Time for the Transport Agency to take walking and cycling seriously

GetAcross Media Release 4:30pm, 24 May, 2009

Time for the Transport Agency to take walking and cycling seriously

After watching more than 5,000 people stream across the Auckland Harbour Bridge, GetAcross spokesperson Bevan Woodward says: "This is an incredible outcome.  We are blown away by the high turn out of Aucklanders and their determination to get walking and cycling access on our Harbour Bridge.

"As organisers, we were very clear in our instructions that supporters mustn't force their way onto the Bridge, but 'people power' took over today.  People of all ages and from all walks of life decided that they'd had enough of the Transport Agency's inaction and wanted to show how strongly they felt."

"I do apologise to motorists caught up in the traffic congestion. It was never our intention to cause disruption to the traffic, however the Transport Agency needs to review how it handled the situation.  The Transport Agency refused our requests to meet or even discuss the event in the months leading up.  We had requested two traffic lanes to provide safe access without disrupting the traffic, the same way the Auckland marathon does each year. Yet the Transport Agency decided today to close all 4 north-bound lanes."

"We hope that the Transport Agency now decides to take the Auckland Harbour Bridge walk/cycleway seriously.  We have had enough of their weak excuses as to why it cannot be provided. In fact the Transport Agency's conduct has been so poor, that last week we lodged a complaint with the Auditor-General's office."

"Moving forward, we are prepared to work with the Transport Agency in a productive and positive manner.  Today we have asked the NZTA's CEO and Chair for a meeting to discuss how we can do this."


Copy of Bevan Woodward's speech from today's Demonstration of Support follows…

GetAcross spokesman Bevan Woodward's speech given at 9am, Sunday, May 24 at the Curran St on-ramp of the Auckland Harbour Bridge:

Good morning Auckland!   Thank you everyone for coming along today to show your support for walking and cycling on this, our Harbour Bridge.

50 years ago today the Bridge was first opened to the public of Auckland, but since then our Bridge has been the exclusive domain of motorised vehicles only.

Your being here today will help ensure this travesty doesn't go on for much longer.  With today's strong showing of support, we are letting the decision makers know that it's not a matter of IF there should be walking and cycling access, but WHEN!

And of course the answer to that question, in this age of ever increasing traffic congestion, air pollution, CO2 emissions and obesity is NOW!!!

I'd like to take a moment to especially thank the Police who are here today.  In my meetings with the Police they advised that if the Transport Agency's Wayne MacDonald - who is here today, and that's him there! - if Wayne MacDonald says 'Yes'
this morning, then the Police will provide us safe passage across the bridge.

We've suggested to the Police that we go across at 9:30am. Then at 10:30am everyone turns about and we make our way here, thereby clearing the traffic lanes by 11:30am, causing minimal disruption to traffic.

I appreciate isn't always easy for the Police when they find themselves the meat in the sandwich between ourselves and the NZ Transport Agency, so I thank the Police for their co-operative and helpful approach.

In contrast the NZ Transport Agency's performance continues to disappoint. The Agency has refused to meet with us to discuss our gathering today.  They are stopping the Police from provided safe access across the Bridge today.  And they spread misinformation saying it's not safe to use the clip-ons lanes, when then own board papers recommend they be used.  The Transport Agency's behaviour relating to the walk/cycle way study has been so bad that on Thursday we lodged a complaint with the Auditor-General's office!  Have a look at our website for details.

Thanks so much to all the volunteers who have worked to make this day something special. Many great people have given their time and skills to support this vital Auckland project.

Now after the short speeches that follow me, we're going to gather at the gate and ask the Transport Agency's Wayne MacDonald to say "yes" to the Police so that they can allow safe passage across the Bridge.

We will be insistent, but we must not and will not force our way onto the Bridge.  We only go over if the Police provide safe access, which I repeat, they will provide if the Transport Agency's Wayne MacDonald gives the word.  So everybody, what's the word that we want to hear?...  "YES!"

Thank you!