Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sunday bridge, Auckland Harbor Bridge.

Today many of the Auckland public took the first opportunity to cycle over
the Auckland Harbour bridge with approval from the Transport Agency, which was overwhelmed by an illegal crossing by about 2000 cyclists and walkers in 2009 pushing for their own pathway. The wind over the bridge is too strong to make cycling safe. At times the bridge had to be closed to motorcyclist.
Today 160 Metrolink and North Star buses lined up their vehicles along the motorway north of the bridge from 1am to form a 2.3km protective wall for the cyclists. This was to protect the cyclist so they don't get blown over into the sea.

They will line up from the Pt Erin Swimming Pool for a 15km excursion over the bridge, then up and down the Northern Busway from about 7am, an hour after the start of a 110km race of members of a heavier duty "lycra" cycling brigade.

Then from 8am, it will be the turn of children to take part in shorter 8km or 2km rides with their families along sections of the busway from Smales Farm, where there will also be entertainment and cycling education activities until midday.

An entry price of $10 will entitle them to a certificate and tee-shirt each, and has been reduced since the event was first mooted.

But the registration fee for the 110km race remains at $110, and the 15km bridge and busway jaunt will cost participants $15 each.

Other participants in the cycling events will include Auckland Mayor Len Brown, triathletes Hamish Carter and Debbie Tanner, and a goodly turnout from the cast of television soap opera Shortland Street.

The agency has given approval for up to 9000 cyclists to cross the bridge, but organiser Callum McNair believes many potential participants have been pre-occupied with other events such as the Rugby World Cup and the election.

Even so, he hopes his events can survive as regular fixtures on Auckland's community calendar, and that momentum will grow once people become more familiar with them.

"Being a year one event, there are a lot of people unsure of what we are about," he told the Weekend Herald.

"Are we a hard-arsed cycling organisation, are we a community cycling group, and really we've got to put the rubber on the road and show people we are actually both."

"Then I think people will get it, but seeing is believing with these things."

A number of cyclists will wear slogans of the Getacross Campaign, which wants a shared pathway across the bridge, a goal which he and the tandem riders support as a way of fulfilling Mr Brown's aspiration to turn Auckland into "the world's most liveable city."

"Certainly cycling plays a part in that," Mr McNair said.

But he paid tribute to the Transport Agency for approving the events, and to the drivers of 160 Metrolink and North Star buses who will line up their vehicles along the motorway north of the bridge from 1am tomorrow to form a 2.3km protective wall for the cyclists.

That will keep motor traffic away from the cyclists, who will reach the busway from the bridge's eastern or seaward clip-on lanes

Watching the cyclists reminded me of a daring bike ride I made in 1974. I rehashed this to my friend Jenny Yaw Peng who was then a student at Kai Chung School. Her dad had a bicycle shop.

I normally returned to my parents' town during the weekend. Somehow, 3 male students aged 14 persuaded me to ride with them to the bush. I taught them English and they were the naughtiest kids in the class. They told me that they would take me to a stream where we could swim. I was 19, and was fun loving.

I didn't pack a picnic lunch, and all I remembered was riding and riding and riding. Then we got off the main road into a narrow track. It must have been more than 10 miles each way.

When I got back, I saw Jenny's dad Mr. Chew. He must have seen my sun burnt face and asked where I had been. He shook his face and said, I could at least have asked his bicycle repairing apprentice Ah Li to check over my bike. What if I got a puncture. I never thought of that. Whew!!!!

Later, I told my colleague. He said I was crazy to trust those students, because at that time, it was during the height of the communist insurgence. The soldiers could have mistaken me to be a Communist and shot me right there and then.

I have forgotten these 3 boys, and it would be fun if I see them again. The students are planning for a reunion. I wonder if they would be there.

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Andy said...

Wow! That must have been quite a sight to see all those cyclists and walkers. I found your story very interesting. Sounds like it might be a good ideal to wear a floatation device when crossing the bridge on foot.

Francisca said...

I like that there is an open dialogue going on about making the bridge bicycle friendly. As Andy said, it would be exciting to see all the people crossing the bridge on foot and bicycles. And your own bicycle story seems to reflect a more carefree and adventurous you. :-)

Al said...

Great bridge, and that scan came out very well. I love bridges like this.

Ginny Hartzler said...

What an amazing picture!! You were daring to go with the naughty boys!!! As I was reading, I thought they were going to take you somewhere and leave you stranded!! But all's well that ends well!!

Kim, USA said...

That would be exciting to some people but not me. I am claustrophobic! ^_^


The JR said...

Very interesting, but I'll pass since I don't like heights.

genie said...

Being that Buddy is always running or biking, the idea of this ride is pretty neat. Love the Getacross shirts. I needed one of those when I was trying to get across my V for Victory Culvert bridge in my silly post this week. Your story about going out with the student is a real scary one. Know you were taken aback when you were told you could have been shot. Glad you were OK...and just maybe you will get to see the boys again at the run-on. genie

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

How wonderful it would be to see all those bikes and walkers!