Tāmaki Makaurau – Waka Kotahi is reconsidering trial access for walking and cycling across Auckland’s 63 year old harbour bridge at its board meeting on Thursday.
GetAcross, an organisation supporting walking and cycling on the bridge, is calling for the eastern-most lane to be trialled as it is forecast to have minimal or no effect on traffic and provides the best access for walking and cycling.
Waka Kotahi’s revisit of the trial is in response to challenges to the reasons for a judicial review of Waka Kotahi’s previous decision to not do a trial as requested by transport minister Minister Wood.
The minister requested a trial to see if the bridge functions when space is made available for active transport. Instead Waka Kotahi is proceeding with ticketed Sunday morning events.
The minister’s trial would be carried out over a number of days to see if it would reduce traffic, emissions, air pollution, parking demand, improve transport choice and equity.
Waka Kotahi’s response of ticketed Sunday morning events are little more than an expensive PR exercise, some say.
The requirement for Waka Kotahi to reduce emissions means less traffic lanes are required and more walking and cycling facilities are needed.
GetAcross spokesperson Christine Rose says they are hopeful Waka Kotahi will agree to the minister’s request for a trial and they have offered their assistance.
Should Waka Kotahi not agree to the minister’s request for a trial then GetAcross will lodge an application for a judicial review.
The harbour bridge has eight lanes and is operated by the Waka Kotashi (the NZ Transport Agency). It is the second-longest road bridge in New Zealand *after the Kaia bridge) and the longest in the North Island.
While often considered an Auckland icon, many see the construction of the bridge without walking, cycling, and rail facilities as a big oversight.
Last year, a stand-alone walking and cycling bridge called the northern pathway was announced by the New Zealand Government, but also wasn’t built.
About 170,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day, as of 2019, including more than 1000 buses, which carry 38 percent of all people crossing during the morning peak.