SkyPath funding confirmed; delivery firmly in sight!

Aug 24, 2018
SkyPath funding confirmed; delivery firmly in sight!

Bike Auckland

On Thursday 22 August, Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Acting Associate Transport Minister James Shaw confirmed that the government will fund and deliver SkyPath, the walking-biking crossing over the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

We’re ecstatic!

SkyPath will be funded to the tune of $67m from the National Land Transport Fund as part of a wider (and unprecedented!) $390m investment in walking and cycling around the country over the next three years, and will be delivered via the NZ Transport Agency.

The government taking on this historic project makes all the difference in terms of certainty – and it definitively rewards the relentless optimism and hard work of everyone who has worked towards this moment over the decades to keep the dream alive – especially SkyPath’s 21st C champion, Bevan Woodward; and of course the 11,000+ of you who took the time to lend your names in support! The people have spoken and the government has finally heard us.

Auckland is as sure as sure can be that SkyPath is a good thing – and the Shore sure is as sure, too! (Screenshot of SkyPath submissions map made by Timothée Duhamel)

Pssst: if you liked being part of the win for SkyPath,

you’ll LOVE joining our call for bikeways on Dominion Road!

Sign the Dominion Road bikeway petition while you’re here!

The footage of Thursday’s announcement is well worth watching. We loved the way Phil Twyford began by evoking the ultimate winners of all this investment: our kids. It’s about liveability, connectedness, health, sustainability – all of those things. But it’s ultimately about people, and freedom, and the future.

“A generation ago, most Kiwi kids walked or cycled to school; and only a couple of decades ago, it was normal to see dozens and dozens and dozens of bikes lined up outside schools. The ride to and from school was a chance to hang out with your friends, make mischief, and get some inadvertent exercise along the way. And it also meant that parents had one less job to do in the morning… New Zealanders want the freedom to hop on a bike, to walk to work, to get to school, to do the things that they want to do in our cities. But they need the infrastructure to do that.”

Mayor Phil Goff, Minister Phil Twyford, and Minister James Shaw, all smiles at the announcement. (NZH footage)

We especially loved the generous (and repeated) acknowledgement by the ministers and the mayor of the work of advocates over the years, especially the tenacity of Bevan Woodward and his colleagues in the last decade and a half.

Bevan Woodward, crediting the coalition government with the vision to make SkyPath happen for the people. (Newshub footage)

We also loved the special shout-outs to two really effective women: Associate Minister Julie Anne Genter (currently at home with her new baby), praised as a ‘strong advocate for cycling’ as exemplified in the ‘ultimate commitment’ of her world-famous bike ride to the hospital at 42 weeks pregnant!

And thanks went to our chair, Barb Cuthbert: ‘a representative of what has become a powerful social movement in our city and in our country’ (said Phil Twyford), ‘who has done so much to popularise the idea of a cycle network across all of Auckland’ (added James Shaw) and is legendary for her ‘enthusiasm and relentless advocacy’ (cheers, Mayor Phil Goff!).

Our chair Barb Cuthbert, ecstatic to support the historic announcement (Newshub footage)

This day been such a long time coming: it’s 72 years, in fact, since a 1946 government-commissioned report outlined plans for a harbour bridge that include a ‘footpath and cycle-track’ – but which was eliminated for budget reasons, even when the bridge was doubled in width with clip-ons a mere decade after it opened. It’s impossible to overstate how good it is to see that original promise finally delivered on by this coalition government.

The 1946 Royal Commission report makes for fascinating reading, not least because it envisaged the need for fleets of ‘electric trolly-buses’ long before the busway was mooted…
…and promised footpaths/ cycle-tracks on both sides.

On a project as huge and as longed-for as SkyPath – with so many steps along the way – it would be easy to get ‘victory fatigue.’ From the very earliest campaigns, through to the immense and patient effort of Graeme Knowles and Bevan Woodward and the Skypath Trust in building public support (all those breakaway rides and walks!), creating partnerships both public and private, and working with Council and the NZ Transport Agency and Morrison & Co to scope the possibilities and gain consents; to the successful resource consent and the Environment Court appeal and the upheld consent… We can’t count the number of times we’ve celebrated – and then waited for the next step.

Today’s announcement lifts us into a new state of confidence that SkyPath will happen, on our bridge, in our lifetimes. And, in contrast to the toll required under the previous private-public partnership, firm indications were given that access will be free. Woohoo!

So when can we ride?These are the next steps, based on today’s information:

  • NZTA is working on a detailed business case, to be completed by mid-2019.  This will determine the preferred design and the construction timeline, as well as clarifying the costs and benefits to confirm the case for investment.
  • Assuming the detailed business case confirms the economic case, the project will proceed to implementation.
  • Construction will start after the necessary designs are complete and consents in place.

The next few years will see the competition of the business case, design, any necessary consents… and then construction. Will it be ready in time for the Americas’ Cup? That’s the strong hope. Obviously, we all want the best beautiful and safe design, and we all hope the consenting process will be smooth and the opposite of acrimonious, given the widespread consensus that this necessary project should happen without quibble and delay. And of course we are fully confident the Transport Agency has the expertise to deliver this project quickly – it knows how long Auckland has waited already. We’re optimistic on all counts.

Oh, and – what about the other $323m of cycling and walking investment for the whole of Aotearoa over the next three years? We look forward to that information being announced on August 31, with the publication of the full 2018/21 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP), which gives effect to the Government’s transport priorities. Again, we’re extremely optimistic!

Just a fraction of the Get Across crowd, at a rally in January 2009 – showing the longstanding enthusiasm for a walkable, bikeable bridge crossing!
Graeme Knowles, who organised the petition for a crossing in the 2000s, with the crowd at the breakaway walk and ride on the 50th anniversary of the bridge opening, May 2009.


Government to fully fund $67m SkyPath – Newsroom

Government to fully fund walking and cycling path over Auckland Harbour – NZ Herald

Safety is top priority for SkyPath cycleway on Auckland Harbour Bridge – NZ Herald

Govt announces $390m walking and cycling package; will fund SkyPath – NewstalkZB, with video.

Government pledges $67m to build SkyPath cycleway – Newshub, with video interview with Barb Cuthbert.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomes SkyPath commitment – Our Auckland

SkyPath across Auckland Harbour Bridge to get $67m in funding – RNZ, with audio report here, including comment from our chair Barb Cuthbert: ‘Honestly, if any project was tested, reviewed, scrutinized, it is SkyPath. In terms of equity, it’s fabulous that now people won’t have to pay for it. Because I reckon we’ve paid for it. We’ve absolutely toiled for this project. Auckland deserves it.’

Government media release, Thursday 23 August 2018

Govt to fully fund SkyPath as part of $390m investment in walking and cycling

Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Acting Associate Transport Minister James Shaw have announced the Government intends to fully fund Skypath, the walking and cycling link across Auckland Harbour bridge, as part of a $390 million investment in walking and cycling projects nationwide over the next three years.

‘Skypath is a transformational project that will give Aucklanders the freedom to walk and cycle from the Shore to the city, all while taking in an amazing view,’ said Transport Minister Phil Twyford.

The NZ Transport Agency Board has confirmed $67 million of National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) investment to progress Skypath as part of a larger $390 million walking and cycling investment package in the 2018/21 National Land Transport Programme (the NLTP). The full 2018/21 NLTP, including details on specific transport projects, will be announced on Friday 31 August.

‘The $390 million package will be the single largest investment ever in walking and cycling infrastructure for New Zealand and represents a $96 million increase on the previous three years,’ said Acting Associate Transport Minister James Shaw.

‘More and more Kiwis want the freedom to cycle safely around their towns and cities, and this investment in safe cycle infrastructure is needed to making that possible,’ said Mr Shaw.

‘Skypath is the obvious, critical missing link in Auckland’s cycle network and will become an iconic feature of Auckland’s Harbour Bridge.’

‘Skypath has been talked about for over a decade, but it now has the funding certainty to move ahead,’ said Mr Twyford.

‘The NZ Transport Agency will complete a detailed business case for Skypath by mid-2019, which will provide more certainty around the design and timing of the project,’ Mr Twyford said.

Bike Auckland’s media release, Thursday 23 August 2018

Bike Auckland ‘ecstatic’ Government will fund and deliver SkyPath

Auckland’s leading non-profit cycling advocacy organisation, Bike Auckland, is ecstatic with the Government’s announcement today that it will fully fund and deliver SkyPath.

Bike Auckland’s Chair, Barb Cuthbert, says the Government’s move is visionary and is backed by decades of work to make SkyPath a reality, fulfilling a huge and long-felt need. ‘Like the Waterview Tunnel, this project will be used and celebrated by thousands of Aucklanders every day, and will change lives. Not only will SkyPath allow people to ride from the Shore to the City, it will also enable travel from out west along SH16, from the east along Tamaki Drive, and from the southside via the wonderful new SH20 and Waterview cycleways.’

As Auckland joins the league of world-class cycling cities, walking and biking access over the bridge has become increasingly crucial. With LightPath/ Te Ara i Whiti bringing international fame, visitors to Auckland naturally assume they can bike or walk across the bridge and circle the harbour. Bike Auckland salutes the Labour, Green and NZ First coalition Government for stepping up to bridge this gap by creating a landmark project and a healthy and sustainable legacy for generations to come.

This is also a stand for equity, recognising that the people of Auckland deserve free access to major public infrastructure, especially where there is no alternative. Northcote is currently deprived of its ferry service – a gap that should be addressed soon, so that once SkyPath is built people can ride and walk the Bridge and return by ferry. For locals and tourists alike, this will be a marvellous way to showcase our city’s connectedness, and the stunning beauty of the Auckland waterfront and the glorious Waitemata Harbour.

‘The Auckland Harbour Bridge is our iconic structure, echoing our natural icon, Rangitoto, so Skypath will be a huge gain for Auckland tourism as well as the booming numbers of locals choosing to travel around our city by bike,’ said Cuthbert. ‘We are fully confident the Transport Agency has the expertise to deliver this project quickly – it knows Auckland has waited too long.’


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