Sunday 13 December 2009

Cycling over Auckland Harbour Bridge

I lived in New Zealand from 1974 until 1981, my family returning to the UK when I was 15.

I crossed the Auckland Harbour Bridge on many occasions - but always by car. The original plans for the bridge were to have included paths for pedestrians, but these were dropped as an austerity move. It is still not possible to cross this bridge either by bike or on foot.

Bridges ought to provide a link for cyclists. However, in this case it's a barrier. The detour by road to cross the harbour is about 40 km in length.

There is now a campaign,, trying to get permanent access to this bridge, as the detour by road is a considerable distance. Auckland cyclists have said they are willing to pay a toll to cross the bridge - even though drivers do not currently pay a toll.

The main span of Auckland Harbour Bridge is 243 m - just 8 metres longer than the main span of a bridge for cyclists in Nijmegen in the Netherlands that I covered a few weeks back. That bridge, like all I've seen for cyclists in the Netherlands, is free of charge.

The Auckland harbour bridge also appears in Google Street View

In New Zealand, like all English speaking countries, only around 1% of journeys are by bike. If you want to know why this is, read other blog posts about cycling in New Zealand. There are also several other blog posts about bridges for cyclists as well as about tunnels, which often work better for cyclists than bridges.


Kevin Love said...

This reminds me of Toronto's Prince Edward Viaduct. Except that the PEV has bike lanes.

At the time it was built, the PEV included a very expensive and controversial lower deck to accomodate a future subway. This was a wise and foresighted move, for millions of dollars were saved when no major structural changes were later required to extend the subway across the bridge.

Kevin Love said...

I should give my source for previous post on the Prince Edward Viaduct. It is Wikipedia at:

Is the Auckland Harbour bridge a suicide magnet the way the PEV was before the suicide barrier went up?

Andy in Germany said...

how these 'Austerity' mves don't say, close the road or make it narrower.

jayjay said...

Great video - I was able to cycle up the bridge on the day 'Get Across' planned earlier this year. I watch that site closely for updates on plans to let us across - which I believe is meant to happen, sooner rather than later. They are looking now at tucking a cycleway in under the bridge I think. And yes, Kevin, the bridge has been a suicide magnet.

Chris said...

Great post - thanks.

I walked over the bridge on that day - it was fantastic to be able to do so. There were around 10,000 people who walked/cycled across.

I don't believe that the Harbour Bridge is a suicide magnet. There's no footpath onto the bridge so you must drive onto it. Then once on, you can't pull over and stop anywhere. If you did you would get the aggressive behaviour from other drivers which is enough to keep you moving on... and while there have been jumps from the bridge, the jumpers haven't alway died as the height isn't sufficient enough.

Grafton Bridge on the other hand... I think the last straw for the authorities was when a young woman killed herself, landing unfortunately on the motorway off ramp below much to the horror of an approaching driver. Since the barriers went up nobody has tried as it is very difficult.

Matt said...

That song should be on TV1 one morning in the minutes before Paul Henry interviews John Key, without either of them knowing it's going to be on.

And the cars should pay a toll to build the bikeway.

Unknown said...

Damn straight, Matt. Driving a car in NZ is way too cheap and doesn't cover the social cost that we all pay for this mode of transport. In reality, this apparent clean, green country is high on petrol fumes. And Paul Henry is still not over the fact that motorists were inconvenienced by the bridge crossing in May 09.

Great blog, by the way, David.