SkyPath still has safety issues, say community groups

3:51 pm on 24 August 2018

A proposed walking and cycling link across the Auckland Harbour bridge is being opposed by some nearby residents who say there are serious safety concerns.


The government is to fullly fund the SkyPath across Auckland Harbour Bridge. Photo:

Yesterday, the government announced it would fully fund the SkyPath, a $67 million clip on lane that would connect the central city to the North shore.

It has been described as a transformational project that will give people the freedom to walk and cycle.

Barb Cuthbert from Bike Auckland applauded the decision.

"Honestly if any project was tested, reviewed, scrutinised - it is SkyPath."

The Transport Agency is expected to complete a business case for it by the middle of next year that would provide more detail about its timing and design.

But Kevin Clarke from the Northcote Residents' Association said no plan would be able to solve the safety issues with SkyPath.

"You'd only need a panicked evacuation, which could be triggered by any one of 30 or 40 different things and there'd be a truckload of corpses at either end of the facility.

"It's a major problem and I don't believe they'll ever find a solution to it."

The Harbour Bridge was built in 1959 and first extended in 1968, when two clip-on lanes were added.

Mr Clarke said the association did not oppose the walking and cycling path, but it did not want an extension to the existing bridge.

Resource consent was originally granted for the project in July 2015 by independent commisioners but was appealed by several community groups.

In 2016, the Environment Court granted the project its resource consent stating at the time Skypath would "regulate and minimise effects on the environment entirely adequately" and safety concerns were addressed.

Others were more optimistic about finding solutions to safety concerns.

Devonport-Takapuna Local Board chairperson George Wood was confident the Transport Agency would come up with answers.

"They're going to have to have emergency systems in place [like] the Waterview tunnel to deal with emergency situations because that's going to have to be important," he said.

"But I'm certain that the engineers from the New Zealand Transport Agency will be able to alleviate those problems."

But Mr Wood agreed that the planning for SkyPath needed to be extensive.

"We've got to see a structure that is going to be wide enough to take [bicycles] going in both directions along with pedestrians...and we also need a structure that isn't going to impair the integrity of the eastern clip-ons," he said.

The Skypath Trust, which is working with the Transport Agency on the project, estimated 5000 commuters would use the link each day in summer and 1000 in winter.

Don Mathieson from the Herne Bay Residents' Association said there needed to be ample parking for walkers and cyclists who decided to leave their cars at one end.

"There could be a few hundred cars parked in the area and there really isn't much parking here."

The $67m worth of funding is part of the government's three-year $390m investment into walking and cycling projects nationwide.

Details of how the rest of the money will be spent is expected to be made public next week.