YES! A resounding yes! We are overjoyed to hear that the commissioners have approved the resource consent for Skypath. This is something Aucklanders have wanted, ever since the construction of the Harbour Bridge – and it’s finally within reach.

You can read the full 83 page decision here. Putting our sensible hats on for a second, there are a few final hurdles:

  • there’s still the possibility of an appeal
  • NZTA needs to give it the final sign-off, with further engineering and operational details
  • and Auckland Council needs to agree they accept the business proposal, which will likely go back before Council around the end of the year.

But this is truly a moment to celebrate. As Cycle Action chair Barb Cuthbert says,

“This is absolutely the critical step. Skypath will be the basis from which a city-wide cycle network will grow, and will be the stimulus to make it happen. Huge kudos to Bevan Woodward and the Skypath Trust for their incredible persistence and optimism over the last decade, and to all the pioneers and campaigners over the years.”

Take a moment to contemplate how transformative this will be: it is the missing link that will free up the full capacity of our most iconic structure, unlock a myriad of connecting bike projects on the Shore, and allow Auckland to finally join the world’s great harbour and river cities.

It is frankly amazing to think that when the bridge was first planned, six decades ago, walking and biking access (and rail!) was included — and then discarded, due to last-minute cost-cutting.

Even when the clip-ons were added in the late 1960s, confirmation that cost-cutting had been a shortsighted blunder… no walking and biking access. The promise remained unfulfilled.

Even when bold pioneers in the 1970s made the case – during an ongoing petrol shortage and the introduction of carless days – that it would make sense to make space on the bridge for active travellers? Still no dice.

But bike folk never give up. Remember how passionate the first GetAcross rallies were, in 2008 – 2009? Look at these faces! Barb’s in this one somewhere…

getacross2008
A GetAcross rally in January 2009, which gathered peacefully at the Westhaven end of the bridge to remind Council and NZTA of the urgent need to move things along. 

In September, one brave bunch made the dash from Northcote (including Judy Barfoot in her 70s!), to show it could be done. Love the quote from Cycle Action’s then-deputy chair Graeme Knowles:

GetacrossNewspaper2008

And, in the following year, when a permit was refused for a 50th anniversary walk and bike across the bridge because it would be “too popular”? This time, the GetAcross bunch broke away en masse and got across anyway! More pics here.

Remember when thousands of Aucklanders unexpectedly swarmed onto the bridge in 2009, for the 50th anniversary, determined to GetAcross in their lifetime!
Thousands of Aucklanders unexpectedly swarmed onto the bridge in 2009, for the 50th anniversary, determined to GetAcross in their lifetime! (pic via Wikimedia)
Graeme Knowles and son, atop the bridge, GetAcross 2009.
Graeme Knowles and son, atop the bridge, GetAcross 2009.

Finally, let’s flashback for a moment to the opening of the bridge in 1959, when Aucklanders were given the first and officially last chance to walk freely across the bridge.

1959bridgewalk

This cheery newsreel is a classic. Note the rueful commentary about how overdue the bridge was, even then… and yet the sheer excitement about how transformative it would be:

“It’s a great day for Auckland. 100 years after the first plans were drawn, the bridge is ready for opening. In 1860, a wooden bridge would have cost 16,000 pounds. This one cost 6 million.”

That’s Auckland in a nutshell. A day late and a dollar short… and proud as punch when we finally get around to it.

This time, we’ve finally caught up with ourselves. Now we can do it right, get ahead, and get across.

Hip hip hooray!

For media comment, contact Barb Cuthbert at barbcuth@gmail.com

PS Check out this SkypathTimeline, starting with the petition in 2003/2004, taking in the GetAcross campaign in 2009, and bringing us up to 2013. (NB the actual design for Skypath has been refined since then, and the final version will be even better than you can imagine). And just to hammer it all home, feast your eyes on these before and after images of what it will mean for cycling in Auckland…

BeforeSkypath

AfterSkypath

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4 responses to “A Yes for Skypath!!! This. Changes. Everything.

  1. Congratulations Bevan and the SkyPath team! The decision is a massive step forward. We’ll hear more about the conditions attached – but in the meantime, how great to celebrate Aucklanders’ passion for an AHB link – take a bow all the past heroes, CAA members, and thousands of Auckland supporters.

  2. Well done to everyone involved in getting this over the line, I hope you celebrate long and late tonight, you deserve it!

  3. Well done Bevan and the SkyPath team. It’s been a long, hard, frustrating campaign, and I have to admit that 10 years ago I’d have said, “Not in my lifetime”. Then progressively a little bit of optimism, then more and more as support from AC, AT & NZTA came in. That a small group of dedicated citizens can achieve such a great outcome for the people of Auckland is fantastic.

    Arise, Sir Bevan!

  4. The timeline above shows just what a monumental achievement getting this across the line and it’s a credit to the Bevan’s advocacy, persistence and diplomacy over the past 10 years or more. He’s done a great job, with others, of convincing local politicians that Auckland and New Zealand are not unique, and that we can find other forms of transport complementary and even more appealing than the car. I read somewhere recently that when car-free zones were first proposed for Copenhagen they were castigated for being anti-Scandinavian and an insult to Danish culture… perhaps we now are close to a tipping point. Of course politicians don’t lead change. The culture has to change first so that the politicians can emerge and make decisions they know will be popular. Which means Bevan et al. have made an even greater contribution to our society than this decision alone shows.

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