Nobody’s fitness is devalued by that

          E-bike riding delivers health benefits.
          If you’re straight off the couch, the health gains of e-biking are significant. In one study, when Colorado University researchers gave otherwise inactive people e-bikes and told them to to ride a minimum of 40 minutes a day, three days a week, the volunteers willingly rode beyond the minimum, boosted their fitness, improved their blood sugar levels, and trimmed some fat in just one month.

        5. Daniel, we could just spend $0 on the status quo which is not to undo the mistake made 1959 to cut spending to include a pedestrian/cycling walkway across the bridge. We could continue to ensure that to cross the harbour it can only be done in a private car, bus or ferry. We can ignore the potential thousands of additional customers opting for a more active mode of transport that additionally helps free up the roads and seats on the crowded buses.
          Or we can spend $360m (the cost of around 1km of the East-West link) on building not only Skypath, but also SeaPath and connections from around the North Shore to get to these.

      2. You are deliberately missing the point. There is genuine outrage that the Government is not addressing climate change, and is funding BAU high carbon-emitting road projects.

  17. Looking forward to using ARC (short for ARCHWAY, short for Auckland Regional Connector Hub Way, other suggestions?) despite an ambitious timetable – setting aside design issues, the southern landing may uphold a transferred resource consent, but the northern proposals will not. So, NZTA plan to fast track NOR / resource consent process direct to the Environment Court.

    Apart from cost there is one standout issue with the bridge section – the lack of a pedestrian/cycle barrier. But Seapath would be a mistake and lost opportunity. The Seapath business case is a terrible use of public money where there are better options to leverage existing inland infrastructure close to homes, schools, businesses, onward travel with greater growth potential and which, with AT construction of two Northcote bridges, end up at stage 2 of the Northern Pathway anyway.

    As for perpetuating the myth and spectre of the Skypath name whose business case is so at odds with the NZTA case, it’s time to move on, as all participating agencies are doing. Bevan Woodward can be thanked and acknowledged for championing the cause and forcing authorities to wake up but not for his refusal to change and adapt which led to the downfall of the terminally flawed Skypath PPP concept.

    http://www.ahbp.have-your-say.org.nz/

  18. The usage numbers seem very low. The new pedestrian bridge in Palmerston North is getting about 700 cyclists and 700 pedestrians on weekdays, overall about three times what was expected. Hard to believe that Auckland would only get 4500 a day. The 6km shared path to Linton is also very popular, perhaps more for recreation than for commuting, and yes there is a problem with separation between users, especially between dogs and cyclists.

    1. The transport industry has a long record of underestimating cycle and PT user numbers and overestimating vehicle numbers on road projects. And because no one (except GA) ever goes back and looks at that metric, everyone just assumes they were right.

    2. They are always too conservative. I expect the Skypath to ‘fail’ from over-subscription. I’m pretty sure there are hundreds of north shore MAMIL’s just chomping at the bit to ride into work. The narrow path will be clogged with hundreds of pedestrians and runners and cyclists and scooterists trying to navigate all the twists and turns. It will be a blood bath.

      The only way to avoid this is for Auckland Transport to avoid building any decent connection from the bridge into the city to dissuade the MAMIL hordes from commuting. I think AT are definitely up to that task. 😀

    3. As far as pedal powered cycling goes, I’m not sure the numbers are low and in the long-term they may be overstated.

      They’ve done a comparison to the cycling traffic for the Tamaki Drive causeway, I think because it is a similar length and distance from the city. Their projection for the Skypath is over twice that for Tamaki Drive, because it has a higher catchment population. But I can’t see anything saying how they would adjust for the fact that the long slope on the bridge ride would make it tougher.

      I don’t know how slow buses are over the Harbour Bridge, but there might be more people swapping to bikes to get a faster commute than there would be for Tamaki Drive. But you would think a higher proportion of those people would be inclined to go for e-bikes. And any impact on demand like that might get reversed once the additional harbour crossing was put in.

      Another concern is that they seem to be assuming that all the cycling (not on e-bikes) would be additional exercise. Whereas you might expect that for many people, if they weren’t riding to work, they might otherwise be going down to the gym or for an evening ride somewhere else. Similarly, the bridge pathway might only provide an alternative route for many people who would go for a walk anyway. So I wonder if the expected health impacts are being over-stated.

  19. “The narrow path will be clogged with hundreds of pedestrians and runners and cyclists and scooterists trying to navigate all the twists and turns. It will be a blood bath.”

    Uhmmm, you mean worse than the roads we already have, where thousands of people are killed every decade by… whoops, not bikes or scooters?

    Calm down. Yeah, problems of success are typical growing pains. They will happen like clockwork, and we’ll learn from it. A bit too late, but heck, we have 50 years of screw-ups to overcome, so we will be doing so more will getting better.

  20. Would anyone know who to contact for introducing composite(FRP) decks for the upgrades?

    I believe my company can introduce cheaper and better alternative materials building the extension. Anyone interested, please google “FRP DeltaDeck”.

    Not sure if its appropriate to leave such a comment here, but I thought it is for everyone’s good to save tax payers’ money.

  21. The NZTA youtube promo is very deceptive – hopefully not deliberately but I wouldn’t be too sure. The size of a person compared to the width of existing road lanes is way out of whack, giving the impression that there is far more space on the path than there will be according to indicated dimensions. I’m a fan of the thing, but I question why this is portrayed like this. Honest error or fraud on the taxpayer?

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