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?

WE WANT TO GET ACROSS – WE WANT TO LIBERATE A LANE!

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