The NZ Transport Agency is working with the organisers of a new cycling event planned for Auckland in November 2011 to explore the feasibility of using the Auckland Harbour Bridge as part of the course for the event.
"We’ve asked the event organisers to provide us with information on the number of cyclists expected to take part, measures to ensure the safety of competitors and race marshals, and their traffic management proposals. If everything meets our strict event criteria we’ll be able to give it the go ahead," says the NZTA's State Highways Manager for Auckland, Tommy Parker.
Mr Parker says the event would have to be run on similar lines to the Auckland Marathon in order to minimise disruption for drivers who rely on the bridge. The event would be held on a Sunday morning when traffic volumes are traditionally light, the two lanes on the northbound box girders (the clip-ons) would be closed to traffic, and like the marathon, the lanes would need to be re-opened by mid-morning before traffic begins to build.
The cycling event is planned to run from the Wynyard Quarter at Westhaven to North Harbour Stadium at Albany. The Auckland Harbour Bridge would be part of a controlled start with a designated "yellow zone" with riders staying in groups while crossing the bridge until they reach the Stafford Road exit on the Northern Motorway.
Mr Parker says while the NZTA is helping event organisers with their application, the agency has to measure it – and any other request for an alternative use of a section of the bridge - against the primary role of the Auckland Harbour Bridge as the most critical section of the country's state highway network.
"Even with a partial closure of some lanes, the Auckland Harbour Bridge remains a high speed motorway environment and requests for lane closures and alternative uses are granted sparingly, and only after very careful consideration."