How is it June already?? Here’s our roundup for the week that was… and it’s a bumper edition, in honour of the long weekend. (Happy birthday, Your Majesty!)

Liberate the Lane: managing traffic – and expectations

Last Sunday’s Liberate the Lane rally (and subsequent bridge ride) attracted heaps of attention, which was precisely the point. As Chloe Swarbrick writes: “The point is to occupy space and time. The point is to make a point. It’s a spotlight firmly on the issue, and accountability for decision-makers neglecting their responsibility.”

Protests by their very nature are meant to be performative – and the response from Waka Kotahi was too.

Having known for months that this event was going to happen, they had traffic control at the ready. Lane closures on the northbound clip-on were announced in advance by Auckland Transport. This all meant that, on the day, most of the crowd understood what they were doing as an officially sanctioned crossing. (See Councillor Pippa Coom’s description of that moment here).

Listed amongst all the other traffic closures of last weekend: the northbound clip-on (although there seems to have been some confusion about the timing)

And yet, Waka Kotahi chose to leave the bridge in its standard configuration instead of switching to 3+3, meaning northbound traffic went down to two lanes. This may have been due to a difficulty with the lane-switching machine, but couldn’t have been better planned to maximise disruption and generate headlines about “traffic chaos”.

In practice, traffic seemed to slow down briefly as drivers noticed what was happening: northbound traffic slowed on the uphill and flowed down onto the Shore, and the opposite was true southbound.

This suggests a decent chunk of any congestion was not capacity-related, but due to rubbernecking from people seeing something they were just not used to seeing – which wouldn’t be an issue if people walking and biking across the bridge were an everyday feature.

The disruption also needs to be put into perspective. Take a look at Waka Kotahi’s Auckland/ Northland twitter feed which shows  multiple events every day that generate disruption on the motorway network. For example, the morning following the event a truck crashed into the barrier through St Mary’s Bay blocking traffic.

And later that same day, a lane was suddenly closed for emergency road works. But no outraged headlines, of course. This is just traffic, as usual.

It’s numbingly repetitive. By contrast, the tweet about Sunday’s event is one of their most widely shared updates of recent times, in no small part because of the fantastic photo.

So what’s next? Waka Kotahi says it’s looking into things: “We’re listening, and we’ve been listening for a long time.” It has been a long time. As Bike AKL’s Duncan Laidlaw points out, “People have been waiting for decades – it’s now 12 years on from the first protest asking for a cycle lane.”

It’s also striking that Waka Kotahi say “health and safety” is their number one priority in this case. Meanwhile, in plenty of other projects all over the country, advocates still have to fight at every turn to include even basic safety features. And in this case – making space for active travel – if Waka Kotahi takes care of the safety, the health will look after itself.

As Councillor Chris Darby told RNZ: “There’s always barriers. If you turn away at the first barrier that faces you when you’re confronting the issues of transport in Auckland, you’ll never get anything done.” Sunday’s ride pushed aside several perception barriers: for example, it turns out the bridge gradient is easy enough for a child to ride over it. Now, make it safe.

You can sign the petition for a summertime trial of a lane over the bridge here.

Ordinary everyday outrage

A once-in-a-decade, traffic-managed, and fully pre-announced event that lasted less than an hour resulted in a few predictable headlines about inconvenience to the public.

It’s harder to find any outrage at all about the daily damage of people parking on footpaths, in cycle lanes or in our public spaces, breaking the rules on a regular basis by speeding, running red lights and all sorts of other activities?

Roll up, roll up, get your free parking on Constitution Hill in the heart of the city! (Why yes, that is the High Court in the background.) Photo: supplied by a reader.

Queens Birthday Rail Shutdown

Another long weekend, another shutdown of the rail network for upgrades and repairs. Buses will replace trains Saturday through to Monday. (Click to embiggen the pic below).

Downtown Buses

On Wednesday, following questions about the lack of seating at the recently reopened Lower Albert St Bus Interchange, Auckland Transport tweeted this.

Later in the day, AT clarified the situation.

It’s good some seats are going in – but it’s incredible that they’ll just be temporary ones because AT doesn’t have enough funding for what was originally proposed. Lower Albert St is the busiest bus facility in the country, including the busiest bus route, the NX1!

Contrast this outcome with projects like Matakana Link Road, where somehow Auckland Transport found a way to make it four lanes wide instead of two as was originally planned and budgeted for. Maybe they could look down the back of the same couch for some change to make public transport easier and more welcoming? It’ll help meet those pesky climate targets…

Update: on Thursday afternoon, AT advised seats were going in. (Perhaps just the one seat, but gotta start somewhere…)

Building Consents

Building consent data for April was released this week and it’s another huge result with over 1,600 consents issued. That’s the fifth highest month on record and impressively seven of the top twelve months have been within the last year with another four of them in the five spots on the ranking.

Once again townhouses continue to be the most popular while single houses made up just over a third of consents. The results for April mean that on a 12-month rolling basis we’ve hit over 18,000 consents for the first time and 44% of these are townhouses, 36% single houses, 17% apartments and 3% retirement village units.

And here it is stacked. The question is like the opposite of limbo, how high can it go?

CRL Intersection Switch

Later this month, Wellesley St West will reopen to motorised traffic, while the Victoria and Albert intersection will close for a couple of years. (Both intersections remain open for business and active travel, although you might have to walk your bike.)

Speaking of the CRL: boring has now begun – and you can track the progress of the tunnel boring machine here, with some cool visualisations. Named in honour of Dame Whina Cooper, the machine is currently 19m along its underground journey.

Images: DigCRL website

AT School Projects

Good to see Auckland Transport cracking on with lowering driving speeds around schools to the internationally acknowledged maximum safe speed of 30kmh. They’re starting with four primary schools: Grey Lynn Primary, Glenfield Primary, Birkdale Primary and Summerland Primary, so one central, two on the Shore, and one out West. Nothing in South Auckland this round, but the announcement says:

Longer-term, and if successful, setting safe and survivable speed limits under the Safe School Speeds programme will be introduced to other schools across Auckland.

Two questions: how long is this “longer term” – how many Quality Life Years of our children will it take to get around to making all of their school zones safe? And, what exactly does “If successful” mean in this context – how does AT plan to measure this?

Who are cycleways for again?

A refreshingly clear photo story from Christchurch-based blog, Talking Transport. A reminder of what’s important, and essential reading for everyone who’s had a go on every social media channel this week.

A mum (with baby on board her bike) and small child, enjoying a safe journey. It really is this simple. (Photo: Talking Transport)

Off the deep end

You’ve probably seen the photos of the aerial swimming pool between skyscrapers in London. But there’s a deeper story behind this “fantastical aquarium of captive high net worth individuals”, and it’s a cautionary tale about the balance of luxury housing and affordable housing in cities. A fascinating long read for your weekend – and fortunately, this feels like a mistake New Zealand is managing to avoid so far…

Speaking of swimming

PS Looking for another family-friendly ride this weekend? The Bike Rave will be rolling along the new Southern Path on Saturday afternoon, 5 June, . The ride culminates in a silent disco with the legendary King Kapisi on the mic and turntables. Dress up, light up, join the ride. Details and tickets here.


RNZ reports:

Transport Minister Michael Wood has confirmed the government wants to build a new separate bridge for cyclists and walkers alongside the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

“A stand-alone structure is the safest option that will not only provide a walking and cycling option for commuters but creates an outstanding piece of tourism infrastructure.”

In the mean time, Waka Kotahi would continue to work on how to provide safe temporary trials of using lanes on the existing harbour bridge for cyclists and pedestrians, he said.

The transport agency said the stand-alone crossing would cost about $785 million, though it also warned costs would need to be refined.

It planned to start the process of securing approvals later this year using the Covid-19 Recovery fast-track legislation.

Construction could begin at soonest in the middle of next year. It would take somewhere between two and five years to complete.

There are a few really great things about the announcement.
  • Auckland Transport has got five years to create the approaches and wider network for cycling either side of this new bridge. As part of that, Auckland Transport will need to acknowledge and start working seriously on the CCMP’s Fanshawe St plans.
  • If they can pull this off within five years as planned, it will involve improved processes and that will leave us in better stead for other work going forward.
  • A temporary solution on the bridge is still on the cards, and if they do that properly it can demonstrate whether the cost of this bridge actually is required.
  • Finally, it’s nice to have a figure for how much Waka Kotahi is prepared to spend to NOT have to make the best use of the existing infrastructure, as per their own Intervention Hierarchy. As tweeted here,
A new structure is a cost of #carCulture – not the #activeTransport users it will carry.
Also this morning, is a nice interview with Dr Kirsty Wild, who points out that:
Auckland will never achieve the goal of seven per cent “mode share” for cyclists by 2030 to meet climate targets, without a link to the North Shore.

Meanwhile other NZUP announcements must be underway soon. Enjoy the weekend!

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  1. So………they’re building a bridge now?!?!?

    Half of me says this is amazing, but the other half says shouldn’t we just build a busway/LRT capable bridge with walking & cycling instead?

    1. 100%

      What you do across the whole of Auckland with $685m. How bout 100s of km of safe cycling lanes like the one in that photo from Christchurch.

    2. Yeah I’m conflicted to. Like sure a new bridge is great but at an order of magnitude higher cost than reallocating existing bridge lanes to active modes. It seems like a second or third best option in terms of value for money.

        1. Meanwhile down the other end of the island, WK-NZTA continues its expressway boondoggle, pissing away more money and locking in sprawls & SOVs:
          Sad that this is considered a necessary shovel ready project while the parallel railway gets nothing (despite the fact that geotech work was done around 10 years ago for a major realignment north of Otaki). Shows Labour’s priorities…

    3. No, they’ve announced they are building a ped/bike bridge. And once upon a time so did a chap by the name of Phil Twyford. The announcement, spectacular as it was, was all we got.

      The cynic in me does not want to hold my breath waiting for this government to honour it’s promises.

      1. The cynic in me says it’s done the the institutionalised PR dept at Waka Kotahi to piss as many people off as possible, cause a furore and sink the probability of adding a bike path the the existing bridge to the anals of history.

        Not sure who said it on a Liberate the Lane post on FB – but further entrenching Waka Kotahi’s inability to do anything.

  2. Skypath was poor value at $300m+ and a separate bridge for walking and cycling only at $650m+ with no rapid transit provision is even worse.

    It’s so poor I’m starting to think it’s misdirection because it cannot possibly be a serious proposal.

    1. Wondered that too. 600 million + for this and God knows how many billions for a tunnel. If they just got their shit together for once they could build a PT + cycle and pedestrian bridge for so much less.

      1. This bridge proposal puts a figure to how much WK are prepared to spend to NOT reallocate road space and reduce emissions via reducing traffic.

        Although some of that value to them will be in being able to demonstrate with a cycling bridge that the environmental concerns of a bridge are so high that they *need* to do a tunnel.

        1. Exactly, the opportunity cost is staggering. They’re essentially spending 600million to keep one lane of general traffic.
          It should be a view of we have x space available, making more space costs y per meter, how do we get the most value for New Zealand for the least amount of input.

        2. Yes this- we are still getting the same old whatever we do it cannot have any impact on cars and even things proposed as supporting walking and bike riding come with a side order of moar roads.

        3. So the government makes a decision and you still find a way to blame public servants? If you don’t like it why don’t you go whine to Cabinet?

        4. Ranui, yeah. I whine to Cabinet, don’t worry. In making their decisions on NZUP, Cabinet chose to turn a blind eye to the poor quality of information, analysis and wishlists that WK and councils presented to them. Governance is lacking – they should demand better – and their choices were not acceptable.

          But a lot of responsibility does rest on the supposed experts still using poor vkt and emissions modelling. WK’s response to the idea of liberating a lane demonstrates they still refuse to budge on some key transport concepts. The GPS calls for reducing vehicle travel, and liberating a lane would do this; WK instead talk of “impacts on the network”. They GPS calls for rapidly changing to a low carbon transport system, and reducing emissions; WK instead use faulty traffic modelling that shows increases in emissions from road capacity reductions, in defiance of the evidence.

      2. “If they just got their shit together for once they could build a PT + cycle and pedestrian bridge for so much less.”

        ….and then we would realistically have to wait *at least* 10 years for anything and nothing may then happen again. Imagine all the debate over light or heavy rail for starters or this route or buses or new bridge or other lanes or tunnel or two tunnels or 3 bridges or grade separated or down Dominion Rd or under or close it off and add cycling down there or up Queen St or or or??? We can’t even agree on this blog between reasonably like minded people at times, let alone out to the general public and government and councils and politicians and technocrats.

        1. Don’t forget we have the trial coming as well. If the trial gets made permanent or not and we end up with the standalone cycle/walking bridge we could also have bus/freight only lanes on the bridge itself.

    2. At 10 times the cost of the Waterview Tunnel on a per user basis it is indeed poor value for money.

      It will however be a notable tourist attraction so I just hope the plan includes parking for all the people who will drive to it so they can take in the best view in the city.

    3. $685M for the bridge plus another $100M for the Northern pathway connecting it to northcote and Takapuna.
      I’d like to see copies of the studies that made evaluations over what gave overall best value for money, and cost benefit analysis.
      How does it stack up against the option of taking a lane off the bridge, and putting this money towards a rail tunnel?

      1. Note the government is using this as a stimulus package, plus a political package to the greens and to some voters. They have also back themselves into a corner in promising this but not delivering (i.e. kiwibuild, light rail, 4 lane motorway in Whangarai (probably a Peters bribe which is no longer needed). It has nothing to do with value for money . It would have made more sense to build a bus/light rail bridge with cycling/walking on it ….but that probably would have costed more an not been on an optimal alignment (but maybe the bus could have been just for Onewa Road busway.

    4. They are going to say they have spent all the cycling budget for the year and there no money for other projects.
      That is their way. Gold plating so that easy pop up projects are cancelled

        1. But AT (and every other council) is co-funded by Waka Kotahi. if Waka otahi have to blow the whole budget on this then they can’t part fund anything anywhere else (or fund the northern pathway or other retrofits on state highways).

      1. This isn’t funded through the NLTF so the W&C budget isn’t impacted.
        The government is funding this through Crown money.

    5. I work for AT and this is a shocking waste of money
      This money should be used to build the rest of Aucklands cycle network. It is idiotic and I am disgusted with nzta and labour. Just take a lane of the bridge. This expletive sums up my feelings f$#@ C@*&$ xxx!@#$%^&*()₩¥£€_/=÷×+ FFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. If this separate bridge story is accurate, costing $785m (and not assuming cost overruns) without capacity for bus/trains then surely there are vastly more impactful public transport investments, let alone infrastructure or public needs that the money could go towards. The view was that Skypath was excessively costly,s o what is this. And btw, no one is going to come to Auckland and cycle the bridge as a tourist attraction. You don’t go to Sydney because you can walk across the bridge.

  4. This is a bit like Mangere Bridge a stand alone cycling and pedestrian bridge is being built meanwhile planning for public transport suggest another bridge or tunnel will be needed.
    It sort of leaves things up in the air or down in the dumps depending upon what is finally decided.

  5. The cycling and pedestrian bridge idea is crazy. Taking an existing lane should be the no-brainer. It is cheaper and faster. After that, sure, take the time to design and build a proper combined light rail, cycling and pedestrian bridge

    1. Actually taking an existing lane is politically very difficult verging on impossible in a car saturated society like NZ, hence this bridge proposal. At least by restricting the bridge to pedestrians/cyclists, the planning consenting hassles around the bridge approaches should be less than trying to put buses/trains on it.

      1. Yes, but at the end of the day if you spent an extra few 100 million (as a guesstimate), you could probably include a bus way. This would future proof the city & if so long as you ban large trucks on the harbour bridge there would be no need to build a second crossing. To me this just seams half arsed & 10 years from now we will all be asking ourselves why we didn’t include a PT option.

        1. Be careful what you wish for, you’re likely to get a bridge that is all busway with a narrow footpath jammed on the side because cyclists and pedestrians go together so well /s.

        2. Kraut – completely agree. If a PT and walking cycling bridge is going to cost $1.8b then let’s get on with it now.

    2. Has anyone taken Nick R’s proposal to WK / AT? He showed how is was possible to have a walkway and cycleway on each side of the bridge without taking any traffic lanes; just make the traffic lanes on the clip-ons the same width as those on the central span of the bridge, which nobody complains about, so nobody should complain about it on the clip-ons. Keeps everybody happy. Should be easy. (Or am I missing something?)

      1. Clarification: Nick R’s proposal is for a bi-directional cycleway on the outer edge of one clip-on and a bi-directional walkway on the outer edge of the other clip-on, not a cycleway and walkway on both clip-ons, as may have been interpreted above.

  6. Jeez, how did we end up here. Seems like total, erm, tunnel vision to end up at a bridge for any cost. It’s a bridge from not-quite-Herne Bay to not-quite-Birkenhead. Woop.

    If a cyclable bridge is unviable (and it clearly is), I’d love to see the Devonport ferry properly bikified and electrified, and and then A-grade cycle infrastructure from Devonport to takapuna and beyond. Probably more enjoyable and accessible for the leisure trips, and probably quicker for most commuting trips. And a relative bargain…

  7. Surely it’s all misdirection or a plan to finally take it off the table, because if a load of people interested in or are pro active modes are saying 700m is crazy, your anti cycle brigade are going to go completely feral…and rightly so.

    Give a lane over, put the safety measures in place and start serious planning and consneting for a PT tunnel or bridge now using that 700m plus the rest.

  8. The solution if Waka Kotahi was really serious about addressing climate change? Two lanes for walking and cycling, and two lanes for public transport (bus eventually light rail). Still 50% of bridge capacity for the climate destroyers. No extra infrastructure required, and a chance to reach mode share aspirations. Too simple? Of course, because Waka Kotahi is clearly not serious about addressing climate change.

    1. Getting rid of 4 lanes is not really going to make too much difference if you don’t have the infrastrucutre elsewhere which isn’t exactly WK fault. They can get a bus voer the bridge a bit quicker, but if AT don’t supply 24×7 bus lanes everywhere whats the point?

      They can get your bike over the bridge but if you want to go up through Ponsonby and get knocked off your bike on Ponsonby Road from the 100’s of parked cars then whats the point?

      Money needs to be spent elsewhere before rinsing $700m to cover a short amount of ground on a bike or foot.

      1. I would think the Northern Express would have an easier run to downtown with bridge preference. Perhaps one lane for buses (running one way in peak hour directions in line, and the other lane for walking cycling. 75% still dedicated to climate destroyers? And yes other infrastructure required from AT, but this is the big one.

    2. Yes, Matthew, I agree. The solution I think works best is that the heavier vehicles use the central span, with two lanes as bus lanes, and two lanes as heavy vehicle lanes. One clipon for light vehicles, tolled unless you have a mobility permit. One clipon for walking and cycling – you don’t need both those lanes but it would be nice and it would put egress for public transport next to the public transport lanes, at least on the sections where the bridge superstructure is not. They’ll probably need some spaghetti for getting on and off the bridge.

      This would increase the capacity on the bridge, improve transport options significantly and reduce carbon emissions.

      Then they can work on ways to convert the two lanes to light rail if possible – the current story is that this is not possible due to width requirements, but I *think* that comes down to egress requirements for light rail that aren’t needed for buses – and that seems rather nutty.

      If they can’t rationalise the egress requirements or design around it, and if it’s clear that the capacity needs to be more than 24/7 BRT can provide, at that point you’d consider a second rail and active bridge. Ideally in a different alignment to serve different users.

  9. “Work is also continuing on planning for an additional Waitematā Harbour Crossing. An initial business case was finished last year, and work is being done on enhancing the Northern Busway and developing an additional crossing that includes rapid transit,” said Wood.
    So more car lanes. Climate criminals.

  10. What the … The ugly duck has layed an extremely ugly egg.
    Ii looks exactly like how I thought and is total tunnel vision.

    1. Why does the cycling/ped bridge need to run at the same height as the existing bridge? If they’re building a brand new bridge why not reduce the deck height so there’s less climb? Are there still ships that need that much clearance?

      1. Well as sea levels rise the harbour is going to get deeper and the bridge lower, so I guess theres no point limiting things any more.

  11. I expect they could convert one of the clip-ons to walking and cycling and provide connecting paths for less than $15 million.

    So lets be clear, the other $670million isn’t the cost of providing for walking and cycling. Its the cost of bringing the harbour bridge into line with modern standards (providing for all road users) while continuing to provide the two extra traffic lanes in the peak direction of travel during the peaks, rather than just reducing the general traffic lanes to a permanent 3 each way configuration.

    1. The really bizarre thing is that WK will spend an enormous amount of money on light rail/metro to the Shore while making it less likely that people will use it because there are adding extra car lanes inducing vehicle demand. The induced demand used to be shown in figures on the WK site. Something like 45%.
      Light metro particularly is dependent on high volume usage which should be achievable if different mechanisms were in place to assist that. None of those mechanisms include the status quo off building monstrous car parks and having cheap parking at destination, or endless widening of motorways along the whole length.
      I think the expressions is Nafai’s.

  12. Waka Kotaki excel at building gold plated projects and putting them in the wrong place, not listening to the people and going against good logic. Sometimes just a basic design would work better and allow more funds for other projects.
    A pedestrian and cycle bridge over the harbour is wanted but WK again are stubborn and want to build a structure that they know is too large and will take too long to build. Everybody knows that there wont be huge numbers of users and a basic low cost 5 meter wide bridge would be ok
    They build stations such as at Drury and Parnell in the wrong place. They built Otahuhu, Puhinui stations are very large and expensive and then platforms at Otahuhu had to be redone 2 years later.
    They are building CRL stations like art galleries that will add years to the completion date.
    K’Rd and Tamaki Dr perfect bikeways were expensive, $20 million each, and frustrated cyclists who have had to wait 2 years and angered residents because of the high cost.

    1. Most of the projects you listed are not WK projects.
      Though I agree though cheap wins would be much more productive.
      But the problem is that in every conversation and project one of the unmovable criteria is that peak road capacity cannot go down. A criteria that throws most of the options out the window, but under incredible pressure they have to get the job done so enter the over-engineered, compromised solutions.

      How is the CRL stations being built like art galleries adding “years to completion?” I’m very sceptical about this claim. It takes a while to build station boxes and tunnels. Decorating them will happen at the same time as tunnel fit outs etc and really shouldn’t really add that much time. And these stations will last for at least 100 years, might as well make them look real good.

    2. I’m not really convinced the Drury stations are in the wrong place. Oh, sure, I’d put the Drury Station on the other side of the bridge but as far as the future expectations are concerned, there may as well not be an existing settlement at Drury.

      With Drury West (which should probably be renamed to Runciman), the rail line simply isn’t that close to where they’re developing to start with.

  13. $685m for a non-vehicle bridge is just ridiculous. It should be a PT bridge… 2 bus lanes and foot/cycle lanes. If that costs a little more so be it… at least it would be 100x more useful (considering the numbers using the NEX).

    1. Looking further, Penlink is a much more substantial bridge plus several miles of motorway standard road for only a little more. Sure AHB is a greater span, but not a lot more.
      Looking at the renders, it also looks like the whole thing is mixed use rather than dedicated cycle lanes! That’s just reckless and dangerous!

    2. Cycling and walking needs a lot lighter bridge than for double decker buses etc so won’t be that simple to pay just a bit more I’m sure. Main bridge could have some lanes dedicated to PT or whatever at the same time.

  14. That is bonkers from Waka Kotahi. Almost $700m to keep 8 lanes on the bridge? If we are going to spend that much money and a thirb bridge across the harbour is acceptable, then the new bridge should obviously be light rail+active modes from day dot. You’d almost get the active modes for free tacked onto an lrt bridge.

  15. As an interim solution to this plan on the never never to build this structure what about an electric barge direct from Northcote Point, straight across the harbour to Westhaven slightly west of the bridge where people to fish.

    A trip would be a few minutes max, at 15 minute intervals, run at a subsidised rate of a couple of dollars per trip, until this crossing is built.

    Put their money and intentions where their mouths are.

    1. Like roll on / roll off but for bikes?
      That is actually a good idea. You could have two running so it was basically a rapid transport turn up and go frequency too. Surely cheaper and easier than this bridge that won’t feature PT.

    2. +1, if the cost of a bridge is $700m, then (with discounting) it’s probably cheaper to buy two electric roll on/roll of ferries and run them continuously back and forth free of charge 24/7 forever.

    3. YES! Plenty of these small crossings up in Europe. Cheap, not a long wait and kind of fun.

      Maybe a wharf could extend out under the side spans to reduce the crossing time.

      I ride across the NW causeway a couple of times a week and do wonder how many takers there will be to ride across the bridge on a bad day.

      1. I use the NW causeway a lot and love being out in the elements but safe from the cars. The worst bits of my trip in that weather are still where I have to mix with traffic. I imagine bad weather days will affect bike traffic on the bridge mainly because of the rest of the separated network is so limited.

    1. I note Penlink is still in.

      Not sure it makes sense but as someone contemplating a move to the North Shore – and perhaps Whangaparaoa – I’m intrigued to see how it all works out.

      Hands up – hypocrite.

      1. Lol. You gotta find that sweet spot.

        I thought Manly was lovely last summer… until the jetskis came…

        1. Jetski’s are the new SUVs. Canoeing on Puhoi River and one comes round the coner at full speed nearly killing us…and don’t get me started on motorboats in Regional and National Parks. We are literally surrounded by water yet motorboats are everywhere in places like Abel Tasman! Anyway, I digress.

  16. Brisbane has multiple substantial pedestrian/cyclist only bridges, Auckland has zero. One bridge doesn’t seem like a huge ask by comparison.

    1. Its main bridge (Storey) also has shared cycling/walking – two paths, in fact.

      Maybe we should start with that first as well? I’m happy to then spend the balance of $600m on active transit links across other stretches of Auckland’s vast inner coastal areas.

      1. The crossing experience and design of the new bridges for cyclists/pedestrians in Brisbane is vastly superior to that of the old bridge with multiple lanes of traffic roaring past. The same applies to comparisons between “taking a lane” on the AHB and building a new safe high quality bridge. For once, do it right and reap the benefits in the future.

        1. It might be “vastly superior” but the function would be exactly the same.

          And “doing it right” would be a LRT/BRT bridge with cycling on the western side and walking, the east. Unfortunately it would take at least 10yrs.

    1. And also from that article
      “Meeting our commitment to decarbonising transport means that we have to start doing things differently.”

      Surely with the world so close to a climate crisis and NZ with a great chance of not achieving the stated aim of keeping temperatures less than 1.5 degrees of warming within the next five years the govt should be doing more than just making a start?

      Why is there a need for $200 million for a Melling interchange when a train leaves from here? Sure congestion might be inconvenient, but as the Mayor of Dunedin so rightly stated, not nearly as inconvenient as a massive weather event that decimates thousands of people’s livelihood, not to mention the economic cost.

      The government seem to be addressing climate change with the same lack of vigour that they addressed housing.

      1. The melling ‘interchange’ isn’t just about road capacity though. That $200m removes the most dangerous signalised intersection in New Zealand, raises the floodbank through the area (climate change mitigation) and includes improvements to access to the train station. If we raise the floodbank, then grade separating the intersection is the cheapest way to maintain acces.

        1. But isn’t that intersection so unsafe because of the huge volume of cars using those roads?

  17. Starship is trying to raise $15 mil to increase it’s capacity to care for our kids.

    $685 Mil for a bridge for cyclists and walkers ? Do we have our priorities right ?

    By the way, I have neither bike nor kids, so I’m not biased.

    1. One of the main benefits in business cases of cycling as a high mode share of transport is the health benefits surprisingly.
      I think this BCR is still going to be incredibly poor though.
      Overall we spend pretty insane amounts of money on transport though and as a share of GDP it should absolutely be lower. If we could transition to lower cost and lower maintenance modes we would have a much greater share of the GDP to spend on things like healthcare.

      There is also an infinite amount of money you could spend on both “caring for kids” and “transport”, transport gets a lot because it effects everyone all the time. If we really wanted to save the kids we could put 50% of GDP into that but that would have severe effects on everyone elses’ lives. There has to be a balance at some point the benefits to people from having improved transport all the time will outweigh the benefits of saving fewer and fewer kids per dollar. Ruthless, but simple reality of having limited resources and infinite demands.

    2. To be fair to the Government.
      They have actually done more than their bit on Starship.

      50% of the usage of Starship is from outside Auckland, so to reflect that the Government chipped in $25m of the $40m that was asked for by Starship to extend the Starship facilities.
      Of which the tear jerker headline is a mere 10 more beds in the PICU (kids intensive care unit).
      But that is just part of the total $40m expansion plans.

      Leaving, the balance ($15m, or about 38% of the total $40m cost) to be paid for by donations (or as it really should be, Auckland DHBs).

      Note that 50% of the Starship users who use it are actually living in Auckland so reside in one of Aucklands the area of the 3 DHBs – who are paid to deliver these services for the healthcare needs of Aucklanders. So you’d rightfully expect that these 3 DHBs would chip in $5m each to have the $40m fund raising job done by lunchtime. Doesn’t seem like this is how it is going to happen.

      However, the headline belies the actual story. Fact is, Starship is completely fooling itself about how big a facility it actually needs and is short changing itself big time – probably to get something now.

      That $40m will only deliver 45% increase in the kids Intensive care unit beds. And that will barely keep up with normal population growth over 10 years. In 10 years, it will be full again – from induced demand [pun fully intended]. Doesn’t sound like Starship is doing long term planning to me.

      The whole Starship cost about $230m back in 1990’s dollars. It was undersized even before it was built. Let alone with all the (predicted) population growth and increasing demands on it since then. So it has been pretty much underfunded ever since. So this “cap in hand” Starship funding situation is not a recent one. But it is surely one that needs to be addressed with long term thinking.
      But not here, not today.

      However, it really seems this Starship funding story is the original bridge penny pinching problem in a nutshell, except repeating over a 30 year timeframe not a 60 year one.

    3. They always underfund Starship because they know people will donate. They never ask for donations to fund a sexual health clinic or geriatric ward or any of the many other things Health Boards should and do provide. They exploit the publics’ goodwill and emotions around sick children to grab money.

      1. I actually don’t mind biasing any donations towards services to those who most likely have the greatest time ahead of them on this planet.

      1. I know right ? Imagine the shoes or school lunches or higher quality education even, that could buy.
        But no. Money for the already privileged for what amounts to virtue signaling and feel good factor.
        We have truly lost the plot.

        1. And all because we will not inconvenience the most inefficient users of the space and the single largest contributor to emissions in our cities.

          They face no cost whatsoever.

  18. I still think we’ll get the lane on the bridge.

    I think it’s telling that they are still investigating a trial period for liberating a lane. They’ll work on the business case for the additional bridge (wasting $ms in the process) only to decide that the business case is poor and that its not unlikely the cost would increase by 30% before completion, taking the cost to $1bn. To replicate a motorway lane.

    In the interim, the trial will show what we all know: there are traffic hold-ups every other day due to unforseen events, but a planned, permanent change timed with enhanced alternatives and flexible travel arrangements (where able) will show limited impact on traffic once bedded down. Certainly not traffic with a cost of $680m.

    And like all network trials like this, once embedded in the mind and in practice, its pretty hard to take back. Assuming you can’t move it with a forklift.

    1. Take the accidents, road works etc as given, they will hapen regardless of how many lanes are allocated to cars. The difference will be how much spare capacity remains for everyone to get around the blockage, this will be reduced if a lane or two is taken for cycling.

      1. But that doesn’t account for the people who would:
        – shift their time of travel (peak is the issue)
        -shift their route (WRR)
        – move to better PT amenity
        – move to walking or cycling.

        The change allows those shifts as well, freeing up capacity for the events you talk of.

        We’d see no discernible difference after about 6mths as travel habits change.

    2. Yes, and as is often said, the congestion is not on the actual bridge, it’s kilometres either side of it, as the last few on-ramps try to merge. I can’t recall being held-up on the actual bridge or the other side of it once over it – it’s as though the hour-plus queue of traffic getting to the bridge literally disappears as soon you start climbing the gradient, and on the other side it’s ‘tumbleweed’. If the approaches to the bridge were sorted out, 6 lanes would probably be plenty on the actual bridge (and if Nick R’s proposal was taken up, there could also be the 2 dedicated bus/busway lanes, as well as cycleways and walkways on each side of the bridge, with just the cost of the barriers, about $15 million, as some here have suggested, should cover that.*

      * Yes, there would need to be some ‘spaghetti’ at each end of the bridge to join up with the busway and dedicated lanes on Fanshawe St, but that’s a different matter that’s not on the actual bridge and is something that should be done anyway, because the busway is being limited by these sections now, when buses should have a congestion-free path all the way to really make the most of the infrastructure of the busway.

      1. Clarification: Nick R’s proposal is for a bi-directional cycleway on the outer edge of one clip-on and a bi-directional walkway on the outer edge of the other clip-on, not a cycleway and walkway on both clip-ons, as may have been interpreted above.

      2. What you describe is consistent with the bridge actually being the bottleneck:

        Before you reach a bottleneck you will see a queue. You basically have to await your turn to go through the bottleneck. After it you have free flowing traffic, since the bottleneck lets through less traffic than the capacity of the road you’re on now.

        That doesn’t mean we can’t take a lane — but we will have to live with some disruption for a while if we do.

  19. So, counting the comments to date, there are 33 negative, 1 positive and a few neutral. Somehow the Government / Waka Kotahi has managed to propose to spend $ 700 m on walking and cycling that 97% of the readers of the Greater Auckland blog think is badly directed or just plain wrong. What an absolute shit show. Do they not know what cycling around Auckland is actually like? You could not make this up.

  20. I think there is politics going on here. The same day it is announced we will get a
    cycling/ walking bridge in Auckland, we also get another announcement that other
    projects that were promised before the last election will not now go ahead.
    “We won the election, so let’s scrap some of those promises we made”.
    Living in Pukekohe, I’m sad to see the MIll road project cancelled.
    Odd that the cancellations are made on a Friday, before a long weekend.
    Today feels to me like April 1st.

    1. Hey GSmurf. Papakura to Drury motorway widening fell of the list also. $460M from memory. So many GREAT things we can do with $3.5B Mill Rd money (+ climate high court cases) and now $.4B SH1 savings. What a time to be alive !

      1. Interesting to see how this goes as they have already started works to move the lanes over and rip out the center median

  21. TBW, and all this negative comment has come from people who are largely supportive of active mode share. But sensibly not at any cost.

  22. A solution to the Harbour Crossing – Two very simple steps:

    1.) Cancel tunnel plans and immediately get NZTA to design a new bridge on a new alignment from Victoria Park Flyover area on a lower gradient to the bottom of Onewa Road intersection. 3 lane traffic, 2 lanes rail

    2.) Remove a lane of existing harbor bridge to permanently convert to a walking ns cycleway.

    North shore residents will be happy to loose a lane on the existing harbour bride if they know a new bridge with new lanes is being built and within an definite 5 -6 year time frame.

    1. I’ve got a one step solution that’s far cheaper. Build an LRT and active bridge from Wynyard to the toll plaza. We have too many lanes for driving already, the last thing we need is more.

      1. I guess didn’t finish with step 3.

        3.) Remove the nip on clip on off the habour bridge as its end of lifespan demands.

        The idea is – These steps allow flexibility for a range of transport modes. If we simply build a new bridge with for example 2 lanes it means not being efficient with future configurations. i.e bus lanes, extra rail or more walking. Allowing for removal of old bridge or converting it to entirely walking, and the new bridge having road lanes allows connections easier to be managed on this new alignment and open up Hern Bays Waterfront and remove the motorway.

        1. The clipons have, effectively, no end of life. No worse than the rest of the bridge. Their use just needs managing away from heavy vehicles.

          Cycling, walking and eScooters, perhaps?

        2. The old bridge clip ons are fine for light car traffic for many decades to come. Eg more than 50 years. No point in replacing any asset that has that long left in it.

  23. Great Day for Auckland. Summer bridge cycle lane trails must be 3 months not 12 sundays. Auckland Transports city parking strategy was predicated on “no skypath” and same car traffic in city center for the next 8+ years. Really pleased Pippa and Chris and team kicked it down the road. With all those (e)bikes pouring into Auckland’s heart – we wont want or tolerate queues of cars and their parking buildings.

  24. The good news is that this ridiculous proposal has as much chance of being built as the 100,000 kiwi build homes……ie zero. This government only has the ability stop things happening not make things happen. After so many failed delivery promises, only the very gullible will fall for this one.

  25. “Transport Minister Michael Wood has confirmed the government wants to build a new separate bridge for cyclists and walkers alongside the Auckland Harbour Bridge.”

    For the amount of money being spent, whether the incremental b/c would have justified a rail/ped/cycle/micro-mobility bridge?

  26. I have to laugh at all the negative comments from those who want a cycle crossing. The main gripe appears to be that there won’t be a reduction in car capacity – yet the same people have been saying that the bridge is not a bottleneck. Yes the $ is just ridiculous and should be spent elsewhere first. Just proves that every politician is the same. They love spending money on shiny things. I assume the toll will be $100 a go.

      1. I agree that TG should be tolled as there is an alternative free route. Same for all new or upgraded motorways. But of course per vehicle the cost would be similar to the northern tunnel. Given the bridge is half the cost of all of TG (which is an incredible when you think about it!) and usage will be small fraction for the cycle bridge the toll needs to be much higher.

        1. But there is no alternative free route for cyclists?

          Their taxes pay for a upkeep of bridge they can’t use and then we will toll them for another?

          Just give them a lane.

  27. Bridge news is really great. Together with tunnel for public transport being considered BUT I won’t believe until I see first shovel in the ground. We already were excited for Light Rail, then SkyPath. None of those big projects happened. I already saw comments from government saying it will be 6 years not 5. Not a great start…

  28. “IMO, the answer is to either build a rail tunnel or a second wider bridge. I would prefer the tunnel, simply because it creates a better PT route than pushing rail to follow the road around to the bridge.“

    I dont know what route you have in mind, but an optimal PT and cycling link would go from Wynyard point to just south of the Onewa interchange IMO. That way you would get to provide a station in Wynyard quarter, and an incredibly important interchange station at onewa road. The bridge on that route would presumably be cheaper than tunnelling so that should be the obvious choice.

    I kind of hope its a complex political play, in order to soften the public up to a bridge. First an addition to the original bridge, now its the same placement but with seperate supports, essentially a new entire bridge. And next a more useful bridge separated from the existing one. If it is something like that then we’re much more likely to get this optimal solution. But it could be just a whole lot of fumbling.

  29. Hi, I think before spending $650m on a new bridge, we need to understand the current status and life of the current bridge, including the clip ons. If for example the clip on’s are getting to end of life in 20-30 years then its better to combine the new bridge with a new independent clip on, where a new wider clip on can cover multiple modes.

  30. Some reasonable points there Resident, however the idea that it is a lack of ‘balls’ stopping a motorway tunnel is naïve. It’s a lack of $16-$18 billion dollars, and a desire not to make traffic worse.
    Building a motorway tunnel megaproject, four times as expensive as any project New Zealand has ever built, one that digs up half of Wynyard and Victoria Park and demolishes the Akoranga busway station, and guarantees to clog up all the motorways on both sides… so you can shift one lane of traffic off the bridge for a cycleway. Well, that’s a fairly convoluted way to do it.

    I think the solution here is a new bridge with two lanes for public transport, two for walking and cycling. Don’t try and sneak it in next to the existing bridge but build it on a more direct alignment towards Wynyard.

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