Some four thousand cyclists and walkers today crossed the Auckland Harbour Bridge as part of the GetAcross campaign.
CAN congratulates the GetAcross team for their success in pressuring NZTA and so facilitating access to the Bridge for the huge crowd on the 50th Anniversary of the Bridge's opening. Happy Birthday, Auckland Harbour Bridge!
The rally began with speeches held at the southern end of the Bridge from 9am. By 9:30am the crowd was restless and started to drift towards the motorway onramp at the base of Curran Street. These were blocked by barriers and a small numer of Police. Around that time a small group of racing cyclists appeared on the Bridge and rode up the left-hand lane to the huge applause of the crowd.
Photo/ Glenn Jeffries, NZ Herald
After some twenty minutes of 'negotiation' (they just said 'no') with NZTA representatives, a single walker 'forced' (walked through Police) his way onto the Bridge (you can see him in the distance in the photo above). At this point there were more media on the on-ramp that protesters.
A few minutes later, a small number of walkers and cyclists also 'forced' their way through. Police were 'powerless' (they didn't try very hard) to stop the thousands more that joined them. In any event, thousands of people simply cycled and walked unhindered onto the Bridge.
For some reason, these thousands were then directed onto the central lanes of the Bridge, effectively blocking all northbound lanes for about an hour, while the left-hand lanes (the clip-ons) were left empty. Apparently this was for safety reasons, as the clip-on lanes could easily break and everyone would fall off into the Harbour.
No suprise, NZTA are currently blaming GetAcross for breaking their promise that no-one would go onto the Bridge as part of the 50th Birthday rally. NZTA are also saying the protest crossing was a waste of time as walking and cycling facilities are some 30 years away.
We can expect more controversy as the story unfolds over the next few days. We can also expect more protests as NZTA faces up to the burgeoning walking and cycling community.
Photo/ Justin Westgate
Further updates, photos and analyses will be posted as available.
Public Address: Burn fat, not oil
Sportzhub: Bridge Walk - "It Happened!"
New Zealand Herald: People power breaks barricades
Newstalk ZB:Protestors break police barriers to walk on bridge
TV One: Bridge reopened after peaceful protest
TV3: Marchers spill onto Auckland Harbour Bridge, defying police
Sportzvibes video of event including coverage of the gathering under the bridge and people enjoying the walk and expressing their views