There’s been plenty going on behind the scenes of Bike Auckland’s Liberate The Lane campaign. It’s time we updated you.
You’ll remember that earlier this year we commissioned a report into the feasibility of liberating an existing lane on the Auckland Harbour Bridge for walking, cycling, and wheeling – also known as an active modes lane. That report, from transport engineering consultancy SmartSense Ltd, found that such a lane was safe, viable in engineering terms, and would not significantly impact motor traffic.
We invited Waka Kotahi, which is responsible for the bridge, to seriously consider the report and to get moving on liberating a lane.
Here’s the update: Waka Kotahi has written to us to say that nothing in the SmartSense report changed its view that an active modes lane on the bridge isn’t safe. You can read Waka Kotahi’s most recent letter here; in short it says that it won’t liberate the lane but still shares our aspiration to enable active mode connections across the Waitematā Harbour in advance of the Waitematā Harbour Connections project.
That project, of course, is still in the investigation stage and will take decades to complete. Even without the new policies that come with changes of government, construction won’t start until at least 2029.
Waka Kotahi’s current stance on Liberate The Lane is disappointing; we believe it ignores the evidence, runs counter to its own mandate and public aspirations, and perpetuates a yawning gap in Tāmaki Makaurau’s walking and cycling networks. But Liberate The Lane is here for the long haul. Bike Auckland will keep advocating for access for walking, cycling, and wheeling across the harbour so that Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland can become the climate friendly, world-class city it wants to be.
Plenty of campaigners have been where we are today. In Aotearoa New Zealand, the movement against sporting contacts with Apartheid South Africa began right back in 1921. The campaign for marriage equality started in the ‘60s. In both cases, the changes they fought for over decades are now embedded in society. It’ll be the same with walking, cycling, and wheeling in our city; in a climate emergency it’s simply too important not to.
So, where to next?
Our plan is to build public pressure for liberating the lane. Over time we’re going to develop the kind of popular support that led to marriage equality and put an end to racially-selected rugby. A big job, yes, but we’re up for it!
Our first step is a promotional campaign for Liberate The Lane. You’ll see the first iteration before Christmas on buses serving the North Shore. After that, expect plenty more noise in the public domain. One message will be that walking, cycling, and wheeling is quite possibly the most joyful way of crossing Te Waitematā.
Can you help? You bet! The first need is for funding to take Liberate The Lane to a much, much wider public audience. We’ve raised almost $15,000 via our GiveaLittle campaign, and now we’re asking you, too, to consider donating today. Believe us, it will make a difference.
We’re in campaign mode and we’d like you to join us. Get stuck in and help Liberate The Lane!