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NZTA: 'Kill it', GetAcross: 'Trial it!'

Press Release November 21, 2008

Transport Agency says ‘Kill it’, GetAcross says ‘Trial it!’

The NZTA Board has announced that it will not support the walkway and cycleway on the Auckland Harbour Bridge, a decision GetAcross’s spokesman Bevan Woodward says “was very disappointing, given the strong support the walkway and cycleway has from ARC, ARTA and the majority of Aucklanders.”

The NZTA says it isn’t supporting the project because it believes it is not high priority, Mr Woodward says “Let’s really find out if the walkway and cycleway is a priority for Auckland with ARC chair Mike Lee’s idea of the trial. We support his idea - let’s get on and make it happen this summer!”

“Logistically, it is easy to do because the bridge’s northbound clip-on lanes will be closed each Saturday night for the strengthening project, hence the lanes could remain closed until Sunday early afternoon to allow Aucklanders to walk and cycle across the harbour. Access to and from either end, using the local roads to Westhaven and Northcote Point is straight forward.”

Another of the Transport Agency’s reasons for not providing walking and cycling access is that it will reduce the economic life of the clip-on’s. “This is a remarkable claim, given the recent assurances by the Board that the current strengthening project is future-proofing the clip-on’s for walking and cycling options. Furthermore, in May this year the Transport Agency received extra funding of $500,000 for the strengthening project to ensure the walkway and cycleway could be added in future.” says Mr Woodward.

“We’d like to see the NZTA adopt a ‘can do’ attitude to providing walking and cycling access on the Auckland Harbour Bridge, starting with the trial for this summer”.

ENDS.


www.getacross.org.nz


Background notes and Frequently Asked Questions are attached.

Background notes

The Transport Agency announced its decision to not proceed with the Auckland Harbour Bridge walkway and cycleway in this letter: http://www.caa.org.nz/AHB/Comms/081117NZTAdecision.pdf
The letter advises that the NZTA Board will not include the walkway and cycleway on its prioritised list of projects because this project has achieved a low assessment against the criteria in the Planning, Programming and Funding Manual. This contradicts the earlier statement from the previous CEO Rick van Barneveld that: "Transit acknowledges that the provision of appropriate access for cycles and walking across the Waitemata Harbour is a priority for the Auckland region"
http://www.caa.org.nz/AHB/Comms/080514TNZtoHonTizard.pdf

The NZTA Board Chair also refers to the "consequential impacts of the proposed facility on the structural integrity of the bridge and its ongoing operation" - the implication being that the walkway and cycleway would reduce the ‘economic’ life of the clip-ons, however the May, 2008 Land Transport NZ Board Paper 3089 confirms that the clip-ons are being future-proofed for the walkway and cycleway:
• "While carrying out structural analysis of the AHB. Transit included a loading case involving a cycleway/walkway. The analysis found that a cycleway/walkway, which partly used the existing carriageway and also included a slight extension on the operating width, was structurally feasible. Accordingly, the current proposed works include minor additional strength in the lateral members to accommodate this addition if required at some time in the future." (Item 8)
• "Transit NZ considered that incorporating this future-proofing in the current works would be sound, given its modest cost at around $500,000." (Item 8)
http://www.caa.org.nz/AHB/Comms/TNZpaper3089strengthen.pdf

In addition, NZTA Board member Bryan Jackson advised Cr Christine Rose, ARC's Chair of Transport in this May 19, 2008 letter that:
“The Board deliberately sought the necessary funding to ensure that further structural elements will be incorporated into the current strengthening works to future-proof the clip-on lanes and allow for future walking and cycling options on the box girders.”
http://www.caa.org.nz/AHB/Comms/080518TransitBJtoARC.pdf


Walking and Cycling Access on the Auckland Harbour Bridge

Frequently Asked Questions

‘Isn’t it too expensive and how would it be funded?’

The cost is significant but the resulting economic benefits from health, decongestion, CO2 reduction and tourism are far greater.

Funding for the walkway and cycleway could come from the Auckland regional fuel tax which has allocated $54 million to TDM, walking and cycling projects.

Auckland’s 10 year Regional Land Transport Strategy stipulates that 4% of the total Auckland transport budget is to be spent on TDM, walking and cycling. Yet after three years, only half of this allocation has been spent. The accumulated under-spend is estimated at $42 million (and increasing by approximately $15 million per annum).

The media is reporting the cost at $24 to $43 million, depending upon which option is chosen. However these cost estimates include a 30% contingency and 15% funding risk. The actual cost for the project excluding allocation for contingency and funding risks, ranges between $13 million and $24.5 million.


‘Is it a priority for the region?’

Yes, the walk/cycle way not only fixes most the most glaring gap in Auckland walking and cycling network, it is a corner stone project for improving walking and cycling in the Auckland region - similar to Britomart Station being the corner stone project for the revival of Auckland’s once dreadful rail passenger service.

Currently Auckland has the reputation of being one of the worst cities in the world for walking (pg 28, ARTA’s Sustainable Transport Plan 2006-16) and only 1% of Aucklanders regard cycling as “always safe” (ARC’s Community Perceptions Report 2007).


‘Do Aucklanders want it?’

Yes, in November 2007, Y&R commissioned market research to gauge the level of support amongst Aucklanders for the walkway and cycleway. Very strong support was revealed, with 76% in support, 12% against and 12% unsure. See the survey results at: www.caa.org.nz/AHB/Support/MarketResearch.pdf

‘Will it affect the flow of traffic across the Bridge?’

No, the walk/cycleway will not affect the number of lanes on the bridge and any reconfiguration of lane widths will be designed to keep traffic flowing safely and with sufficient space for comfortable driving.

‘Aren’t the clip-ons too unstable for a walkway and cycleway?’

The clip-ons are currently undergoing a major strengthening project which includes the addition of 700 tonnes of steel at an estimated cost of $45 million. This strengthening will reduce movement making the walk/cycleway safe and comfortable;

"Through innovative thinking, further structural elements have been incorporated into the current strengthening works at relatively low cost to future proof for future walking and cycling options on the box girders [clip-ons]."
May 2008 Board Transit Paper 6189
www.caa.org.nz/AHB/Comms/TransitBdPaper6189.pdf


‘The Government’s Policy Statement doesn’t allow enough funding’

The Government Policy Statement sets a cap on its “walking and cycling facilities” activity class of $30 million per year. However Ministry of Transport advises that the walkway and cycleway could be included under the much larger activity class of “New & improved infrastructure for State highways”, which has $750 million allocated per year.


‘Isn’t it too steep to walk or cycle over the Auckland Harbour Bridge?’

The gradient of the bridge is 5%. Cycle experts advise that a steep gradient is one that exceeds 7% and that modern bicycles have gears designed for such gradients.

The Waitemata Harbour Crossing Study (completed in March 2008, involving transport officers from ACC, ARC, ARTA, NSCC and Transit) determined the Auckland Harbour Bridge as the recommended option for providing cycling
and walking access across the harbour.


‘Is it safe to bike or walk on the bridge?’

Yes, the walkway and cycleway ensures the safety of both pedestrians and cyclists by separating them from the general traffic with purpose-built barriers which include handrails and provide protection from wind and traffic emissions.

The cycle path will be attached to the west side of the bridge, and the walkway will be attached to the east side of the bridge. Cyclists will need to maintain safe speeds as they down come off the bridge, a situation very similar to the Greenhithe Bridge shared path.


‘Why not wait until the next harbour crossing, or use racks on the front of buses to carry bikes?’

The Waitemata Next Harbour Crossing Study 2008 determined the next harbour crossing shall be a tunnel for vehicles, with walking and cycling access to be provided on the existing Auckland Harbour Bridge. Waiting for the harbour tunnel to is built means waiting 20 years or more for walking and cycling access across the harbour.

Putting bikes on buses to cross the bridge is not a satisfactory option, as cyclists enjoy cycling for fitness and convenience, and don’t want the delays and financial cost of taking a bus. A bus can carry a maximum of 3 bicycles at time, thus it is not appropriate for the estimated demand of 500 to 1,500 cyclists/day.

Cyclists currently use ferries to cross the harbour; however the demand is now exceeding capacity at peak times, hence Fullers Ferries support walking and cycling access on the Auckland Harbour Bridge.


ENDS

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