Liberate the Lane rally

Photo: Bike Auckland

My brief speech

Ka rawe!

Amazing to see all of you here this morning to support Liberate the Lane.

How many of you were at the 2009 Get across rally?

Who enjoyed the walk or ride thinking you were on an official open day to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.?  If you did it-  like the heaps of mums with prams, kids, joggers, families out for an outing, riders, walkers, you were probably like me – got to half way point and thought hang on a minute that was such a gentle gradient – and wow the views !

How many of you were kids 12 years ago and thought when you grew up you’d be able to, of course, Get Across?

In fact, who can’t believe, like me that we are still protesting this shit?

Today is the 62 nd birthday of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.  The original plan included rail and pedestrian and bike paths but the miserable, short- sighted Holland Government cut it down to 4 lanes of cars.

62 years later WHAT DO WE WANT?


WHEN DO WE WANT IT?  NOW! (well we will settle for a trial in the Summer).

I shouldn’t have to say this but I am going to spell it out.  This is NOT a war on cars.  There is no war on the people of the North Shore held hostage by car dependency.

The cars are fine.  This is about lower emissions, less traffic, more transport choice, cleaner air, cheaper transport options, healthier communities and make making commuting fun!

Thank you for the invite to speak today and to all the organisers who have brought us together.  Kia ora.

On Auckland Council we support the discussions underway with Waka Kotahi about a trial of a walking and cycling lane on the Auckland Harbour Bridge and we’ve requested Waka Kotahi seek a practical solution to a cost effective walking and cycling crossing across the Auckland harbour. [a resolution passed through Cr Darby’s Planning committee 6 May 2021]

As Councillor for Waitematā and Gulf I can put it more bluntly: I support Liberating the Lane for at least a 3 month trial.  There is no political decision standing in the way of Auckland Transport and Waka Kotahi working together to deliver a safe, connected network across all Tāmaki Makarau including getting us across the Harbour Bridge.   We know we have the collective power.  We just have to want to do it.

And I think the turn out today shows loud and clear the people want to LIBERATE A LANE.

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā hau e wha.

Ngā mihi mahana ki a koutou katoa.

Updated: 1 June 2021

The peaceful protest on the Auckland Harbour Bridge

Photo: Jo Glaswell
Get Across rally 2009

I went along to the Liberate the Lane rally certain that I wouldn’t be taking part in a ride on the Auckland Harbour Bridge as I had in 2009.  Bike Auckland, the event organiser, didn’t promote a ride nor did any of the speakers, including myself, call for the storming of the bridge.

So how did I end up on the Auckland Harbour Bridge on a beautiful morning with 1500 other people? The day before the rally Auckland Transport advised of lane closures being put in place.  This created an expectation that authorities were anticipating the rally extending on to the bridge.  After the official speeches concluded in Pt Erin park many people flocked down to the bridge access road (Curran Street).  I went to take a look expecting to continue riding along Westhaven Drive.  When I got to the on ramp there was no police line, there were no officers giving instructions to not access the bridge; it was just an orderly queue of riders, walkers and people on every kind of micro-mobility (wheel chairs, scooters, skateboards,  and in prams) moving peacefully onto the bridge excited at the prospect of a Waitematā crossing on the 62nd birthday of the bridge ( I met a woman at the top who was celebrating her own 62nd birthday ).  Traffic management was in place closing the on ramp to vehicles and two lanes on the bridge (it wasn’t cyclists who closed the lanes).  I joined hundreds of others exercising our right to peaceful protest in what looked like an officially sanctioned rally onto the bridge.

Of course the media images and headlines gave a very different impression of the rally.  I don’t condone the actions of those who breached police lines with force or ignored police instructions.  I certainly didn’t lead the charge or encourage anyone to storm the bridge.  The vast majority of participants like me took part in a joyful, peaceful protest that highlighted the frustrations of not having an active transport connection between the North Shore and city centre for over 6 decades (the hashtag #LiberatetheLane provides countless positive pics and video)

I appreciate there are different views on whether, as an elected representative, I should have taken part.  I’ve reflected on that but consider I was exercising my right to peaceful protest just as I have many times at rallies on Queen St that also require traffic lanes to be closed and result in minor inconvenience to those not taking part.   An expression of people power for a cause is how change happens.

Further reading:

“Police were too kind to the cycle protestors” is misdirection at its finest.  Sarah Mohawk opinion piece

No plan for Harbour bridge cycle lane trial despite bike protests   Stuff, 1 June

 Liberate the Lane,  Greater Auckland

Unanimous vote to support Skypath

Skypath presentation with Richard HillsYesterday Auckland Council voted unanimously to support a Private Public Partnership funding model to deliver the Skypath project.  This now clears the way for a walking and cycling connection to finally be built on the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

At the Finance and Performance Committee meeting I was privileged to  speak in support on behalf of the Waitematā Local Board (the full report to Council is available here):

Happy smiles after the Skypath vote
Happy smiles after the Skypath vote

Thank you for the opportunity to speak in support of the PPP proposal in front of you today. I’m Pippa Coom Deputy Chair of the Waitematā Local Board joined by  member Richard Hill who will also present on behalf of the Kaipatiki Local Board.  Chair, Shale Chambers would have liked to have been here but gives his apologies.

We have been unflagging supporters of Skypath since day one of the Super City.  Our consistent support is found in our Local Board plan and each year as an advocacy position in our Local Board Agreement (extensively consulted on with our communties through the formal consultation process).    I would like to acknowledge those who have worked so tirelessly on this project over a long period of time (*listed below).

Support from the Waitematā community is strong.  You will have seen the map of submitters .    Of 63 submitters in St Marys Bay all are in support. In Freemans Bay 133 submitted in support.   In Herne Bay there is only one household in opposition .  From the  LTP consultation  558 submitters  specifically mentioned Skypath as a project with 485 in support.

The St Marys Bay Association  statement of position on Skypath notes they agree in principle to walking and cycling connection, note that there are technical and viability concerns but note that these technical issues can be resolved through NZTA licence to use process.  They also say the concerns raised by NRA about Council’s legal ability to fund Skypath are properly matters for Council.

The benefits to the Waitematā community are numerous:

  • Improved transport options to the North shore
  • Less congestion and less impact on the environment
  • Improved health and wellbeing of residents and greater productivity
  • Create the conditions for stronger local economies
  • Make both sides of the bridge more liveable
  • Opportunities to recognise mana whenua connections at  Pt Erin

I recommend NZ Govt/  NZTA’s recently published document Benefits of investing in cycling in New Zealand communities a comprehensive analyisis of the  key benefits of investing in cycling, for councils, communities and individuals.

These benefits return not just to Waitematā but to the wider Auckland region as Skypath plugs into a wider and  growing network of cycleways.  Like ATEED  we are also excited by the tourism potential.  I guarantee that no tourist will leave Auckland before experiencing Skypath and on to the harbour circuit.  It will be one of the must do attractions in NZ.  

Concerns have been raised about parking.   But I think parking issues have been over played and are based on the assumption that the Skypath experience starts and ends at the foot of the bridge.    Skypath is a missing connection of a much wider and growing network .  The starting point on the city side is  likely to be any number of locations on the network such as Tamaki Drive or  the downtown car park for those who really want to drive to a bike ride or a walk.  

We supported AT’s view that it is  unnecessary to do a parking survey on the southern side until we understand the extent of the currently hypothetical problem once Skypath opens. We can then look at what tools are necessary to manage  parking such as time restrictions or a residents priority parking scheme.  Fortunately AT now has a parking strategy with a suite of tools fit for purpose.

In the same way I think the query around patronage is also based on misconceptions about how Skypath is used – Barbara from Bike Auckland has addressed that well but just to also mentioned we are talking about trips – walkers, cycling, joggers – and the many return day trippers who will not exit at Northcote Point.

Skypath has been put under enormous scrutiny that is unprecedented for any other strategic transport project – except perhaps the CRL  . (I would love to see councillors push for the same level of assessment to roading projects ) It represents incredible value for money and is better value than most transport projects because of the wide benefits – environmental, tourism , health and well being, connected communities. We would  prefer for Skypath to be funded in the same way as nearly all regionally significant transport projects – from taxes and rates – but the PPP provides an excellent opportunity for a way forward that Council should support.

As the report in front of Councillors outlines the benefits of the PPP proposal are:

  • Skypath can be delivered sooner that would otherwise be possible and without Council carrying the entire financing cost
  • The private sector is incentivised to design, manage, finance, operate and maintain Skypath on an innovative and efficient whole of life basis
  • Appropriate delivery and operating risks are transferred to the private sector

Even if Council becomes liable for costs of any demand shortfall  (which is incredibly unlikely ) it is a relatively low cost project for the benefits we what we are getting  .  PWC review of the proposal concludes that the commercial terms are comprehensive and appropriate

If the PM and 3 ministers show up for the opening of 1km Quay St cycleway (not to mention the Mayor , Councillors, Chairman of the AT Board) – imagine the jostle of politicians when Skypath opens next year! But of course this is not about feel good photo ops for politicians. This project is for all Aucklanders that we just need to get on with and the means to do that are in the hands of Councillors today.

Award winning Te ara i whiti Lightpath has really opened Aucklanders eyes to how inspiring, innovative  and transformative a walking and cycle project can be  – Skypath is going to absolutely blow us away and will bring Auckland priceless international attention.

Thank you for your support.

*The many people we can thank for Skypath (from a list collated by Cr Chris Darby)

1970s & 1980s: Keith Salmon, Michael Bland and PATH group.

John Strevens, Colin Kay, Barry Curtis, Eric Salmon, Audrey van Ryn, Bryan Pulham, David Sidwell, the University of Auckland Cycle Club, the ARC Cycle Planning Group.

2003-2004 Petition: Graeme Knowles, Isy Kennedy, Ann Hartley MP, Bevan Woodward, Judy Barfoot,

Cycle Action Auckland: Including Adrian Croucher, Sally McAra, and others

Original Getacross Launch 2008:

Bob Harvey (now patron of the PathwayTrust)


Christine Rose (chair), Alex Swney, Andy Smith, Bevan Woodward, Kirsten Shouler (Coordinator), Roger Twiname (Airey Consultants engineers),Barry Copeland & Finn Scott (Copeland Associates Architects

Advisors: Lance Wiggs & Ed Willis

Cycle Action Auckland/Bike Auckland:

Graham Knowles, Barbara Cuthbert, Paul Shortland.

Launch of Initial Concept Design (2011):

Rod Oram, Mayor Len Brown, Nikki Kaye MP, Hopper Developments

Organisations – active support

Akina Foundation (then Hikurangi Foundation)

Ministry for the Environment (Community Environment Fund), Buildmedia, Heart of the City, Public Infrastructure Partnership Fund, Waterfront Auckland (John Dalzell), ATEED (Brett O’Riley), Auckland Transport (Kathryn King), Auckland Council (Marguerite Pearson), NZTA (Stephen Town), Beca Infrastructure, WT Partnership, KPMG, Russell McVeagh.

Advocacy: Generation Zero, Bike Auckland, Transportblog, Cycle Advocates Network, Walk Auckland.

Auckland Councillors: Chris Darby, Mike Lee.

Local Boards: Waitematā, Kaipatiki, Devonport-Takapuna.

Hundreds of Aucklanders donated time and money and many other Aucklanders donated money to pay for project expenses or gave pro-bono professional services including: Raul Sarrot, Graeme Lindsay.

Related reading

Unanimous vote for Skypath, NZ Herald

Greenlight for Skypath, Radio NZ (audio)

Auckland Council vote yes on Skypath, Stuff

The long road to Skypath – a 40 year time line, Bike Auckland

Where is Skypath- the story so far, Bike Auckland

Council gives Skypath green light, Bike Auckland

Council unanimously approves Skypath, Transport Blog


Skypath open day

It is very exciting to see progress being made on the Skypath designs which are going to be on view for feedback on Saturday.

Open Day sessions:

10 am to 12pm:        Westhaven, beside AJ Hackett’s ‘Bridge Climb’ base, Curran St.

1:30pm to 3:30pm:   Northcote, under the bridge at Stokes Point, Princes St.

The images are available on our website:  with link to Dropbox

The open day is in preparation for SkyPath’s Resource Consent application which will be fully notified to enable anyone to make a submission.

Skypath open day

Monthly Board Report February 2014

Covering activities from 1 December 2013 – 31 January 2014

This is my first Board report for 2014.  At the December meeting of the Waitemata Local Board confirmed Board member portfolios and positions. This term I am the following:

  • Transport and Community portfolio lead
  • Chair, Grants Committee
  • Member of the Isthmus Local Board Joint Funding Committee
  • Positions: Ponsonby Business Association, Newmarket Business Association (alternate), Ponsonby Community Centre representative, Parnell Trust Liaison

Getting to better know the Waitemata Local Board area

Margi Watson and Pippa Coom Beating the boundsBeating the Bounds

We started the new term by teaming up with Walk Auckland to “Beat the Bounds” of the Waitemata Local Board area. We walked our boundary from Meola Reef to Pt Resolution. It was an excellent opportunity to get to know our Board area and to ensure no encroachments from our neighbours on the Albert-Eden and Orakei Local Boards.

A highlight for me was walking the boundary along Newmarket stream and into Newmarket Park for the first time.  Access from Middleton Road has been blocked due to slips. I think there is huge potential to better link Newmarket Park with Ayr reserve and Thomas Bloodworth Park. As we discovered the Shore Road roundabout presents a formidable barrier and is unsafe for crossing pedestrians (the Transport portfolio has logged this issue with Auckland Transport).

Local Board Tour

Board member tour symonds st cemetaryIn January our appreciation of our Board area continued with a tour organised by our local board services team. We spent the day visiting our key projects from Weona walkway in the west over to the Pt Resolution headland in the east including Art Station (under refurbishment), Pioneer Women’s Hall, Freemans Bay Community Hall, and Symonds St Cemetery. We also had an unscheduled stop to pick up an order of Arch Hill War Chest larger from the Grovner brewery.

The Tour really highlighted just how many projects we have underway and what a fantastic board area we are fortunate to represent.

Portfolio reports:  Transport

Cycle safety

Barbara Grace with her electric bikeTragically the year started with a cycling fatality in our local board area on the corner of Parnell Rise and the Strand. It highlighted the desperate need for safe, separated cycling infrastructure on our busy roads.  Unfortunately it also unleashed ill-informed, heartless, victim bashing and the resurrection of myths like cyclists do not pay for the roads therefore shouldn’t ride on them.

I raised concerns with Auckland Transport regarding their communications  following the crash which wrongly attempted to put the focus on so called red light running rather than the positive steps AT is taking to improve cycling infrastructure in Auckland.  Fortunately the NZ Herald did run a very good series on cycling safety following the crash.  (See What my mum knows about cycling attached).

Greys Ave bus parking proposal

At the end of last year we responded to Auckland Transport’s proposal to install bus parking outside 95- 113 Greys Ave with the following feedback.

The Waitemata Local Board supports the work underway to upgrade Auckland bus services and the move to a new network with frequent bus services.  The provision of quality public transport as part of an integrated transport system is a Board priority. We appreciate that additional buses in the city centre require layover locations and it will be necessary to re-allocate road space for buses.

However we have met concerned residents on Greys Ave and have considered their reasons for objecting to the proposal.

Greys Ave is one of the few residential streets in the City Centre with apartments at ground floor level. We agree with the residents that Greys Ave is not a suitable location for a bus layover location (for a variety of factors) and object to the proposal to install bus parking.

We ask that AT consider alternative locations and road space suitable for bus parking (which might require the re-prioritisation of a general traffic lane).  Our feedback, made under delegated authority, will also be included in the Board’s February meeting agenda for endorsement by the Board.

SkypathSky path

In December the governing body voted to progress the Auckland Harbour Bridge pathway to move towards signing a memorandum of understanding with the Sky path Trust. I spoke in support of the project on behalf of the Board

I attended the meeting on 29 January hosted by the Council’s Sky path champion Brett O’Reilly (ATEED, CEO) with local residents groups and the Westhaven Marina Users Association to discuss the patronage review results.

Walkway to Arthur StreetWay finding

One of Local Board initiatives is way finding for pedestrians and cyclists. A surprising number of access ways in our area have no signage.

It is good to see a walkway sign been installed by Auckland Transport at our request on Ponsonby Road (indicating the walkway through to Arthur Street). We have requested AT investigate including the destination information on the standard walkway sign design

Monthly transport update

Monthly Transport catch ups were held with the Transport portfolio in December and January. Specific issues discussed include:

  • Coxs Bay bus turnaround proposal
  • Kingdom Street level crossing upgrade
  • Signage on Walkways/ access ways – it is the Board’s preference that these include directional information
  • Auckland Transport Code of Practice – currently under consultation until the end of March
  • Richmond Road safety action plan – upgrades on Richmond Road currently underway on the intersection of Cockburn street
  • Ponsonby Road safety improvements proposed for the Anglesey St intersection

Current issues are reported back monthly by AT on our public agenda including the details of the consultation undertaken with the Transport portfolio on behalf of the Board.

Portfolio update: Community

Community Funding

The allocation of grants for the second round of Community Grant funding was made by the Waitemata Local Board’s December meeting (it wasn’t possible to hold a Grants Committee meeting for this round due to the committee not being established following the election). Grants totalled $16, 505.15 were approved.

The deadline for applications to the third round is 21 February 2014.

Freemans Bay Residents Association

Congratulations to the latest Residents Association to be formed in our area. It has been a pleasure assisting the residents who have enthusiastically taken on the task of promoting and protecting the citizens of Freemans Bay. I attended the Association’s well attended first public meeting in December and answered queries.

More information at

Other issues relevant to the Community portfolio

A range of meetings were attended during December and January relevant to the Community portfolio – these are listed below.

Other board activities

Local Board Agreement

Council’s consultation on the draft Annual Plan got underway on 23 January and continues until 24 February 2014. As part of the Annual Plan each local board agrees with Auckland Council’s governing body on the funding for local activities and the local service levels for the coming year.

The draft Local Board agreement and details of proposed projects and budget changes is available on the Annual plan website

Unitary Plan

The Board hosted a workshop on 29 January to assist with making submissions on the Unitary Plan. I thought the workshop was useful for explaining the process and giving our community representatives the opportunity to raise issues and concerns.

Submissions can be made until the end of February

Workshops and meetings

In the period 1 December – 31 January I attended:

  • Local Board grants workshop on 2 December
  • Local Board workshop on 3 December
  • Meeting with the Newmarket Community Association on 3 December
  • Freemans Bay Residents Association public meeting on 3 December
  • Meeting to discuss Transport consultations on 4 December
  • Meeting with Ken Clive regarding SH16 widening project
  • Review of the Ponsonby Road masterplan meeting on 4 December
  • Site visit with Arch Hill residents to discuss safety and maintenance concerns on Waima Street
  • Waterfront Forum on 5 December at Shed 10 – developing a new form of partnership
  • Newmarket Business Association meet and greet at the Board office on 5 December
  • Localised carbon reduction plan for Waitemata local board area discussion on draft and next steps
  • Introductory ATEED meeting on 6 December
  • Site visit with John Street resident on 6 December to discuss parking on the footpath
  • Kids in the City (Project: Children Researching Children) presentation by 6 children  (aged 10-12) on findings from research they conducted this year on various aspects of what it’s like for children living in /around the Auckland CBD. This pilot research was funded by Massey University and Auckland Council
  • Ponsonby Road draft masterplan feedback – report to the Ponsonby Road masterplan working group at the Local Board office on 9 December
  • Pioneer Women’s Hall needs assessment presentation on 10 December
  • Waitemata Local Board monthly business meeting on 10 December 2013  at the Local Board office, Graham Street
  • Meeting with the General Manager of the Ponsonby Business Association on 11 December
  • Briefing of local board members on the Sky path project on 12 December
  • Waitemata Local Board workshop on 12 December
  • Workshop – Low Carbon Auckland: To seek feedback from Councillors and Local Board representatives on the proposed draft Auckland Energy Resilience and Low Carbon Action Plan (titled ‘Low Carbon Auckland’).  Engagement with the incoming Councillors/ Local Board representatives was requested by Councillors and Local Board representatives who attended a workshop held on 19 June 2013 when an initial draft action plan was discussed.
  • Meeting with Cheryll Martin, GM at Volunteering Auckland on 12 December
  • Seminar on the second release of 2013 Census data held by RIMU on 13 December
  • Community-led Placemaking Champions Group meeting on 13 December
  • Waterfront Auckland workshop for Local Board members and Councillors on the development plans Wynyard Central
  • Waitemata Local Board workshop on 17 December
  • Attended the Governing Body meeting on 19 December 2013 and spoke in support of Skypath.
  • Update on Costley Reserve playground upgrade/concept plan  and Playground Design and consultation for the play space renewals projects programmed for 2013/2014
  • Transport catch up on 14 January
  • Meeting to discuss the draft Waitemata Local Board Transport Engagement Plan on 20 January
  • Meeting to discuss Art Station
  • Site meeting with a mosaic artist to discuss a mural in the Grey Lynn toilets
  • Waitemata Local Board tour on 23 January
  • Unitary Plan workshop discussion on 24 January
  • Meeting to discuss Local Board Plan timetable
  • Waitemata Local Board workshop on 28 January
  • Ponsonby Community centre Board meeting on 28 January
  • Monthly Transport portfolio meeting on 29 January
  • Board hosted Public Workshop: Making Submissions on the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan on 29 January
  • SkyPath – meeting on 29 January with local residents groups to discuss the patronage review results
  • Meeting to discuss community leases under consideration 30 January
  • Workshop on the Local Government Act (LGA) Amendment Bill (no 3) and opportunity for Local Board input in to the council’s submission on 31 January
  • Meeting to discuss Neighbours Day with the Community Development portfolio on 31 January

Events and functions

In the period 1 December 2013 – 31 January 2014 I attended:

  • Opening of the Franklin Road Christmas lights on 1 December 2013
  • Official party at the Citizenship Ceremony at the Town Hall on 3 December 2013
  • Annette Isbey exhibition opening at the Central Library on 4 December
  • Cycle Action Associates breakfast at the Auckland Art Gallery on 5 December
  • Outlook for Someday Awards at the Aotea Centre  on 6 December at the invitation of Connected Media (I am a trustee of Connected Media)
  • Beating of the Bounds – walk of the Waitemata Local Board boundary from Meola Reef to Pt Resolution bridge  on 7 December
  • Carols by Candlelight at Western Park on Sunday 8 December delivered by the Board
  • GLBA Christmas lunch on 10 December
  • Auckland Conversations: New Zealand’s Climate Change and Oceans – Professor Sir Peter Gluckman on 12 December
  • Grey Lynn 2030 Christmas lunch and annual public meeting on 18 December
  • Sugartree development Christmas function (at the invitation of Sugartree)
  • Memorial gathering for the victim of the crash at the intersection of Parnell Rise and the Strand
  • Big Day out at Western Springs on 17  January (two tickets provided by Regional Facilities)
  • International Buskers Festival VIP Night Show at the invitation of Crackerjack Productions on 25 January
  • On Anniversary Day  I enjoyed checking out all the activities along the waterfront including the Ports of Auckland festival at Captain Cook Wharf, Seafood Festival at the Viaduct Events centre, Buskers International Festival and Laneways
  • Auckland Conversations: Auckland’s Economic Development – Greg Clark – Global Cities Advisor

End of Beating the Bounds on Pt Resolution Bridge

Walking and cycling on Auckland Harbour Bridge a step closer with approval of Skypath

SkypathYesterday’s Governing Body meeting was dominated by the censure of the Mayor. But also on the agenda was a very significant and exciting project that has strong public support. In a confidential session the council voted to move the project to the next phase allowing council officers to work towards a formal agreement with the Skypath trust and their backers.

The Skypath presentation is available here including details of the proposed construction and a range of  impressive design images . Ben from Cycle Action Auckland also spoke in support of the project and highlighted that it is a critical link for walking and cycling.  More details on how the path will connect at each end on Transport Blog. 

Photo credit: Cathy Casey
Photo credit: Cathy Casey

I had a last minute call up to speak on behalf of the Waitemata Local Board (standing in for our Chair Shale Chambers who waited 3 hours to speak) to confirm the backing of the Board.

I noted the Board’s long term support for the project which is included in our Local Board Plan and emphasised that we are now keen to move on to the details which will address the concerns raised by the resident associations. There is no doubt that it is a transformational project that has the Board’s full support to be taken forward to the next stage.

Congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard to get to the project to this point in particular Bevan Woodward from the Skypath Trust.