News that the latest iteration for a walking and cycling bridge for the Waitematā Harbour has been canned has been signaled from Wellington since last month.
Bike Auckland always understood the new bridge had a big price tag, was complex to consent, and needed years to build. It wasn’t the urgent solution Aucklanders wanted after years of asking to bike, walk and scoot to cross the Harbour.
Climate change doesn’t leave us the option to wait for years. We need practical solutions now to satisfy calls for transport choice and equity.
Bike Auckland was busy last summer helping Fullers and Auckland Transport cope with the flood of people with bikes and e-scooters swamping space on Devonport ferries to get to and from Downtown. We coped, but the numbers will boom this summer.
In April Bike Auckland launched Liberate the Lane, a campaign calling for a 3 month trial this summer to convert a lane of the Harbour Bridge for cycling. Summer is when the sun and people are out, enjoying biking and walking across the city. Peak hour volumes on the bridge drop, but it’s proven anyway that the bridge is not the bottleneck, the approach roads are the issue.
In May, 2500 people of all ages and from all parts of Auckland rallied to support the summer cycle lane trial. Shortly afterwards, Transport Minister Michael Wood called on Waka Kotahi to have a report on his desk about public access on Sundays for walking, biking and scooting across the bridge. It’s smaller in scope than our plan, it’ll attract holiday makers to the city to enjoy our vibrant harbour and waterfront. Business will benefit and people will love free, healthy outdoors time with whānau, soaking up panoramic Bridge views of the harbour and Gulf. Post Covid lockdowns, it is just what Aucklanders deserve.
Again, Waka Kotahi’s plan for a new walking and cycling bridge has gone, this time without an alternative on offer. E-bike sales have soared throughout the past year and will swamp ferry services again this summer if there are no additional cross-harbour travel options.
It is now just 3 months to December and summer. We need decisions without more delays.