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Engineering Report Confirms: Walking and Cycling Lane on Auckland Harbour Bridge is Safe and Viable

An independent engineering report commissioned by Bike Auckland was released today and confirms that one lane of the Auckland Harbour Bridge can be safely allocated to pedestrians and cyclists without significantly impacting traffic flows. Link to full Smartreport here.

The report was authored by Richard Young of SmartSense Ltd, a Chartered civil engineer with over 35 years of experience in infrastructure design, construction and maintenance.

Using traffic numbers from Waka Kotahi stretching back to 2013, the SmartSense report concludes that the bridge can support current peak traffic demand with one of its eight lanes repurposed for active modes.

The report also proposes a practical design for a four-metre-wide lane for biking and walking, which addresses numerous safety concerns raised publicly by Waka Kotahi. The design includes a free-standing crash barrier which is approved by Waka Kotahi, and an unobtrusive anti-climb system used on comparable bridges overseas.

The report also concludes:

The Auckland Harbour Bridge is no steeper or longer than many shared paths already provided by Waka Kotahi, some built as recently as 2022.

Weather conditions would be suitable for 98% of the year, meaning an active mobility lane would be affected by adverse weather conditions at roughly the same rate as other bridge traffic, around three to seven days per year.

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While lateral movement has been identified as an issue when two adjacent clip-on lanes are used in mass pedestrian events, this is not a concern with the proposed design. The SmartSense proposal only uses a single lane, and predicted pedestrian numbers are well below the level identified by Waka Kotahi as triggering the effect. Moreover, Waka Kotahi has had engineering solutions in hand to mitigate this effect since 2010.

“The SmartSense report shows that a walking and cycling lane over the Auckland Harbour Bridge is safe and viable,” says Bike Auckland chair Karen Hormann. “An active mobility lane could be rapidly delivered at a cost of only $30 million, and up and running within 8 months.”

“All major harbour cities have ways to walk or bike across the water, to the benefit of locals and visitors alike – think of Sydney, Vancouver, San Francisco. Meanwhile, Aucklanders have watched, waited and despaired for decades as plan after plan for walking and cycling across Te Waitematā has been proposed, picked apart and then cancelled.”

“This is the fastest, fairest and most affordable way to bridge the gap between the North Shore and the rest of the city. It’s time to get on with it.”

Link to full SmartSense report

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