Cycling On The Harbour Bridge – The Electric Era

The Auckland Harbour Bridge is an eight-lane motorway bridge over the Waitemata Harbour. It is part of the Auckland Northern Motorway. The bridge is operated by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA). It is the second-longest road bridge in New Zealand, and the longest in the North Island.
It is 1,020 m long, with a main span of 243.8 m, rising 43.27 m above high water allowing ships access to the deepwater wharf at the Chelsea Sugar Refinery.

While often considered an Auckland icon there has been criticism. Many see the construction of the bridge without walking, cycling and rail facilities as a big oversight.

On Sunday, 24 May 2009, thousands of people crossed the bridge as a part of a protest by GetAcross against the bridge not providing walking and cycling access, and against what the group perceives to be the authorities’ negative and obstructionist attitude towards such access. A crossing either as part of the protest or as part of the official 50-year anniversary celebrations had been forbidden by NZTA because of the costs and traffic difficulties claimed for a managed crossing. However, after several speeches, including by Auckland Regional Council Chairman Mike Lee, several people made their way around the police cordon onto the bridge. At that stage police closed the northbound lanes to traffic, bringing State Highway 1 to a stop. The remainder of the protesters moving onto the bridge, which was not resisted any more by the police. No accidents, violence or arrests were reported, and protesters left the bridge approximately an hour later, many having crossed to the North Shore and back.

The protest created a wide spectrum of responses in the media and in public perception, from being labelled a dangerous stunt representative of an increasingly lawless, anarchic society to being considered a successful signal to authorities to give more weight to the demands and the public backing of the walk and cycleway proponents. Authorities noted that they were investigating whether any of the protesters would face fines or charges. NZTA representatives noted that they were disappointed at what they considered the broken word of the organisers of the protest, and remarked that it would take 30 more years before walking and cycling could likely be provided.NZTA were criticised as having brought the situation at least partly onto themselves by choosing the easy route of forbidding the protest crossing. Several political protest marches (especially hikois) had been allowed to cross the bridge.