An announcement yesterday that Birkenhead, Northcote and Bayswater will be without a ferry service for more than a year, due to a shortage of qualified ferry crew, emphasises the need for a lane for walking, cycling and scooting on the Auckland Harbour Bridge, says Bike Auckland.
Currently ferries – or a 50 kilometre journey on the western route using the Upper Harbour Motorway – are the only option for people who want to cross the Waitematā harbour from North Shore to the CBD with their bikes. Without ferries from Birkenhead and Northcote, cyclists crossing the Waitematā harbour will need to ride an extra 12km (roughly 45 minutes) to use the Devonport Ferry terminal – and the fastest route is along notoriously dangerous roads. This will also put extra pressure on the Devonport ferry and, as ferries have a limited capacity for bikes per trip, more people with bikes will be unable to get on board the ferry at peak times. The longer, more dangerous commute paired with this unreliability will force many to drive for their journeys instead.
“This is clearly impractical for most commuter cyclists, and highlights the gap in the city’s cycling network created by our motor-vehicle-only harbour bridge,” says Bike Auckland chair Karen Hormann
Hormann says this barrier to active travel modes is contrary to the steps to reduce greenhouse emissions and their impact on climate change outlined in Auckland Council’s Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan. Under the plan, the Auckland Council aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050, along with increasing cycling mode share by distance from 0.9 percent to seven percent.
To increase cycling mode share and reduce greenhouse gas emissions people need options to cross the Waitematā Harbour using healthy and environmentally friendly transport modes now – we cannot depend on cancelled ferry services and the many-decades-away proposed Harbour crossing.
Bike Auckland has proposed a solution for people to walk, cycle, and wheel across Te Waitematā – providing an active mode lane on the current Auckland Harbour bridge. This can be delivered rapidly by reallocating one motor traffic lane, and would give people who would usually use these ferry services a more reliable and affordable way to cross.
“Liberating the lane for people to cross the Waitematā Harbour meets Auckland Council’s Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase cycling mode share.”
“All major harbour cities have ways to walk or bike across the water, to the benefit of locals and visitors alike – think of Sydney, Vancouver, San Francisco. Meanwhile, Aucklanders have watched, waited and despaired for decades as plan after plan for walking and cycling across Te Waitematā has been proposed, picked apart and then cancelled – all the while enduring disruptions to ferries” says Bike Auckland chair Karen Hormann.
“This is the reliable, resilient and most affordable way to bridge the gap between the North Shore and the rest of the city. It’s time to get on with it.”