Faster, smarter, greener bridge crossing

This morning I was one of several thousand people who crossed the Auckland Harbour Bridge by foot and cycle.

There was everyone from babies to grandparents waiting patiently until about 9:45 when 8 break away cyclists crossed from Shelly beach anyway.

Very good to meet @rowsell who is cycling from Bluff to North Cape to raise awareness and funds for the Spinal Unit.  Good luck for the trip Vaughan.

@ksuyin and @gnat were also there. Apparently Rod Oram and David Slack also. At one point I walked alongside ARC chairman Mike Lee.

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@rowsell on Auckland Harbour Bridge

Here is a photo of Vaughan Rowsell on the bridge from his twitter stream.

Seems like the official words was NO. Which predictably prompted the opposite result.

“Wayne McDonald, the Auckland regional director for the New Zealand Transport Agency had repeatedly told those gathered they would not be permitted to cross the bridge, but …”NZ Herald

In my view the NZTA mismanaged this and ended up blocking 4 lanes when they could have kept everyone on two.

If I remember my reading of “The Prince” correctly this could have been so they can say they were outnumbered and keep face as well as hoping that the blowback from annoyed motorists might cause some friction.

Of course I couldn’t possibly say that but considering the smart thing was to say YES it does seem like a natural consequence that might benefit from more debate.

The Auckland Harbour Bridge is 50 years old. Despite plans for rail, cycles and foot traffic it has been cars only all the way. Despite reports no progress has been made and so perhaps todays ( GetAcross) protest might help.

I first crossed Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1985 and on most visits I walk or cycle across. It is never crowded but when petrol hits $2 per litre again it will be sorely needed.

The Transport Agency should drop the “Road” part from their name. Might help them find out what their “mission” is. They think it’s roads for cars.

We think otherwise. It was a nice day for a Sunday morning walk.  Thanks to the organisers and the police who for the most part were very helpful.

Update 25th May: I did tell one official telling a child that they’d have something to talk about for morning report. Despite the potential for upsets most people seemed very sensible and restrained all things considered.

Like most of the people there I was unsure if they were an official NO or not.

I assumed that when people moved forward that permission had been granted.

The really big surprise was the way in which most media have reported on a historic event which for everyone there was a celebration of people power and possible change.

I just watched a TV presenter from TV1 here attack the protestors rep, the police and the RTA representative. That kind of reactionary behaviour might make a news programme more drmatic but it is also a key factor in why mainstream media is losing its grip.

Considering estimates of people on the bridge range from 2,000-5,000 there was no shortage of people who could have been asked about their morning walk.

I rather preferred this view in Burn Fat – Not Oil – As David Slack writes

“What we asked for was the chance to ride and walk across the bridge and remind everyone that there are other ways of moving Aucklanders around their city.

We say our way is healthier, cheaper, and kinder to the planet.

We say that it’s time to do some fresh thinking. Time and time again, the only mode of transport that gets the lion’s share of public funding is the almighty car.

Even though it costs a fortune. And even though the oil is running out.

Cycle lanes could do us so much good, and make so much economic sense in the long run, it’s remarkable, really, that we’re having to argue over the soundness of them.”

Thanks David.