Cyclists need shuttle over Auckland harbour bridge

Cyclists should be able to safely cross the Auckland harbour bridge, says the car review website

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is a road safety campaigner and advocate for cyclists’ and pedestrians’ rights, believes cycling over the existing bridge would be very dangerous in bad weather.

“In stormy weather, the winds on the top of the bridge have been strong enough to blow a fully laden truck over. I’ve driven across the bridge many times during gusty winds. It feels really scary even in a closed car; on a really stormy day a bike and its rider would be thrown around like a ball.”

“What’s needed is a protected cycle lane, probably under the bridge. But this would cost hundreds of millions and take years. A second harbour crossing will almost certainly have a dedicated cycle lane, but that’s probably a decade away.”

“Cyclists could be using the bridge in three month’s time if a reliable shuttle service was launched. All it would need is a minivan towing a bike trailer, crossing back and forth across the bridge all day. The total cost would be tiny fraction of the cost of building a dedicated cycling bridge."

“The ferries that are constantly crossing the harbour also need to become a lot more bike-friendly. 53 cyclists have been turned away from ferries in the last four weeks.

“And, Auckland Transport still hasn’t explained why bikes are not permitted on most buses.“

Matthew-Wilson believes that, under present circumstances, a cycle lane on the bridge itself would be massively disruptive to both private and public transport.

“The Auckland harbour bridge is already close to full capacity. Even Sunday’s protest ride on the bridge caused an immediate backlog of traffic stretching many kilometres.”

“I’m sure that there are cyclists who would love to cause massive disruption on the harbour bridge, but the flow-on effects of this disruption are inevitably felt by all commuters, not just those in cars. There is no rail link across Auckland harbour, so many commuters rely on buses that use the harbour bridge.”

“Last year, when part of the bridge was closed for repairs after a truck was blown over, average journey times increased by about five times. That meant bus commuters, as well as people in cars, had an unreasonably long journey to and from work.”

“It’s easy to blame motorists for using cars in place of bikes or public transport, but the average public transport trip in Auckland is about three times slower than the same trip by car. By bike, many trips would be even longer. What is needed is a public transport system that is faster than cars and which safely carries both bikes and their riders to the end of the journey.”