Cyclists and walkers conquer Auckland Harbour Bridge

Some four thousand cyclists and walkers today crossed the Auckland Harbour Bridge as part of the GetAcross campaign. What a wonderful way to celebrate the 50th birthday of our Auckland Harbour Bridge!

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

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. 
get across
CAN Protestor in VestPhoto/ 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 


Big congratulations to GetAcross! Peaceful, fun, effective and well-publicised.
But I was a bit alarmed to read that "the clip-on lanes could easily break and everyone would fall off into the Harbour". You what?? Last time I go over that bridge in a car! If it can't take the weight of humans, how does it manage the humans-in-cars effect, particularly when they are nose to tail in a traffic jam?
Or are they saying that cars make inefficient use of road space?
Oh, right, I get it.
Jane Dawson

Congratulations to all those who crossed the bridge! Observing from the cool south, having cyclists and walkers allowed to cross the bridge is common sense, and NZTA is a dinosaur with its head in a bog. What an opportunity for Auckland - to allow people to experience that glorious harbour in the fresh air, to reduce motorised traffic, and to encourage more healthy activity in the Queen city!
Do it every weekend, every day, you shouldn't need a special occasion. It can't be more dangerous than trying to cycle Highway 79 from Geraldine to Fairlie!(and believe me that's scary!)

good one - reminds me of a protest ride through the Lyttelton tunnel in Christchurch I took part in nearly 30 years ago. Lets hope it results in more progress on cycle access on the Auckland Harbour Bridge than we've seen in those 30 years in the Lyttelon tunnel!

Stephen Wood , based in Central Otago

Fantastic stuff team Auckland!

I'm confused. Very confused.

Does it seem to you that NZTA is INVITING protest?

1. What do you make of their refusal to let GetAcross use two lanes for the protest, so allowing traffic to flow along the other two?

- It seems to me NZTA and the Police figured the protest would happen and their 'safety plan' included diverting everyone onto the center lanes (and blocking use of the clip-ons), so holding up all traffic... 'for safety reasons'.
- Is this 'safety plan', the disruption, and then blaming GetAcross a cynical game, or are they for real?

2. What do you make of their stance that it will be 30 years before we see cycling/ walking facilities on the Bridge?

- Could they say anything more likely to generate more protests?
- Could they be more provocative and polarising for walkers/ cyclists, the public and the media?
- Whose side are they on?

3. What do you make of NZTA's 'disappointment' that people from GetAcross, the Greens, Labour, local transport authorities, local city councils, local transport advocacy groups, sundry other community groups and a whole bunch of individuals 'broke the GetAcross organiser's promise' and went on the Bridge?

- Do they think GetAcross own the protest?
- Do they think GetAcross could have stopped this?

... Confused

If the Northbound clip-on lanes were left empty while the cyclists and walkers were on the centre span lanes, then you've every right to be confused.

I agree that the "in 30 years" comment was polarising, when I heard it, it seemed like a deliberate wind-up.

It's a long time since I've been on the Bridge to understand/remember the access to the clip on lanes, why didn't the protest use them? were they blocked more effectively by the police than the centre lanes?

Stephen Wood , based in Central Otago

Fantastic event, with great publicity! Congratulations to GetAcross.

Robert Ibell
04-972 2552

Yes, thanks so much GetAcross for organising this - it was a brilliant day!

It's very sad that the media are making us out to be a bunch of crazed hooligans. Anyone that was there could see there was a very wide cross-section of the Auckland public - I have started posting photos of some of these highly intimidating activists on my blog:


Close Up, TV One, 7pm, Monday 25th May... "It was so easy; Tens of thousands of Auckland motorists brought to a stand still by protesters. How vulnerable is our biggest city to civil disobedience?"

Of course, expensive-car aficionado and Close Up presenter Paul Henry said "by a few protesters"...

Don't you just love Paul?

Paul to Get Across: "What right did you have to protest on the Harbour Bridge?"

Imagine CAN to Paul. "Duh. It's a protest, Paul. We don't have a right, but we did it anyway."

OR, as Alistair (below) says,

CAN to Paul. "We're trying to assert the right enshrined in national transport policy and Auckland's Cycle Strategy, and systematically blocked by NZTA."

And imagine CAN to Paul: "So Paul, what right do you have to drive your expensive car over the speed limit... daily?"

I thought the response to Paul Henry's "what right did you have to inconvenience motorists..." question should be "Cyclists and walkers have been inconvenienced for 50 years by the lack of harbour crossing..."

Alastair Smith

Well done GetAcross!! Great effort to all involved. Just really sad to see NZTA trying to create a villain, and some of the media trying to spin it out that way.

Well done to all involved for the publicity. Here's some video evidence of, *gasp*, cyclists and pedestrians using a road bridge, from the good old US of A of all places. Remarkably, they do not all appear to plunging to their inevitable watery end ala the closing scenes of Titanic. Spooky.