Looking East Over The BridgeI got up rather early on Thursday (6am – SO not a morning person) to attend the opening of the Westgate Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge*. So I got on my bike and started out from Pt Chev to ride 15km outwards to Westgate to do my little part, by representing CAA at the ceremony.

Waiting For The OpeningThere was a huge community turnout, as well as the expected officialdom – these locals have wanted this bridge for a LONG time, and fought hard for it. Something that was brought home by some of the speeches, especially of Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse – reminding us that it took the death of a young boy (racing his friends, who had used a stormwater culvert under the motorway) before the project was approved, and many more years before it finally got built. When almost all community facilities are on the other side of a motorway, something’s gotta give!

The local community can be proud of their new landmark – particularly impressive the sweeping yellow main truss, and the graceful looping half back on itself of the eastern approach ramp to make sure the gradients stayed suitable for cyclists too. I had a chance to speak with the Jasmax architect who designed the bridge (and some of the other stunning walking/cycling bridges we have seen recently around Auckland) and congratulated him on a sterling job.

Sweeping Look Backwards To EastOn the first day, we didn’t have many cyclists yet in the crowd, which is unsurprising, as the community in the area was, until today, severely lacking in any sort of dedicated cycle facilities.

But as I started out back to town (claiming for myself the first cycle commute using the new bridge) I was pretty sure that all the happy spirits couldn’t help but generate a few new cyclists around there as well. Now only to add some links from here southwards, so people can ride to Henderson and beyond, and we’re set.

* Even NZTA’s manager Tommy Parker agreed during his speech that it wasn’t the most flowing name, and said he looked forward to the nickname the local community would bestow on it. “Rollercoaster Bridge” seems like a good choice to me – fun and fitting the form.

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