By Jenny How to get there
The other week the NZ Herald ran a large full page opinion piece by Simon Wilson calling for, a lane of the Harbour be turned into a bike-way. Complete with an artist’s impression of what it would look like.
Simon Wilson: It’s time to bike the Auckland Harbour Bridge – NZ Herald
Simon Wilson’s opinion piece was followed by a protest on the Bridge the following Sunday.
Even on a Sunday this caused major traffic “Chaos”. If the protest had been done during the working week. The Bridge would have been thrown into gridlock.
Short of building another harbour crossing, there is another way to get cyclists across the Bridge. Buses.
The Auckland Harbour Bridge is an eight-lane motorway bridge over the Waitemata Harbour in Auckland, New Zealand…..
….About 170,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day (as of 2019), including more than 1,000 buses, which carry 38% of all people crossing during the morning peak.Auckland Harbour Bridge – Wikipedia
Dividing 170,000 vehicles by eight lanes gives you 21,250 vehicles per lane.
Ignoring for a moment the 1,000 buses. Let’s be generous and say there is only one person per vehicle, ie 21,250 people.
Take one lane off the Harbour Bridge for a bike lane, 21,250 people still need to get across the bridge every day.
Let’s be generous again, and assume that, 4,000 of these commuters will switch to bicycles to cross the bridge, every day. (even in bad weather). That still leaves 17,250 extra cars to crowd into the remaining lanes.
How can it be done?
But how about this?; double the number of buses, and Instead of taking one, (or two lanes) for a bikeway, take one, (or two lanes) to extend the Northern Busway across the Harbour Bridge, and right into the city centre.
Many buses are already fitted with a cargo bay. To accommodate cyclists wanting to cross the harbour, buses with cargo bays for bikes and dedicated bike loading bus stops either side of the bridge. (Cyclists will be able to cross the Bridge while viewing the beauty of the harbour from the comfort of the bus, in all weathers, and without risking getting blown over the railing).
For convenience of use, and to sweeten the deal, and to get even more people out of their cars, make the Northern Busway fare free for its entire length.
(People love free stuff) Single payer, means people still pay through their rates and/or taxes, but the trade off for commuters is in the savings made in fuel and running costs, not to mention parking costs. Other external costs, pollution, climate change, traffic congestion, will also be less. A net gain for all of us.
38% of commuters already cross the Harbour Bridge during peak hour on the bus. Increase that to 50% (or more), will free up capacity on the remaining 6 lanes – grid lock avoided.
Much less vehicle traffic and congestion and air pollution in the inner city, will benefit cyclists and pedestrians, and the remaining drivers.
One more thing. Make those buses zero emission buses. We only have 33 Zero emission buses in Auckland now, however the council say they intend to make the whole bus fleet zero-emission within ‘a few years’.
INNER CITY AUCKLAND CITYLINK BUSES GO ELECTRIC
…..The e-buses will help reduce carbon emissions and enable Auckland to meet its climate change goals and ditch diesel and petrol public transport, [Mayor] Goff says.
Not only are the e-buses quieter, but they will also improve Auckland’s inner city air quality – especially in the Queen Street valley area, he says….
……On Sunday April 25, Lower Albert Street will re-open for North Shore buses. Some Central and West Auckland bus routes will also now use it to begin their journeys out of the city
Auckland Transport will now have 33 zero-emission buses deployed.Inner city Auckland CityLink buses go electric | EV Talk (evsandbeyond.co.nz)
Each lane of the Harbour Bridge takes 21,250 vehicles a day. If we take one lane away for a bikeway most of those 21,250 drivers displaced by the bike-way are not going to become cyclists. Instead they are going to be crowded back onto the remaining 7 lanes. Since the Bridge is at capacity during rush hour now, this can only result in longer travel times and more ol’ pollution.
Far better taking one lane for a busway across the Harbour Bridge, and as an incentive to get people out of their cars, make it fare free, The Northern busway has been a runaway success. 38% of commuters already cross the bridge on the bus. The buses are a proven way of getting thousands of commuters to leave their car at home. However the Northern busway suffers a bottle neck at the Harbour Bridge and can never meet its full potential until it is brought right across the Bridge and into the City.
Ideally two lanes will be needed for a busway, but with the lane moving technology one lane would suffice. Southwards in the morning Northwards in the afternoon.
The return journey made on the uncrowded side of the motorway.
To incentivise the 21,000 motorists displaced by the missing lane, not to add to the remaining 7 lanes, the Northern Busway must be made fare free for its entire length.
The Auckland Harbour Bridge is an eight lane motorway, constructed solely for motor vehicle use only.
Like most motorways the Auckland Harbour Bridge doesn’t lend itself to being retrofitted for bikes and pedestrian traffic, The traditional answer has been to construct separate cycleways to the side. And this is being done on the Southern and Western motorways. But the Harbour Bridge presents a unique problem
There was a plan to build a sky-path for cyclists and pedestrians under or beside the main carriageway. But it proved to be a hugely complicated and expensive engineering project.
Taking a lane for a bikeway is not practical. The engineering nightmare that was the sky-path has been ditched. The new plan is for a new and separate bike and pedestrian harbour bridge to be built beside the existing harbour bridge. The price tag for this bridge is $785 million and the completion date is 5 years.
A fare free busway with an option for bicycle stowage is a far cheaper solution and can be implemented immediately. All of the infrastructure is already there.
On a personal note.
I recently took an intercity bus trip to the East Coast. At Gisbourne the bus was boarded by a number of cyclists who stowed their bikes in the copious luggage compartment for the journey to Taupo. At Taupo they got off the bus, took their bikes out, and continued their journey by bike..
It occurs to me that every bus should have these luggage compartments, for stowing bikes prams etc.
The government are considering giving one lane possibly even two lanes over to a bikeway as a temporary measure, until the new bike bridge is completed.
Instead of a three month trial of a bikeway. How about a Three Month Trial of a Fare Free Northern Busway all the way into the City. Who knows, we might find out, we won’t need any new bridge or tunnel harbour crossings with multi $billion dollar price tags.
Free public transport: Synchs in with environmentalism, reducing poverty & inequality. Demanding all cities have free public transport would help the poorest amongst us, demand more growth for public transport and take some of the stress out of our groaning roading system that can’t cope as it is. Major way to directly combat climate change.Fare-Free New Zealand