Infrastructure issues taken to the streets
Posted at 1:35pm Tuesday 15 Jun, 2021
Local cyclists say riding across the harbour bridge proved the point that lots of people want a bike lane.
The need for a bike lane across the main north/south link – Auckland Harbour Bridge – has been an ongoing sore point for cyclists (scooter riders and pedestrians) on both sides of the bridge.
Tensions boiled over during the Liberate the Lane rally, held at Point Erin, alongside the bridge, on May 30.
The rally was organised by Bike Auckland, who were clear that Waka Kotahi/NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) had refused its requests to allow cyclists to go over the bridge itself.
However, NZTA says it included the possible need to close lanes on the bridge in its preparation for the rally.
The rally attracted an estimated 2500 people and cyclists came from far and wide, including the Hibiscus Coast, to take part.
Bike Whangaparāoa's Paula Luijken volunteered at the event and says it was well organised.
“It showed the huge base of people keen for this infrastructure,” Paula says. “I saw pregnant women, children, cargo bikes with dogs and kids on board, BMXs and members of Bike GOD, who are all aged over 60. There were all ages and abilities.”
She said the breach of a small Police cordon by a few cyclists, who then led a ride across the bridge, “happened organically”. Around 1500 eventually biked across to the northern side
Paula's partner, Mike Garnet, was among those riders. He says it emphasised the point that the rally had made about the demand for a cycle lane.
Both Mike and Paula say once motorway upgrades between the bridge and Silverdale are complete, with dedicated cycleways included, it will be possible to commute via an e-bike. “I've promised myself that when the infrastructure is there, I will bike to work in the city,” Paula says.
Bike Auckland has asked NZTA for a three-month long trial of a cycle lane over the bridge this coming summer.
They also wanted a commitment to a permanent walking and cycling link over the harbour and last week, they got their wish with Government confirming plans for a separate cycling and walking bridge across the Waitematā Harbour at an estimated cost of $685 million. The bridge will be part of the Northern Pathway, which will extend dedicated cycling and walking routes to Esmonde Rd on the North Shore, with connections to Northcote and Takapuna. However, Paula says although the plan “looks beautiful”, like many cyclists, she won't believe it until it's built because of the shelving of previous plans like Skypath.
“I think the trial of one lane (of eight) on the harbour bridge in the interim is useful, in that it would provide access much sooner and show a commitment to active modes of transport. If it works, it will also be significantly cheaper.”