IT IS POSSIBLE TO WALK THE HARBOUR BRIDGE ON A REGULAR BASIS!!
Updated 20th December, 2009
Many People and organisations have over the years called for access for pedestrians and cyclists to the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Ideally this should be on a permanent year round basis however in the interim there is a way in which access can be provided on a regular basis at no cost to ratepayers or taxpayers.
The basic requirements are
(a) Every Aucklander should have the opportunity to experience the walk and savour the fabulous views of Auckland obtainable from the Harbour Bridge.
(b) Every tourist, whether domestic or international, should also be able to participate in what would quickly become a major tourist attraction and reason for staying longer in Auckland
The solution is to block off the 2 eastern clip on lanes of the Harbour Bridge from just north of where the eastern lanes diverge from the centre lanes on the northern side of the Bridge to Shelley Beach Rd on the southern side from 6am to 1pm on the first sunday of each month year round.
** Pedestrian access to the bridge would be from 7am to 11.30am with all pedestrians off the bridge by 12.30pm. The eastern clipons would reopen to traffic at 1pm.
** A fee of $10 per adult (maximum of 1 child per adult free) will be charged. $5 of this will go to the operator of the Bridge walk to pay for its operation which will include a shuttle service every 5 minutes from 6.30am to 1pm between Lower Albert St and the Harbour Bridge control centre at Stafford Road. The other $5 will go a different charity each sunday who would be required to provide 20 volunteers to assist with ticket collection, people management, etc.
** Numbers will be limited to a maximum of 5,000 adults (or paid children) per hour, plus maximum of 1 child free. Consequently the maximum on the bridge at any one time would be 10,000 although it is expected to be closer to 7-8 thousand. Consequently absolutely no stress will be caused to the bridge. Walkers will prepay and prebook a given hour within which they must enter the bridge or forfeit the ticket. (Last access at 11am for half an hour only). Numbers on the first walk (or permanently) could be limited to 3,000 per hour. Under the longer hours 25,000 paying adults per open day (300,000 per annum) will be able to enjoy the bridge along with dependent children.
** A limited number of food and beverage outlets will be able to operate at the top of the bridge and each end. All such outlets would be off the bridge, along with rubbish, 30 minutes prior to reopening.
** Entertainment such as bands, face painters, clowns etc will be encouraged for a great day out!
** Parking restrictions will be in place on Shelley Beach and surrounding streets on the south side and Stafford Road and surrounding streets on the north side and every effort made to minimise inconvenience to local residents.
There will still be 6 lanes left for vehicular traffic and the bridge would be re-opened in time to cater for the sunday afternoon 'rush hour' back from the northern beaches.
The only capital expenditure required prior to commencement is a gate from the clip on lanes northern end to the current waterfront path. Pedestrians would have the option of walking south and under the motorway to Sulphur Beach Rd with easy access to Northcote Point ferry terminal, or north and under the motorway to Stafford Road by the Bridge control centre and shuttle buses to and from lower Albert St.
A 'sunday market' could be encouraged on vacant land and Stafford Park for North Shore entrepreneurs!
Shelley Beach Rd would be blocked off from Sarsfield St (apart from residents vehicles). Pedestrian access and egress is then available up and down Shelley Beach Rd to and from Jervois Rd and would be encouraged to use the Westhaven feeder road. Shuttle buses would stop on Fanshawe St by Victoria Park.
There are no valid reasons why the bridge cannot be opened as suggested above EXCEPT the intransigence of The Transport Agency and the unwillingness of Steven Joyce and John Key to force the issue.
THEY HAVE HAD OVER ONE YEAR TO CONSIDER IT
It would take a maximum of 4 weeks to implement and if given the go ahead by the 30th April 2010, our first walk could be on the 2nd May
A response to the Dialogue article written by Geoff Dangerfield of The Transport Agency and published in the New Zealand Herald on 11th May, 2009
I am disappointed, but not surprised, to see the reasons provided by Geoff Dangerfield of the Transport Agency (Herald 11 May) for refusing to allow Aucklanders access to their Harbour Bridge for a birthday walk. While his arguments in relation to a one off event are valid there are vastly better solutions to give Aucklanders, and our visitors, access to the Bridge on a regular basis.
Regular access can be provided simply and economically by closing the two eastern clipon lanes to traffic and open them for pedestrians from 9am to 3pm on the first sunday of every month for a trial period of one year.
By offering access on a regular basis over an extended period the issues of overcrowding for a one off event are eliminated. Instead of the estimated 300,000 people trying to take advantage of a one day event the load will be spread throughout the year. Spread over 12 openings this would mean an average of 25,000 per day or around 4,166 per hour. These numbers are totally practical to handle and will not cause any stress to the bridge.
The only capital expenditure required is for gate access on the northern side of the bridge to the seaward side footpath. I am sure a sponsor could be found for this if necessary. This footpath needs no upgrading and has two underpasses under the motorway, one leading to the Northcote Point ferry terminal, and one to the Harbour Bridge control centre from which regular self funding shuttles to and from the city can be provided. It is also an easy walk to Onewa Road buses.
Shuttles can operate between the Shelley Bay Rd/Sarsfield St intersection to downtown. Pedestrian access at this end will also be available via the on ramp from Westhaven Marina which would also be blocked off during the period of the bridge opening. This provides easy walking to downtown.
The only operating expenditure will be the requirement for staff to block the eastern clipon access lanes at the northern end of the bridge and Shelley Bay Rd at Sarsfield Street at around 7am and remove the barriers at 3pm, move the mobile barrier in the centre lanes to provide 3 traffic lanes each way during the pedestrian opening period, and for security and safety wardens on the day. Twenty staff should be more than sufficient. Total cost per day should be no more than $10,000.
Most, if not all, of the cost can be recouped by leasing space for food and beverage outlets at the top and each end of the eastern clipons. These outlets would be set up between 8am and 9am and would have last sales at 2.15pm and be cleared off the bridge along with all rubbish by 2.45pm. Portable seating and an ultimate open air café/food court at the top of the bridge would be a fabulous attraction. Public access to the bridge would be from 9am to 1.30pm only with all persons off the bridge by 2.30pm. The nominal costs involved could be underwritten half each by North Shore City Council and Auckland City Council if necessary.
A better alternative to ensure crowd management and to serve a worthy cause would be to charge a $5 per adult fee (under 16 free). A different charity would be sponsored each month with say $2 of the admission fee going to the Transport Agency or organiser of the Bridge Walk and the balance to the charity. Tickets could be bought on line, at specified outlets, or on the day. The sponsored charity would be required to provide volunteers to collect tickets. The public could choose the month they cross by the charity they wish to support and tourists will be delighted to think that part of their fee is serving a worthy cause. Initially numbers would be limited to 25,000 adults per day with access limited to 5,000 per hour and a maximum of 90 minutes on the bridge. Together with children that should mean no more than 10,000 on the bridge at any given time and is totally manageable. Walkers would choose the hour they wish to enter the bridge between 9am and 1.30pm at the time of purchasing tickets. Tickets will be forfeited if not presented during that time.
Some inconvenience would be experienced during the walking period by travellers from North Shore who would normally use the Shelley Beach Rd off ramp. They would instead have to use Fanshawe or Cook St exits however it is not a big detour to get back to Herne Bay or Ponsonby. The advantages to Auckland City are huge and far outweigh the minor inconvenience experienced during this period. The Bridge will be fully functioning again by 3pm in time to cater for the summer peak hour back from the Northern Beaches.
Bridge walks are highly popular around the world. Opening the Bridge on a regular basis like this will make a major contribution to the economy of Auckland by encouraging more tourists (both international and domestic) to come, and to stay longer in Auckland. There are some people who will travel to Auckland specifically to do the Bridge walk and many thousands more who will time their travels in New Zealand to co-incide with the Bridge opening. In most cases this will mean an extra night in Auckland which will benefit our accommodation, restaurant, and sightseeing operators, as well as the shops. It will be an extra exciting and economical attraction for Tourism New Zealand and Tourism Auckland to promote overseas.
The best solution is of course a permanent walkway/cycleway available to people year round. One has been designed running from Westhaven to Northcote point under the eastern clipons which would cost around $6 million and take around 6 months to build.
Mr Dangerfield I challenge you to reconsider your decision and enable the people of Auckland, and our visitors, to experience the beauty of the harbour, spectacular city views, and the thrill of the walk for themselves. If you are not interested in organising this yourself at least make the eastern clipons available and I am sure private enterprise can organise a very effective operation. There is no reason why the initial regular access programme could not commence on the 5th July this year. All it needs is your willingness.
Auckland Transport Consultancy