I’m looking forward to walking and cycling over the Newmarket Viaduct this Sunday. There is the promise of stunning views and a festival atmosphere as people take over a stretch of motorway. Planning for the event and for the full closure the following weekend when the “switchover” occurs has highlighted our obsession with car travel and how much Auckland’s traffic planners struggle to embrace alternative options (but there are hopeful signs they are willing to make an effort).
We can thank Cycle Action Auckland for working with NZTA to give cyclists as well as walkers the opportunity to cross the new Newmarket Viaduct.
Walkers will be able to access the bridge from 9am – 2pm, followed by cyclists from 2:45pm – 3:30pm. We will have 45 minutes to enjoy the 1.5km ride up and down the new viaduct.
In a media release from NZTA, Barbara Cuthbert from CAA says “Cyclists will love this ride in the sky, over the city, and its panoramic views. It has the added allure of being in easy cycling distance from the Newmarket train station. We are delighted the NZ Transport Agency has invited cyclists to help celebrate the project’s progress.”
The Newmarket Connection: Southbound switch is happening for 36 hours over the weekend of 4/5 September. There are major concerns about the disruption this will cause. NZTA’s advice is to switch the mode of transport or to keep it local.
A group on Facebook are calling for free public transport for the weekend to give Aucklanders the chance to “try out public transport for free to help encourage our city to get out of their cars and into more sustainable, less congestive forms of transportation”. Auckland Transport blog agrees. ARTA are preferring to encourage Aucklanders to take trains as an alternative with NZTA not convinced that free travel will ease congestion (Viaduct closure will hit bus services). It is disappointing that ARTA, NZTA and the Auckland City Council weren’t willing to take this rare opportunity of a motorway closure to create a lasting impact on car use in Auckland. A weekend of free travel can encourage a longer term switch to public transport.
Like Unity Finesmith and thousands of others I plan to just carry on as normal and travel on my bicycle!