Kate Hawkesby: Cycle bridge in Auckland ain't happening

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Wed, 4 Aug 2021, 8:59AM
A concept drawing for the Northern Pathway, a new separate structure for walking and cycling next to the existing Auckland Harbour Bridge. (Picture / Supplied)
A concept drawing for the Northern Pathway, a new separate structure for walking and cycling next to the existing Auckland Harbour Bridge. (Picture / Supplied)

Kate Hawkesby: Cycle bridge in Auckland ain't happening

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Wed, 4 Aug 2021, 8:59AM

I extend thoughts and prayers for cyclists this morning.

It looks like their precious bridge crossing may be confined to the scrap heap.

As is was predicted moments after it was announced, and got an almost unanimous negative response – gosh even some cyclists thought it was a dumb idea, it’s likely now it’ll never happen.

Grant Robertson yesterday wouldn't confirm or deny the cycle bridge, only to say that they ‘continually look at the transport network to see it works well’.

That’s politician speak for – it’s toast.

So what does this tell us?

Well like I said yesterday, it tells us very clearly this Government hates bad press. It tells us a 10 point drop in the polls really sharpens the mind, and it tells us they’ll move like a wind sock under the gales of public pressure.

Seasonal workers are in, the cycle bridge is out.

What can we expect next? And more importantly, is this a precursor to what we can expect as we head into the next election?

Are flip flops, false promises and knee jerk reactions good for us?

Well not if you want some stability and consistency from your leadership, some long term strategic management. I would’ve thought good leadership is about properly doing the work up front before you leap into announcements.

Costing and canvassing something to the hilt, before you throw out the press release and roll out the Minister. And then once you have your plan, sticking to it.

Obviously in this case a back down is the only and best course of action - but we shouldn't have been put through this farce in the first place.

The cyclists will rightly be annoyed, although did they really believe this would actually ever get off the ground?

The announcement came with no formal detail or specifics; the Government hadn’t done the homework on it, and it became increasingly hard to justify.

Add to that the public backlash and you can see how they’d now like to pretend this never happened.

So it really should surprise no one that it’s going to fizzle into the ether alongside Kiwibuild, Lightrail, and any number of infrastructure projects you want to name.

So let’s recap the telling way this has unfolded:

A bad poll for the Government and two specific questions come out of that poll.

One, about loosening the border for seasonal workers and two, the cycle bridge.

24 hours later, seasonal workers are in.

24 hours after that, the cycle bridge is on the ropes.

Almost 82% of people in the poll said the bridge was a dumb idea.

So what we’re seeing here, therefore, is less of a government governing, and more of a reactive popularity contest based on poll data.

Is that good solid leadership? Or is that just amateurs winging it?

Sadly I think it's the latter.