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Skypath to move a step closer this week

News has been fairly quiet on SkyPath for some time however that appears set to change with news that the resource consent for the project is due to be lodged tomorrow.

Auckland’s SkyPath is a step closer to construction but its chief planner admits the project is battling funding hurdles, complaints from residents and a lack of political support.

Resource consents for the shared walkway/cycleway attached to the side of the Harbour Bridge are due to be lodged next week, following more than 10 years of planning.

The SkyPath could open as early as 2016 but it would come at a cost, with entrance fees of at least $3.50 each way or $2 each way with a Hop card.

Project director Bevan Woodward said he was optimistic the latest designs would be approved but was realistic about the potential for difficulties and delays.

”With everything involved in this, it has taken longer than expected,” he said.

New Skypath Design

Resource consent represents a major advance for the project but one that will see serious opposition, particularly from a vocal minority that live in Northcote Point.

But not all have shared his optimism for the project, with several disgruntled residents arguing too many people would be parking near their homes and that users might display anti-social behaviour.

Woodward said he had looked to counter those fears by employing two security guards, and said consultations had worked with Northcote Point residents to find the best solution.

The Northcote Residents’ Association said it had major concerns about the SkyPath but was ”not in a position to make any public statement about the project”.

North Shore ward councillor George Wood has stated he was publicly opposed to the SkyPath, but fellow North Shore councillor Chris Darby said feedback he received from residents showed a ”phenomenal level of support”.

Darby said the SkyPath was 55 years overdue and would follow through on the original plan for the bridge, which, before its 1959 build, included designs for a rail line and a 2-metre walkway, similar to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

”I’m optimistic that this is a project whose time has come,” he said.

”I would suggest there’s a minority concern. But all the surveys I’ve seen for Auckland city-side residents and North Shore residents are in favour of it.”

Also now seemingly tied in with SkyPath is Auckland Transports proposal to improve cycling routes from Northcote all the way through to Smales Farm which has brought government minister Jonathan Coleman into the debate complaining about parking. Both Coleman and Wood have now setup a meeting for tonight on Northcote cycle improvements in a bid to fire up locals against the project. If you live in the area and support both SkyPath and the improved cycling infrastructure in the area I would urge you to go along and make your voice heard

Coleman-Wood Meeting notice

Coleman-Wood Meeting notice 2

The comment that there is no such thing as a residents parking zone is a bit comical and perhaps they should ask the residents just over the St Marys bay about that. Speaking of comical, George Wood has also created this video about both projects featuring highlights such as:

  • Suggesting a concrete is historic which can’t have its layout changed.
  • Suggesting a concrete road is an icon of Auckland
  • Saying parking is at a premium due to the historic nature of the area in which residents don’t have off street parking followed by a shots of houses, all of which have off street parking and in which there is still plenty of on street parking available.
  • On street parking being used to park a boat
  • The owner of the Northcote Tavern not supporting cycling improvements as he fears locals won’t be able to drive to have a drink – again notice plenty of on street parking not occupied.
  • A shot looking towards the bridge again with heaps of available on street parking.
  • George talking to a supposedly NIMBY cat
  • Scaremongering that the SkyPath will be too heavy for the bridge.

As far as I’m aware George is the only councillor who has opposedSkyPath to date which is odd considering how many of his constituents both at Northcote Point and in other areas of the North Shore would benefit from the project.

There have also been some new details starting to emerge with these two documents uploaded to Scribd. by George showing what appears to be some new images of the project.

 

While this one is the result of a research report into the potential patronage of SkyPath. From memory one of the reasons for this report was that some locals didn’t believe the previous ones completed were correct. The report says the outcome is very similar to the previous studies done which is basically that a lot of people will use SkyPath and that most would access the bridge by cycling to it, not driving like some residents like to suggest.

I’m looking forward to seeing more detail about the project when the resource consent is announced.

Of course even once constructed there is on issue about the project that is likely to be debated for some time to come and that’s the fee to access the path. The Auckland Harbour Bridge will probably be the only place in the world where cyclists pay to cross while cars can do so for free. Sadly even with a change of government that position might not change.

Eventually, he was hoping that once the SkyPath was up-and-running, a future transport minister might decide to allocate $33m to buy out the project, removing the need for tolls.

A spokesman for Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said that remained a hypothetical question that the minister couldn’t answer, while Labour’s transport spokesman Phil Twyford said ”it seems like the organisers have put together a PPP that could work and I don’t see any need to interfere with that”.

Dealing with whether we should be paying a fee to cross the bridge is something for a future discussion though and not something I’d want holding up the construction of one of Auckland’s most important projects.

43 comments to Skypath to move a step closer this week

  • Gary Young

    Not sure I understand why this would lead to increased parking problems in Northcote. Surely the majority of tourists and sightseers wanting to stroll across for the view would be accessing the bridge from the city end? Why would anyone drive over to Northcote to park in order to walk back?

    Also wonder about the business acumen of the owner of Northcote Tavern. Anyone with half an ounce of sense would be heavily advertising the availability of refreshments only another couple of minutes walk away after crossing the bridge.

    • Sailor Boy

      Exactly, and now I personally will make certain that until it changes ownership that I never patronise his establishment.

      • Glen

        Agreed. BTW don’t the liquor licensing regulations encourage responsible consumption of alcohol, including avoiding drink-driving? It sounds like a pub owner here is encouraging drink-driving. Surely he should be instead encouraging people to walk to his pub and then walk home…?

      • +1. Might one day even pop in to tell the owner that much myself!

  • Fred

    The business owners in the area must have rocks in their heads if they oppose SkyPath. It’s going to be the best thing ever for them by bringing so many more people to the area.

    What a great walk for tourists staying in the city and of course they’ll need lunch before heading back.

  • Chris O

    For what it’s worth, the Greens say they will fully fund the SkyPath in their transport strategy document.

  • OrangeKiwi

    According to George Wood ferry passengers are down, there’s only two buses a day, the local dairy closed down many years ago, a concrete road from the 20s is one of the highlights in the area, a poplar-lined street with roaring vehicles polluting the air and its view is the other, and there’s a lack of facilities. Definitely sounds like an area that can do without investment. As for the proprietor of the tavern; his concern is for people not being able to drink and drive? If you would’ve told me this video were satire, I would’ve believed you.

  • Luke E

    Loving the dramatic music at the end of Cr Wood’s video. Can’t decide if that or his interview with the cat is the highlight…

    • Lindsay

      Unfortunately George has his wires crossed on a number of key points. There are in fact two bus ROUTES that connect with the ferry that have regular trips down to the wharf. There is a thriving dairy at the other end of Queen Street and the Tavern is a wonderful Local. Ferry patronage always sees a slight dip In passenger numbers during the winter so that’s not an indication of waning patronage, and the trees in Alma Strert are London Plane trees, not Lombardy poplars.

  • wayne

    I agree most tourists and locals south of the bridge will start at the city end and probably only walk to the middle, turn around and go back. some will go to the end and then turn back. I also think most will start from Wynard and go along the new walkway through westhaven.

  • This is the Active mode equivalent of the CRL. It will bring such a profound improvement that most will struggle to even remember what on earth the opposition to it was about.

    As old George has shown above it is already comically nonsensical. And largely just based on a fearful inability to imagine change and therefore understand its value.

    The stick-in-the-muds will remain irrelevantly stuck in the mud.

  • Frank McRae

    I often finish a group bike ride at Northcote tavern for a meal and drinks. After the owners comments I won’t be doing that any more.

    • Warren S

      Frank – go once more to the Tavern, ask for the owner or boss man and tell that you will bring all your biking friends for lunch when when Skypath opens. It really would be worth while trying “real” dialogue with the guy

  • Anthony McBride

    Make sure to dislike and write negative comments in the video.

  • Glen

    Slightly off-topic, but notice how the National Government can find an MP to appear at this NIMBY-driven meeting opposing a single project, but can’t yet find someone to appear at a debate discussing transport policy in general that affects all New Zealanders? Odd to say the least.

    • TimR

      Someone should tell George that the government likes these schemes so much it is finding $100M out of the pork barrel find for them (see Bevans link). Better still, could they put $100m towards Skypath and still have money left over…?

      • TimR

        Typo: -part- of the $100M.

        Still: seeing National target the cycling lobby for buying off with the park barrel fund is pretty significant. Slow, but I sense a turning tide here.

  • I live in Northcote Point and I am very excited about the prospect of the Skypath. There are options where all needs can be met. However those options will require collaborative planning between central and local government A Seapath between Takapuna and Northcote Point connecting at Esmonde Road bus station and Northcote at the tunnel beside the Police station would minimize impact on the Point. We could be framing our thinking as an opportunity for
    A BETTER BLOCK angled parking and tree planting alongside cycle ways acts as traffic calming. I can envision a plaza atmosphere with well landscaped areas below the bridge security and a village atmosphere lets try creating something special build collaborative networks and get our Prime Minister involved after all he promised us a national cycleway and there is one big missing link…it’s time for John Key to step up and help support a low impact outcome we don’t have the money to attend his dinner but we can all afford a bike! Can John Key negotiate a creative outcome to get us over the bridge…he did it with Sky city now what about an integrated sea and skypath???????
    Take a look at the better block website it will inspire you for an integrated outcome Gaye G

  • SteveS

    There are two independent projects planned here – the Northcote Safe Cycle Route (NSCR) and SkyPath. AT’s NSCR stands on its own merits, and offers a 5.2km safe cycling route from Northcote Point to Smales Farm in Takapuna. The issues here are primarily around loss of some on-street parking at Northcote Point – even George Wood thinks the northern end of the route is a good idea. I’ve been patiently engaging with George and his supporters on his public FB page, suggesting they make a submission to AT if they will suffer hardship (not just inconvenience) through the loss of on-street parking. While most homes in Northcote Point have adequate garaging and off-street parking, there are a small number that don’t. This is simple to resolve – there’s already a Resident Parking scheme on Queen St just south of the Bridgeway Theatre to acknowledge that some heritage houses were built without off-street parking. It’s simple to extend this concept.

    Unfortunately there’s a small number of vocal residents for whom any sort of cycling infrastructure is complete anathema, coming up with all sorts of spurious reasons to condemn the initiative. Have a look at George’s FB if you want a laugh. What’s sad is that two of our elected representatives (George and Jonathan Coleman) are siding with this ill-informed minority. We deserve better from them.

    And then there’s SkyPath – the jewel in the crown of the Auckland walking and cycling network. The travesty 60 years ago was that walking, cycling and rail were removed from the design in favour of vehicle-only lanes. The travesty now is that the Government/NZTA are not funding SkyPath, leaving it up to a hard-working bunch of enthusiasts to get it to where it is now, and then for the path to be tolled when it’s built.

    And the same vocal Northcote Point minority are out in force again. Their parking and privacy concerns can be easily addressed by intelligent design and restrictions, but most importantly by having safe and efficient routes (SeaPath, NSCR, ferry access, PT availability) so people don’t want or need to drive to the SkyPath touchdown point. So logically you’d think they’d be all in favour of the NSCR. Sadly no.

    In any significant project there will always be some stakeholders resistant to change, or who will be adversely affected. But when it comes down to it, the community benefit of both projects is huge. Both should proceed while reasonable steps are taken to mitigate the impact on the small number of people who will be genuinely disadvantaged..

  • Steve N

    Give me strength…

    “We’re going to lose all this parking!” cries George. Umm, you’re standing on a broken yellow line George, which seems to run quite a long way . Why don’t we put the bike lane on that side, eh?

    “There’s no off street parking for residents”. Next scene clearly shows house with carport, and in the background a car leaving the driveway of the next house next door.

    “Historic concrete road has heritage value”. Really? I can think of a few other concrete roads around (Mt Eden Road, Dominion Road, Mt Wellington Highway) where “heritage values” don’t seem to be a factor. It’s already got painted lines on it. How does a painting a bike line impinge on those values?

    And PS it’s wide enough to land a jumbo jet on it. Even if we take a bit for a bike line, there’s still plenty of room for the poor residents, drunk drivers to park etc.

    And PPS if there are bike lines all the way to Takapuna, maybe people will actually BIKE there instead of taking their cars – which is kind of the point….

  • Simon

    This is unbelievable. I’ve had to watch more than once just for the comedy gold of the heritage concrete road. And then the Gov takes the wind out of George’s sails with 100 million for cycling. There’s nothing like coming down on the complete wrong side of an issue but sticking it out anyway.

    • Pete G

      The Nats $100M is very welcome but you think the NZTA would have a nice lot of cycle projects that can be just rolled out? Someone must have planned routes that will be ready to roll (or roads to have diets) that you could have some quick wins not swallowed up by consultants?

  • Chris O

    Bryce, Luke and I all made it to the Wharf for the meeting. The venue was pretty packed, and the vocal members of the crowd all seemed to be against the NCSR and Skypath. There were three speakers plus Jonathan Coleman. First speaker Briar talked about the impact the loss of parking who would have on the area, plus the fact that Queen Street is safe, never used by cyclists and doesn’t have accidents. Second speaker talked about reserves getting turned into parking to replace parking lost from Queen Street (some fear mongering about Stafford Park been paved to create parking for Seapath). Third speaker Kevin said the only justification for the cycleway was the traffic that might be created by Skypath, and Skypath’s user projections would ultimately lead to total gridlock in Northcote Point. Jonathan Coleman came across as the voice of reason in comparison – some parts of the project good, some bad, loss of parking in Northcote Point unacceptable, write a submission.

    I had a detailed look at the maps after the meeting, and the loss of parking seems entirely limited to Northcote Point. One side of Queen Street from the ferry turnoff to Onewa Road would lose parking, with some parking lost in places on the other side as well. Given the width of Queen Street I’m pretty sure a compromise could be found which kept the parking – for instance replacing the two one-directonal bike paths on either side of the road with a bi-directional New York style bike lane on one side, Not that anyone seemed to be lobbying hard for compromise solutions as opposed to stopping the project completely.

    • Gaye.G

      Yep pretty much it’s a shame such binary arguments when there are so many possibilities for creative integrated planning?I could not attend the meeting, the angst is palpable yet the options are exciting … I imagine Citzens of Christchurch would find the Wood video pretty trivial!

  • Stranded on the North Shore

    I can’t wait for Skypath. But I’ll have a bigger dilemma then… I will have to change my nickname!

  • Jim

    I am a Northcote Point resident, not a cyclist and will probably only use SkyPath occasionally. In principal I am a keen supporter. It is very unfortunate that the NRA have created such a negative environment surrounding this project, as most residents are very happy to have it and can see the bigger picture. Scaremongering by the NRA skypath subcommittee is only serving to create a divide rather than a solution. Issues like the Cycleway (which will be a pain for local residents and given Queen St is such a wide road probably is not even needed) are not easily nor productively debated because of the negative and dismissive attitudes of the NRA executive. If the SkyPath and SeaPath can be linked, then the impact on the Point will be mitigated and the NRA squeaky wheels can be silenced. It can’t happen soon enough as far as the majority of residents are concerned.

    • Gaye.G

      Hooray for Jim it’s quite brave when you live here to speak your mind when in favour given the Mercedes driving dominant voices on the exec saw one drive arrogantly on the wrong side of the road to the dairy while I was in the long Queen st. Traffic que on Friday morning wondered if he gave a toss about anyone other than self?

  • SDW

    Everyone just make sure to make a submission (and request to be heard) in support of the SkyPath once its notified. There is a good argument for strength in numbers re planning hearings and if you present your submission in person in front of a hearings panel (and focus on facts rather than emotive elements of the project) you often lend more weight to your support.

  • Henry

    Some great comments above which I don’t need to add to. Here’s one further irony from the video. George waxes lyrically about the wonderful character of Northcote Pt, but he appears not to notice an eight lane motorway running through the middle of it. If the character of Northcote Pt can survive this (and everything would suggest that it has) I’m sure it can also survive the Skypath.

  • Sailor Boy

    500 cars parked across St Mary’s Bay, Northcote, Westhaven, all of the city centre carparking buildings, Wynyard, and Takapuna? Seems entirely manageable to me. Now crawl back under your bridge Phil.

  • You still don’t get the absurdity of opposing a walking and cycling project because of the negative effects of driving and parking do you?

    Where driving and parking causes problems; restrict and regulate driving and parking. And encourage and incentivise alternatives.

    And what is this curious obsession with having to put a bike on a vehicle before it can be ridden. Stop opposing good cycling routes to the bridge and it’ll never need to happen. It’s a urban route not a velodrome.

  • Mike C

    Sailor Boy, I don’t think comments such a “crawl back under your bridge” are very useful.

    Northcote Residents, who says that all of these people will be parking at the Northcote end? Of the leisure seekers, I’d imagine most would park at the city end as way less than half of Auckland’s population lives at the north of the bridge and only of a small fraction of tourists stay to the north.

    Please remember that on-street parking is not a right for residents. Residents do not own the patch of road in front of their house. Streets are owned equally by the whole city. However, I’m sure if parking does become a big issue then Council will introduce a residents’ parking scheme of some sort. This is already happens in St Mary’s Bay, Eden Park, the inner city in Auckland and is used extensively around Wellington’s inner suburbs where park and ride would otherwise be an issue.

    The Skypath will be a huge benefit for Northcote point residents – imagine being able to walk or cycle into the city without having to deal with traffic. It should have happened when the bridge was built in the first place; it’s a scandal that it didn’t. I for one look forward to using it, and no, I won’t be driving there!

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