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“Skypath” across harbour to become a reality?

Allowing people to walk or cycle across the harbour bridge is an aspiration that has been a long time coming. When the harbour bridge was originally proposed it included walkways, like Sydney’s harbour bridge, but the government of the time was concerned about ballooning costs and in the end all we ended up with was a four lane traffic bridge. Then when the clip-ons were added in the late 1960s we ended up with an eight lane harbour bridge but once again no ability to walk or cycle across the Waitemata Harbour.

While in recent times there have been concerted efforts to push for a walk/cycle connection across the harbour, I must say that most of the time I thought it was more aspirational than having a real chance. Particularly as NZTA continue to have a measly budget for walking and cycling projects in Auckland. However, a report to Wednesday’s Transport Committee meeting suggests that there’s actually a feasible and viable plan for making this project become a reality – a plan which doesn’t have to cost ratepayers and taxpayers a single cent: it only requires a commitment in terms of taking on revenue risk liability.

The report begins by outlining updates to the project since it was last brought to the Committee’s attention – back in August 2011. The updates are:

  • The AHB Pathway Trust (the Trust) has developed a lighter structure by using aluminium in the central span;
  • Auckland Transport (AT) has undertaken a review of the SkyPath’s business case and referred it back to the Council to consider funding sources;
  • A range of capital costs for the project has been identified between $28 and $41 million.
  • There is still uncertainty about the capital costs, however for the purpose of the financial analysis in this report a cost of $31 million has been assumed (as outlined in paragraph k) in Attachment A);
  • Update of information in the Trust’s business case and public private partnership (PPP) proposal;
  • Comparison of the SkyPath to the rest of the transport and cycling and walking programme;
  • Quantification of the Council’s contribution to the SkyPath; and
  • Initial identification of project risks (outlined below in paragraph 20).

Oh, and the Trust also created a pretty cool image of what the Skypath could look like at Christmas time:skypath-imageAs I understand it, the proposal for constructing the project is through a PPP between the public agencies involved (Auckland Council, Auckland Transport & NZTA) and what’s referred to as the “PIP Fund” – a private company willing to take on the 25% highest level of revenue risk and to fund the project up front. Payments for crossing the bridge – in the form of a HOP Card or cash – would raise the revenue required to cover capital repayments for the project and operating costs.

Here’s the proposed toll levels:ahb-pathway-tollWhile the report goes to painful lengths to note that this is just the beginning of the process for making the project a reality – in terms of getting official Council support and for Council to take on the revenue risk of the project (not to mention the possible long term requirement for maintaining the structure) – this is a really exciting step forward. And while the PPP structure isn’t perfect (why should we pay a toll to walk across the bridge when we don’t have to pay one to drive across it) I think it’s highly likely in the future that things will change and perhaps NZTA will realise it’s a transport agency rather than just a roading agency – and they’ll take on ownership and responsibility for the structure.

Plus the case for the project is pretty compelling – particularly if all logic and sense tells us that an Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing (in motorway form at least) should be a lot more than 20 years away. In a nutshell, the report makes a really good argument for the suggested approach:reasons-for-pathwayI sincerely hope that at Wednesday’s meeting the Transport Committee at least gives this approach a go. I think that not only would the pathway be a great transport connection and tourist attraction – but I also can think of it as an incredibly fun thing to wander across on a sunny summer’s day.

Here is a Cycling Auckland’s call for support for the project [thanks Max]:

http://caa.org.nz/government/auckland-council/auckland-harbour-bridge-pathway-we-have-never-been-closer-to-success/

96 comments to “Skypath” across harbour to become a reality?

  • Sanctuary

    You know, I quite like the idea of a cycle path over the bridge. but in reality, the steepness of the incline means it would most likely be the preserve of the lycra clad serious business cycling set, and as such I am uncomfortable with the idea the rates of Joe Sixpack in Manurewa subsidising the hobbies of the noisy middle class from Takapuna. What would probably be more useful would be using such a lane to allow 50cc scooters to cross the harbour.

    • Ok for J6P’s rates to go on roads for middle class drivers though? And of course for those middle class rates to for J6P’s roads down south. What a weird objection, anyway, insanely, the thing is proposed to be user pays.

    • NCD

      Nice bit of suburban stereotyping there.

      I don’t think there’s any rates going near the project (unless you count the time of council workers negotiating the deal or the dim possibility the project will flop)

      http://getacross.org.nz/faq says the 3% gradient is “easy” by NZ Cylce Trail standards. Maybe it just seems steep in your Howick Skoda or your Ponsonby Bambina ;-)

      • Max

        Correction, NCD – it is 3degrees, which is 6-7%. There’s no question that that is steeper than in an ideal world, but having been up the bridge during the protest in (2009, was it?) I can vouch for the fact that one very much doesn’t need to be a lycra fitness person to ride it.

        • So no steeper than the climb of the Northwest cycleway up to Newton Rd, or the section along Ian McKinnon, or for that matter no steeper than parts of Symonds St. Those aren’t by any means the domain of the stereotypical lycra clad sports cyclist.

          Plus it’s also a footway, I can foresee quite a popular tourist activity of a walk over the bridge and a ferry back from Northcote Pt. And I mean tourist as in local Aucklanders in the most part, not just German backpackers.

    • Bryce P

      I think you have over estimated the gradient and under estimated the latent demand for the commuter cyclist from the shore, who would like to cycle to town.

    • Those not wanting to cycle up the incline could always push their bike up and then enjoy the ride down the other side

      • Max

        Plus, from memory, a large part of the patronage projections are from (walking) tourists and general visitors anyway, not – at least not initially – cyclists. So pedestrians and casual riders will throng to the bridge during the weekends and peak season times, leaving it nice and free for commuters during the ungodly morning hours ;-)

        • SteveC

          I used to bike from Northcote to the Auckland CBD three times a week using ferries, if this facility had been in place back then it would have closer to every day and even a $2 toll would have been significantly cheaper than the ferry.

    • An electric bike will laugh at that incline then chew it up and spit it out.

      • Sanctuary

        An electric bike costs $1500 and up, which translates to out of reach for most New Zealanders – as opposed to scooters, which are faster, more versatile and availaible in large numbers on the second hand market at anything down to a third of the price of electric bikes. Sorry, but e-bikes are still expensive follies really.

        • Matthew

          I call bullshit on that. e-bikes are competitive in price with normal bicycles. They are heaps cheaper than buying or operating a car. They also don’t have ongoing fuel costs like a scooter, and unlike a small scooter they don’t pollute. There is also no chance that they will banned in the future. 2 stroke scooter buyers should be prepared to have their stinky, noisy vehicles legislated out of legality. Buyer beware.

          I went on a 31km ride this morning (hitting top speed of 67.7km/hr on a downhill stretch) on my 4 year old electric bike.They are fantastic technology, and I recommend them for everyone, fit or unfit, young or old. We just need to build more safe cycle infrastructure so more people can get about on them safely. I don’t know, maybe build this clip-on across the harbour bridge. Now there’s a good idea. Your shitty scooters can stay there in the road lanes with the stinky diesel buses, the 40 tonnes trucks, and the thousands too many 1.5 tonne rust buckets called cars. Alternatively drain the fuel and turn them into artificial reefs.

          They are not expensive follies. They are great moderately priced technology that could change cities if it wasn’t for the deadweight momentum of the mediocre thinking of the masses.

          • Sanctuary

            I suspect your comments reflect something of an outlier position.

          • Matthew

            Yeah it’s tough being in the tough percentile.

          • Matthew

            Yeah it’s tough being in the “top” percentile.

            “The deadweight momentum of the mediocre thinking of the masses” gives me the irrits.

          • Sanctuary

            First of all, e-bikes may be competitive with the sorts of bikes you might consider buying, but out there in average income New Zealand people typically will source their bikes on Trademe, at K-Mart and at the Warehouse, where bikes are to be had at $200 or less. There is very little by way of a cheap second hand market for e-bikes, and such is the state of e-bike technology then buying a second hand e-bike could be to buy a lemon with a dying battery or whatever. When all you have is $500 to get you mobile, then anything $501 and above is unaffordable, and an e-bikes retailing for $1500 might as well be $15,000. All in all, e-bikes are an attractive option to anyone who can afford their initial high cost and where they meet a specific transport niche. But as a transport option for the masses? I don’t think so, not unless the government subsidises them.

          • Matthew

            And what is a decent 2nd hand car worth now? $12K and up? And it costs $100 to fill the tank each time.

            The great thing about cycle infrastructure is that those $150 Warehouse Chinese cheapies can use it too (until they fall apart).

            The only thing the government should do is build better quality bike infrastructure.

          • Sanctuary

            Yeah e-bikes are totally unaffordable compared to tens of thousands on a car, and cost so much to run too….

            ‘As a transport option’, your words, that’s the height of the playing field.

          • Sanctuary

            “…Yeah e-bikes are totally unaffordable compared to tens of thousands on a car,…”

            To be fair, I was comparing e-bikes to scooters, not cars. It was Matthew who mentioned the four wheeled love that dare not speak its name in these forums.

        • While I take umbrage at you referring to my main means of transport as a “folly”, I realsie you are speaking from a position of complete ignorance.

          I looked at scooters as an option but they cost a lot more to buy plus there are higher running and maintenance costs.

          Overseas (especially China) ebikes are hugely popular and used by a lot of people. They have all the advantages of bicycles plus a lot of the advantages of motorised transport – i.e. they are motorised.

          I just did a quick look on Trade Me for second hand scooters and the lowest Buy Now offered was $1,200. I paid $1,700 for my ebike a few months ago.

          I think you need to go away and do a bit more research on ebikes and how they work.

        • Also, ebike for less than $500: http://www.trademe.co.nz/sports/cycling/other-bikes/auction-559663372.htm

          I couldnt find any scooters on Trade Me in Auckland for less than $500.

    • SteveC

      I spent a while looking around Auckland for climbs of similar grade and length and found that Lake Road outside Takapuna Grammar was very similar, if a little steeper. When the gradient issue was raised in an NSCC committee meeting I pointed this out and Dianne Hale’ immediate response was “I’m not a regular cyclist and I can climb that”, bless her

    • Christopher

      It’s not steep at all. Your perception is clouded by your experience driving over the bridge. It’s a gradual climb and very doable by your granny in a granny gear on her 21 speed. And trust me, she’ll have lots of fun going down the other side, equally a long decline…

    • Stranded on the North Shore

      I’m not a lycra rider, and I’m no hugely fit either. I rode my bike over the Harbour Bridge during a cycle event last year (or the year before, forgot), with many families and kids attending. My gears weren’t the highest, and I wouldn’t describe the ride as lightening fast, but it wasn’t a difficult climb either. Very gradual easing towards the top. no more than 3 minutes to get to the top. No sweat. The biggest issue was the wind blowing in my face. And… there was not a single person was walking.

      I see no problems for casual riders or commuters riding the bridge.

      • Sanctuary

        I cycle to work every day, and I guess my issue is I see a lot of this – http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_YcsRkF6yBLI/SbBYbe6nJFI/AAAAAAAAE1w/1KyEcrO8pfE/s320/Jake+and+Austin+Biking+2.jpg when really, if we want to “mainstream” cycling as a transport option we should be wanting to see lots and lots more of this – http://idonotdespair.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/amsterdam-cyclists6.jpg In other words, i would like cycling to be seen as a louche and pleasant variant of PT, rather than a form of self-punishing Puritan PE that happens to get you to work at the end.

        I want to be sure that cycleways are suitable for a mum on a bike with a load of groceries in the front basket and kid cycling behind, not that I am simply helping pay for other peoples exercise.

        • Max

          Actually, you wouldn’t be paying for it even if it was ALL just the “physical exercise” crowd because it will be user pays…

          But regarding your key point: The only way we would EVER be able to change the grade of this bridge would be to pull it down and re-build a new one. Even if that ever happens, it will not be within 10-20 years. So if we want a cycleway to the Shore now, we will have to live with a 6% climb. PPP or tax funding, tolled or not. That grade isn’t going to change, even if the money fairy was handing out the cycleways that the government doesn’t want to pay for.

          And it will only be “self-punishing” if you insist on it. Give yourself some time, and a BIT of fitness (i.e. semi-regular rider, instead of the first time ever on your bike) and you will just cruise across. Including while having a child in the back seat. Lets hope we can all put it to the test soon.

          • Sanctuary

            I think that user pays is absolutely wrong, it should be free – if it is free to drive over then it should be free to cycle over. But if it is free, then that implies a significant amount of public money – in which case the cycle path has be of a practical use by all cyclists. Hence my suggestion below for maybe some sort of cable to help tow the unfit or lazy up the incline for a fee…

        • I couldnt agree with you more and that is why I really think you need to revise your opinion on ebikes. In a hilly city like Auckland if we ever want a cycling culture like Europe, ebikes allow the grandmother to get up that hill with her groceries.

          They really arent that expensive, especially when you consider their incredibly low running costs. Certainly much more cost effective than a cheap car or scooter.

          I will tell you the killer app to really get cycling going. Covered cycleways. A simple perspex roof to keep out the rain. Still a LOT cheaper than roads or railway lines (though we need the rail line as well!).

    • This guy is riding over that exact bridge, on a Raleigh 20, wearing a suit and tie: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10752493

  • Max

    ” in terms of getting official Council support and for Council to take on the revenue risk of the project (not to mention the possible long term requirement for maintaining the structure)”

    Actually, Council is being asked to cover only the less risky part of the funding risk – the part that is riskiest (i.e. I I think I remember it being the riskiest 30%) is actually underwritten by the funders, not by Council.

    Also, this funding risk is, I understand, based on a very conservative patronage projection – the one that everyone could agree on.

  • Matthew

    Cyclists will do fine with the incline. 50cc scooters should be banned, not just from the bridge, but from everywhere, because of the filth in their exhaust. (30% of the hydrocarbons in a 2-stroke are unburnt and are in the air to get breathed in my cyclists and pedestrians). The toll for cyclists goes against every fibre in my body. If they need money to build the thing toll the bridge for trucks and cars.

    • Sanctuary

      I am surprised by this comment. Surely if we are discussing better transport, then surely someone on a 50cc scooter is a better outcome than having someone in a 20 year old four door saloon. I think your comment veers dangerously towards PT puritanism…

      • Matthew is hypersensitive to atmospheric pollution and has a personal campaign against any source of it.

        • Matthew

          I read somewhere that a 2 stroke scooter pollutes more than a Hummer. (It would actually depend on the what the nature of the pollution is the NOx out of the scooter is probably smaller than a Hummer, but the unburnt hydrocarbons is bigger out of the scooter.)

          Ever go to a city like Bangkok or even a small Thai city like Pitsahnulok? 2 strokes kill clean air? Even in Te Aro in Wellington I have problems with the 2-stroke scooter exhausts.

          As for hypersenstitivity – bullshit. It’s all documented science. Woodsmoke, tobacco smoke, 2-stroke exhausts, diesel exhausts. It’s all carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic. It’s all poison. They all kill people, including in NZ citiesI just think it is common sense to not have cities where the air is poisonous and where the air is fit to breathe. For this I get considered weird???

          It should be government’s role to protect us, by protecting the air. It should encourage us to cycle. It should replace diesel trains with electric trains. It should replace diesel buses with electric buses (or cleaner diesels if it does make sense.) It should be banning tobacco from public areas. It really, really should give a shit about air quality. Am I the only bloody canary down this coal mine?

          • Yes I have spent several weeks in Bangkok actually, and had no problem with it. I certainly noticed the pollution but it didn’t really bother me. The sheer noise of it all was my bigger gripe. I did have a problem in western china, Wuhan was permanently overcast even on cloudless days.

            Matt, you’ve just claimed that you get considered weird, and you’re the “only canary down the coal mine”… but in the same breath say you aren’t hypersensitive? The same guy who has moved house because of fires in winter and didn’t take a job because it was in a big city. That is hypersensitive to atmospheric pollution.

  • Respectfully beg to differ. I’m as far from both the road bike and cycle fashionista sets as you can be, and not particularly fit into the bargain, and I found the incline on the bridge quite suitable in 2009 (ahem). Having something like this in place would actually eliminate one of my main reasons for not wanting to live on the Shore, since it’d allow me to retain my current commuting mode and keep my health slightly more intact than would otherwise be the case…

    Random idea – has anyone considered whether there could be a monthly pass or similar discount on the $2 each way commuter rate, for people who really will use this day in day out?

    • Sorry, that last was directed at Sanctuary’s initial comment – should know better than to try and use this blog with IE…

    • Max

      Hi Sam – once it is in place, and we know actual financial performance of the pathway etc… such things can always be considered. Heck, if it gets really popular, Council could always discuss buying off the rest of the toll period if they become convinced that it would be a good investment. Its getting it over the line now that is important.

  • Duncan

    It looks like an awesome idea, I think it should be tolled for those wanting to walk and take photos etc, but surely those using it for transport for work should be allowed to go on it for free?
    Agreed with lighting on it, it would look awesome and I reckon it’d be a massive hit provided it was created nice and no an eyesore.

  • Matthew

    Will making tourists pay to cross the bridge be a national embarrassment?

    I’ve walked across the Story Bridge in Brisbane, the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco all for nothing. What’s the going rate to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge? H’mm I think they charge a total of zero.

    I’ll be embarrassed for Auckland, and for New Zealand.

    • Well unfortunately we have the option of being embarrassed to pay a small toll to walk across our harbour bridge, or the option of being embarrassed to not be able to walk across it at all.

      • Matthew

        Or the third option, which is the NZTA, and the National government step up to the plate and start funding cycle infrastructure in our cities properly. They spend megabucks on motorways and the RoNS, and Auckland is crying out for this, Wellington is crying out for Petone to Ngauranga, Ch’church wants its cycleways in the rebuild done right, and Dunedin wants its SH1 one ways made safe and the tunnels done for the Mosgiel to Port Chalmers cycleway. Every city in the country could have its cycle infrastructure network, proposed, funded and built within 5 years.

        The opposite of stepping up to the plate, is neglect of a significant part of supposedly integrated transport. Urban cycling has been underfunded for too long. It’s underfunded in terms of the current number of cyclists compared to other modes, and there is a whole lot of pent up demand for when there are safe routes people to use, and then their is induced demand from all the people it hasn’t occurred to who will cycle when they see the safe infrastructure being used.

        Get it started under this government with shithouse tolls if we must, but change the government and drop the tolls. Labour and the Greens should be all over this.

    • Dave West

      New Zealand’s cities are already an embarrassment so to toll/not to toll is unlikely to change the general visitor perception!

    • Well we can just add it to the list of things to be embarrassed about in Auckland. like the general lack of PT and the disgusting traffic sewers that turn what should be beautiful vistas over the harbour into smog filled Frogger games.

  • Duncan

    Either way it’s terrible.
    Especially after spending $14bn on Motorways etc.
    Maybe could push it towards Labour & Greens to do it for free, could be a good election policy for them heh.

  • Daniel

    Will there be a cafe in the middle? It’ll be awesome to be able to get half way across and stop for 10 minutes for a coffee before getting to work. Add 50c to each coffee and this could help towards the costs of the SkyPath.

  • SPT

    As a “noisy middle class” Shore person I was excited to read this, although seeing as I am terrified of heights, I am not sure I would be brave enough to use it. I imagine it would be pretty popular with tourists – the views should be amazing. Is it intended to be enclosed or open? The tolls seem to be a sad fact of life these days – remember that drivers paid a toll to cross the bridge for many, many years.

    • It will be enclosed. I believe the design is to have mostly opaque plastic panels except at the designated viewing areas where there is room to stop and look.

    • Max

      Hi SPT – it is proposed to be partially enclosed (well, technically fully enclosed, but with architectural mesh rather than like a tube or tunnel – some wind & air will be allowed to pass through the mesh so it doesn’t become like a cooking pot in there in summer). Think of Grafton Bridge, very roughly.

  • qwerty

    i think it is a fantastic idea and would be a great way of getting to the city. Hopefully this will tie into a new cycleway running along Westhaven Drive.

    However, paying the $4 i think is a bit daft and it needs to be free. Charging for it, whatever the economic justification, is just another obstacle to people using it. They dont charge for the cycleway along the North Western

    as far as having different costs for commuters, tourists and casuals, how are they going to physically manage it? dividers, signage, turnstyles, ticket offices,websits, staff and other cr@p. They would save a heap of costs just by having a vanilla profile across the bridge, maybe just have a divider to keep cylcists away from peds and that would be it.

  • Ian

    Bugger the tolls. We’re already ripped off for just about everything in NZ. Tourists often complain about how expensive stuff is here and now we’ll have to pay up to walk across a pretty average bridge.

  • Ari

    IIRC the harbour bridge was tolled till after it was paid for. I see no reason why this shouldn’t be tolled until it is also paid off. If Auckland ratepayers/taxpayers are going to be lumped with the necessary CRL, we can hardly expect more to be asked of them. while most support the CRL in theory, most Aucklanders are against rates funding for it, even though it is a very likely avenue. trying to foist the costs of this onto the region will only put people off more important projects like the CRL. Ive lived my whole life in South Auckland and never crossed the bridge until well into my teens. This is not uncommon for many in south Auckland. Special projects like this will make a small, positive, limited and local contribution to Auckland but I see no reason why anyone but actual users should pay for it.

    • Bryce P

      Ari, do you know that there is a suggestion by AC to create a targeted rate, for parts of South Auckland, in order to fund the Pukekohe electrification? Now I think that’s daft, as it will be good for Auckland as a whole and funded as such. I live out west and will most likely never need to use that line but I can see the benefits for Auckland as a whole. I probably will have very limited need to use the Skypath also, however I think that if possible, the Skypath should eventually be treated the same way – once NZTA are allowed to use more than 1% of their total budget on walking and cycling that is. Welcome to the Supercity. Now we just need to embrace the concept and forget about the regional who got what, I’m not paying for that mentality.

      • User pays is a crock. All the roads in this country are built on a ‘good for all basis’ out of property tax, fuel excise, and very low truck use tax. Why is that system so good for roads but not other movement infrastructure? You and I pay for Southland roads we’ll never see and that’s just great. I don’t see why Southlanders can’t contribute a tiny sum (well none actually, but in theory) towards others’ movement systems?

        I do know why in this case; it’s because we currently have the stupidest most ideologically blinded government in living memory (and that’s an achievement).

        • David O

          This post isn’t intended to start a fight – I’m genuinely interested in the answer. Isn’t a big part of the problem with our transport systems that most users don’t pay the actual costs incurred? And that has led to overuse of road-based private vehicle travel. A lot of that subsidy resides in ‘free’ parking, yes, but doesn’t a good part of it also reside in the road taxes and fuel excise duties and taxes not covering the actual cost of road infrastructure?

          So anyway, as a general principle, isn’t there some sort of logic behind user pays? I know, of course that some of the benefit of any piece of infrastructure accrues to everyone because the system ‘just works’, but again, there must be some sort of logic to user pays.

          Of course… this logic would mean charging cars to cross the bridge too, not just cyclists (and god help us) pedestrians.

          • Patrick Reynolds

            Hi David, yes, better pricing consistently applied would be way way better than the current situation. Currently things that aren’t wanted by the grey men in charge are demanded to pay for themselves in a very narrow understanding of that idea. Take the Napier-Gisbourne line, there is no idea of network value or social cost or infrastructure utility in the hatchet job that Kiwi Rail did for their masters on that analysis, yet every rural road is cross subsidised by busy Auckland ones, for the common good.

            The real question is can a perfect or at least much better model including all externalities (can we agree on these?) or is there more efficiency in the way we currently pay for roads now, which is on a ‘good for all’ basis plus attempts at measuring broader economic value through the (flawed?) BCR system. Currently ignored by this gov when it suits them….

            Problem is aren’t all models only as strong as their weakest assumption?

            But my main point above is that the user pays idea is used so inconsistently; largely as away to not fund things that doesn’t suit a particular ideology.

            That not everyone will catch a train to Pukekohe is irrelevant, like I say only small numbers use our rural roads… The locals do, and like the people in Puke I think we, collectively, should provide the necessary infrastructure for them as we all benefit. We do this for roads, there is no economic case for limiting it for one mode. Is there a financial case? Well that’s a different matter, and one of choice and how we structure our systems.

  • Dan

    I think this is fantastic — cycling is my main mode of transport and I’ve wanted to be able to get across to the north shore for years without either catching the ferry or going around the long way. Bevan and co at the get across campaign have come up with this solution which will provide a way and hopefully provide it soon.

    For all those complaining about the tolls and the gradient, realise that this was not going to happen any other way. The gradient is a fact of the current bridge and is far from the steepest hill in Auckland. People will use it. The tolls are annoying but much cheaper than the ferry or bus.

  • Get it built on this model before long a politician will run on removing the tolls, like Muldoon did for the cars…

    Yes it’s nuts to be penalising the carbon free active modes while spending madly on promoting driving but we have to help those in charge through this transitional phase.

    Once it’s there the management of it can be revisited, the tolls are no reason to oppose it.

  • Christopher

    Having heard lots about this proposal, I’m very interested in what really matters; how much it’ll cost. I see that it’ll be $5 if I pay by EFTPOS, and $4 by Hop Card. For me that’s do-able as I would only use it say once a month or so. But it’s hard to tell how much I would use it as the simple fact of the Skypath is that it opens up so much of the Shore to me – would I head that way more often? Probably if there are interesting places to get to. Like Takapuna Beach.

  • conan

    This is great news, and can’t happen soon enough. Maybe next in the sights for cycle and pedestrian access could be the Grafton Road motorway over-bridge. Wouldn’t even be that expensive I would have thought.

    • That is definitely on the agenda conan (I assume you mean the Wellesley St overbridge? Grafton Rd is already open to peds and cyclists), not sure if there are any firm schemes or funding just yet however.

      • conan

        Yep, that’s the one. I always thought it was an extension of Grafton Road (as opposed to Grafton Bridge) but I guess it makes sense for it to be the Wellesly St overbridge. A simple raised footpath on the northern side would be all that is needed. And there is no reasons why it just can’t be opened to cyclists right now.

  • Sanctuary

    I am still skeptical at how realistic it will be that droves of punters will want to tackle the harbour bridge incline twice a day. Why not develop – no laughing! – some sort of cable tow (you, like the ones of ski slopes for snowboarders only adapted to grab your bike wheels) that can pull you to the top in either direction, and charge people $2 a pop to use that if they can’t be bothered peddling up the bridge, otherwise make it free?

  • Max

    Hello Transport Blog admins – could you consider linking the article to Cycle Action Auckland’s call for emails to go out to those Councillors who are on the fence about the project? CAA’s call to action is here:

    http://caa.org.nz/government/auckland-council/auckland-harbour-bridge-pathway-we-have-never-been-closer-to-success/

    • Stranded on the North Shore

      Max, thanks for this link. I’ve now sent email to all three councillors, so that my kids can’t say that I didn’t put the pen to the paper when it mattered the most.

    • Greg N

      Emailled all three, as Stranded says – at least we can say we took a stand about it.
      And I suggest if you live in the wards of these councillors,- ensure that they know that at least one of the vote(s) in their ward/mayoralty campaign later this year will depend on how they vote on this issue.

    • TheBigWheel

      Done!

      Whilst I agree that it is anathema and a national embarrassment to impose user pays tolls on cyclists and pedestrians (but not cars).. at the end of the day we have to get this across the line.

      As well as the recreational benefit that many of us might hope to enjoy from the Skypath, it will surely also make a dent, even a marginal one, in traffic volumes on the top deck. Personally, I expect the getacross forecasts are likely to be substantially exceeded.

  • George D

    NO.

    $14b on free-to-use motorways, and a cyclepath gets tolled.

    If it was a publicly funded project which they intended to toll, then I’d support this. We’d have the option of making it free later. But this locks us in to the expense for decades, or until the company goes bankrupt and we end up paying for it anyway – which is more likely given the history of such PPPs in Australia.

    NO.

    • Max

      Sad to see the “all or nothing” attitude. Tolls can be “bought off” or subsidised later – the sums are small enough that they could easily put in a sweetener for the PIP operator. What you are proposing is simply have no walk/cycle crossing, in reality.

      • George D

        I have a fairly clear impression is that contracts for PPPs are written in such a way as to protect the commercial revenue of the operator, and to exact rather large costs if the model is changed. It might be simple, but it won’t come at a reasonable price. It might not be simple. What is assured is that it will not be simple AND affordable to make the changes you speak of.

        • Dan

          I agree with Max here — there is no public plan in sight for getting this done. NZTA aren’t interested, AC aren’t ever likely to fund it and none of the political parties have come out strongly in favour. So . I’m no fan of PPPs because usually they just provide an alternative financing madel that doesn’t make any sense. But there is no alternative being proposed here. This thing will not happen for many yars, if ever, without this proposal. As someone who would like to cycle to the shore once a week or so, I’d love to see this as soon as possible. It is cheaper than the $11 return I currently pay Fullers to get to Devonport.

          • George D

            This thing can happen as soon as we elect a government who wants it to happen. That’s the alternative.

            You only get one shot at doing this, and if you lock yourselves into 40 years of doing it wrong, you get the wrong outcome – an underutilised and expensive piece of infrastructure with limited application rather than something that can transform this city. Better to wait another 3-5 years and do it properly and right the first time. What’s being proposed here isn’t realism. It’s wrongism.

          • Max

            Hi George, apart from the fact that the contract is for 20 years (not 40, please get the facts right), Council gets 75% of the projected the income, which they can always “re-invest” by lowering the prices if they want to. Sure, that (Council making a profit) only will occur if the numbers reach projected numbers, but the patronage projections now being used have been downscaled a lot, so there’s hope that they are quite conservative.

            Its a shame you don’t think it will work, or be worth it. But I think something useful now is better than something great (maybe) in 20-40 years (maybe).

          • Dan

            George, if it were waiting for 3-5 years, I’d be with you. But I’ve been waiting and intermittently lobbying for 10 years so far (since I’ve lived in Auckland), many have waited and worked much longer. And I can’t see this happening for many more years to come via other methods. Who would pay for it? Why would they pay for it over other projects? Cycling and walking have a pittance of a budget and a big project like this would blow it for a fair while. This is on no-ones agenda as far as I am aware. Do you have other info? “

  • Max

    It is “on the books” but not funded, or designed in any detail. Also look at this blog post:

    http://caa.org.nz/general-news/futureproofing-wellesley-street-east/

  • James Ish

    That’s a great idea.. would the people from the Shore hang from their lycra? ;)

  • M. Lee

    This looks extremely worthwhile. Of course it’s ironic that cyclists and pedestrians would have to pay a toll, while passenger cars don’t, but I suppose we have to take what we can get at this stage.

    Interestingly, the revenue model relies more on “recreational” users than commuters. Maybe this is why, irrespective of other priorities, the council would be reluctant to fully fund it.

  • Definitely a great project. No one can really say it’s fair that walkers and cyclists will have to pay, and the $8 return is expensive, but that’s just how it is for the time being I guess.

  • This project is a winner. It will look great at night, (daytime design could use a tweak though- lil bit Rubik’s Snake/ Jacob’s Ladder ped bridge- and for God’s sake don’t get the panels done overseas!) and be a Link Of National Significance”.

    I hope the Minister of Tourism is an avid supporter…

    A cafe/bar at the top is a great idea, and as Patrick says, someone will run on a “no tolls” banner in the future and it will be dropped as part of a horse trade. Win, win, win. “Organic” the design up a bit and let’s get it built dammit!

    Good work getacross and helpful Councillors…

    • Max

      Shame that a bar may not be possible (loading requirements already limit what can be hung from the ole’ coathanger without NZTA getting grumpy). But the Westhaven Marina and Northcote cafes will be doing a roaring trade in “to go” coffees.

  • correction

    A very exciting project and an essential link. I I’ll add though, it is not free to drive over the bridge as each driver pays a few hundred in dedicated taxes each year. It’s also good to see they have a real price for the project unlike the $3million estimate from a few years ago.

    • Gian

      I pay around 420$ a year for a car rego, 520$ for the bike but if I take the bicycle I’ll still have to pay more? Ok, put a licensing fee on bicycles as well, but then I want them treated as equal.
      Actually, why not a fee on pedestrian’s shoes? It’s not fair that they get the footpath for free

      • correction

        Well I guess you can still ride your bike on the other 99% of roads that don’t have such a safety restriction. For footpaths, these are paid for through rates. Also of note is that the harbour bridge did have tolls.

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