NZTA could make one lane of Harbour Bridge a cycling lane
As focus on how to make Auckland City more friendly to pedestrians and cyclists continues, the Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency has confirmed that it’s investigating converting one lane of Auckland’s Harbour Bridge into a cycling lane.
The news comes off the back of protests from cyclists over the weekend, unhappy with the government’s lack of updates and growing time frame surrounding its ‘Skypath’ plans. The protest ended with a large group of cyclists breaching a police cordon and cycling along the Harbour Bridge.
Speaking to Checkpoint, Brett Gliddon of Waka Kotahi said he backed the protestors’ cause, although not necessarily the action of crossing the bridge itself.
“I had no issue whatsoever with their cause. We're committed to walking and cycling as well, and I think it's fantastic that they got such a great turn out, because it's a really important issue for New Zealand and Auckland,” Gliddon said.
“When it comes to getting onto the bridge I guess I had a few more concerns, and that was simply around the health and safety for everyone involved. Not just the walkers and cyclists that were on the bridge, but the motorists and our staff who had to lay out the closure to close down the lanes.”
Gliddon added that one of the main challenges of a cycling lane across the bridge is safety. The current barriers on the side of the bridge aren’t adequate protection for vulnerable road users, he said.
“As far as providing access to walkers and cyclists on lanes of the bridge. We are doing work on that. However, it's not as straightforward as everyone seems to think it is. There are a few challenges.
“The main things we're looking at is the health and safety. You've got to be able to provide a safe environment. The barriers on the side of the bridge, they are not compliant for walking and cycling. They're not high enough. They're not suitable, if someone happened to fall off, they could potentially go over the edge.”
Gliddon also touched on whether a cycle lane on the Harbour Bridge would hamper traffic, which he concedes is likely.
“At the moment the bridge isn't the bottleneck on the network, but if you reduce it from eight lanes to six, and it's such a strategic part of the network, it will have an impact,” he added.
“It will impact other parts of the network, and we saw that last year when we had the lanes out on the bridge with the incident [when a truck hit part of the bridge structure]. It had a big impact across the western ring route, right down into the south.
“We've got some modelling, but we need to do more to fully understand the potential impacts. We're looking at options now around how you can do it, but we're not going to be able to make a decision until we're comfortable that we can mitigate all the potential risks.”