Island Life by David Slack

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Island Life: Symptoms persist

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  • Terry Baucher,

    Hi Nick, great photos and nice blog. Cheers.

    Still don't understand why we couldn't just use the clip ons. The gradient incidentally wasn't as bad as I anticipated (and was a hoot on the descent).

    Devonport • Since Nov 2008 • 84 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    Last year truckies, this year bikes.

    Next year I want to see horses.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 688 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Thomas,

    The gradient incidentally wasn't as bad as I anticipated (and was a hoot on the descent).

    I reckon! In all seriousness, motorway asphalt is so smooth! Ideal for cycling.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Mrs Skin,

    ...motorway asphalt is so smooth! Ideal for cycling.

    I'm told, by a friend who makes a study of such things, that the early proliferation of cars is in part down to the lobbying of cyclists who wanted smooth roads to ride on. The paved roads proved ideal for motoring...

    the warmest room in the h… • Since Feb 2009 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    So I guess you just gave up on the "We will be insisting that we get to cross, but will not force our way onto the Bridge. It is the Police's call as to whether we get across" bit you put in the flyer :>

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1712 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Also, what are the chances of applying for this to be done as a "Great Ride"?

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1712 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Well good for all the cyclists, I reckon, for making it across the bridge. It does strike me as somewhat bizarre that there is no cycle lane, really. Bit of a hard ride though, what? All that up......

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3112 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    So I guess you just gave up on the "We will be insisting that we get to cross, but will not force our way onto the Bridge. It is the Police's call as to whether we get across" bit you put in the flyer :>

    It turned out quite differently from either my expectations or intentions.

    I'll write about it in the morning because an unrelated lunch/wake has intervened.

    I'll just say this: they didn't need to close the centre lanes, and the fact that they did leaves me thinking there was a tactical cynicism to the decision.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • Terry Baucher,

    I'll just say this: they didn't need to close the centre lanes, and the fact that they did leaves me thinking there was a tactical cynicism to the decision.

    Absolutely. Unfortunately, and typically, no journalist appears to be asking that very obvious question. If they can do it for the Auckland marathon why not today.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2008 • 84 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    One more thing - Nick D'Angelo, thanks for that intelligence you slipped me for passing on to the crowd. Excellent.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    It's interesting to see the MSM headlines used to report this: some could almost be read as positive (references to "People Power" in the Herald), but the general emphasis was on "traffic chaos". I'd have thought that an interesting way of describing it would be "Auckland Harbour Bridge breaks efficiency records", since the footage of the throngs on the bridge highlights just how spatially wasteful private vehicles are as a mode of transport.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1037 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    Excellent work to all. Would have loved to have been there; sounds like it was a grand day out for all.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 707 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Thomas,

    I'll just say this: they didn't need to close the centre lanes, and the fact that they did leaves me thinking there was a tactical cynicism to the decision.

    Wayne McDonald does seem to be keen to try and polarise the issue:

    "The Transport Agency says it has learnt lessons from the action, and will beef up security next time anyone plans a protest"

    Hmmm, that's constructive. I guess Wayne didn't hear what the Road Policing Manager had to say about 3-4000 people determined to cross the bridge.

    Oh well, I'm sure John "Cycleway" Key can sort things out, as soon as he's recovered from Coming third in an oyster eating competition.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson,

    I saw the LTSA advertisement in the local paper this week - boy did it annoy me. Paraphrased :
    - we support your right to protest
    - safety is most important
    - no we will not close off the clip-on so that you can use it

    That is just so effing arrogant ...

    I wish I could have been there - would've loved the opportunity to cycle the bridge.

    I'm really interested to know whose decision it was to close all four lanes. There was always going to be the possibility that some would try to get onto the bridge - surely the sensible option would be to plan to close the clip-on should that occur.

    By blocking all four lanes, it seems to me that there was a deliberate attempt to provoke anger in the inconvenienced motorists, to try and get negative publicity for the getting across movement.

    I wonder if any journo's will follow this up.

    Cheers,
    Brent.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 343 posts Report Reply

  • andrew gunn,

    I just have this thing about breaking the law.

    And how, if you’re going to, it should be for a seriously good reason. Something fundamental, like the abuses that led to:

    Sitting in the whites-only part of the bus.

    Standing in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square.

    Being chained to the fence at Greenham Common.

    Occupying the pitch in Hamilton in 1981.

    But here? Believe me, I’m quite prepared to accept that biking: good; NZTA: bad. You had me at “bureaucracy”. But being gosh-darned frustrated by a government agency – that’s a rather low threshold to set for justifying law-breaking, n’est-pas? Or maybe this particular law just wasn’t that important. Guess I didn’t get the memo on that one.

    And this, too: There’s been a lot of cheap talk lately about the difficult job the police have and how we need to support them. Well here’s a suggestion: don’t arse up their Sunday mornings. And no, giving them a patronising round of applause after disobeying them does not make it all better.

    I am now feeling the urge to write a sentence using the word “respect” in a non-ironic way. So I’ll get my coat.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2009 • 39 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Andrew, you may be missing the whole "government road building agency vs those who want to do anything other than drive cars" angle.

    Invading the sacred tarmac is more significant than it may seem, like invading a rugby field in Hamilton helped native South Africans win their elections 14 years later.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15715 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    Hi Andrew,
    Hardly my battle to fight, but as an occasional visitor to the Shore (and also Lyttelton), I think there is something pretty fundamentally wrong with either having to pony up $15 (return) or have a car, to visit a different part of the city that is under 2km away. And the bridal path is a semi-reasonable alternative by comparison.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 667 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    And the bridal path is a semi-reasonable alternative by comparison.

    Thread-merge: but surely the bridal path should be open to everybody who wants it, and/or abolished completely.

    Andrew, I hear you on the question of law-breaking thresholds, and why one might want to reserve illegal behaviour for the really big questions. I suspect much of the glee of the occasion (including my vicarious excitement) came from the chance for usually civil folks to be disobedient.

    At the same time, like Sacha and James, I think that cycle-pedestrian access rights DO fall on the same continuum as your other examples. Especially the bit where the people say "we refuse to be discriminated against any more" and the authorities say "all right, hold your horses, we'll get around to it... in 30 years. In the meantime, stay at the back of the bus/in your segregated teams/in your bomb shelters/watch out, here comes another tank."

    Invading the sacred tarmac...

    I think the symbolic value of the event was worth millions in leaflets and petitions. Not just the event itself, but the pictures now circulating - happy children, walking families, fit cyclists, at least one chipper little dog, that cute kid in the WeeRide, and gorgeous views seen at walking pace. Auckland helped by turning out a beautiful sunny day. It was a pretty compelling glimpse of a low-carbon utopia -- or just a city bridge open to all, like most city bridges around the world.

    Which is why, I suspect, the authorities tried to fight back on the fly with the only symbolic tool they had left, short of running around like Keystone Kops and tasering everyone: the decision to jam the northbound lanes in an attempt to piss off drivers.

    Divide and conquer, ancient tactic. Hope the drivers of Auckland didn't fall for it!

    (PS don't get your coat - stay and chat! welcome aboard!)

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1408 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Apposite MLK quote from Frank Rich's bang-on editorial about gay rights in today's NY Times:

    “For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait,’ ” King wrote. “It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’ ”

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1408 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    What Jolisa said.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15715 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    And while I'm on a roll... Andrew's list of examples is really interesting, in that they pretty much all concern public space. And that the demonstrations are about making manifest a vision of who may occupy them, and how.

    The thing about Greenham Common is that it was a common, which had been rather dodgily leased to the Yanks. And so by reoocupying the common, and chaining themselves to the fence, and singing alarming folksongs at nonplussed soldiers, the protestors manifested a vision of the common as public space. (Even if it was all eventually sorted out by Watership Down guy having a word in the ear of a Lord or two).

    Tiananmen Square, likewise: a public space. Until it wasn't, and I think we're all pretty much in agreement about how that's a Bad Thing.

    The Montgomery city buses: public space, governed by unconscionably unfair rules. (Note for GetAcross: it wasn't Rosa Parks's initial refusal that nailed the change, it was the widespread and incredibly inconvenient boycott that followed... prepare for the long-range campaign).

    The pitch at Hamilton? A more complicated example, but again, in hindsight, we see the public/national nature of the playing space, and the representativeness of the players in national uniform, and how they both needed to be visibly called into question.

    And the Harbour Bridge: the only direct free access between the two halves of our major city. Last walkable/bikeable a decade before I was born. Next official chance, according to the powers that be, will arrive when I'm a little old lady on a bike.

    I'd be quite happy to hurry that up a little, by (almost) any means necessary. And in the meantime, a well-signalled, well-organised demonstration of what it would look like - peaceful, exhilarating, safe, quiet, human-scale and joyful -- seems like a very useful teaching tool to me.

    Since I'm name-checking all the major human rights players today, this seems like a fine example of "be the change you wish to see." Also, if I can't bike, I don't want to be part of the (Auckland transport) revolution.

    (And yes, point taken about not arsing up the police officers' Sunday morning - luckily, there were only a few of them :-).

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1408 posts Report Reply

  • Nick D'Angelo,

    David Slack :I'll just say this: they didn't need to close the centre lanes, and the fact that they did leaves me thinking there was a tactical cynicism to the decision.

    My thoughts too. I was on the Bridge fairly quickly and started motioning and yelling for people to stay or move over to the clip on lanes, I was walking just behind the Works Truck that was furiously trying to drop orange cones across the lanes. The guy putting down the cones was yelling at the throng "Get on this side you dumasses!" - by which he meant the centre lanes. I was puzzled so I asked him directly "You mean you want us in the middle, NOT the clip on lanes?" and he said "YESSS!" in an exasperated tone.
    So I then motioned for people to move off the clip ons and on to the centre lanes instead, but by now it was too late - there were masses of people all gleefully cycling/walking up the Bridge.
    This begs the question: What was their fallback position if protestors DID storm the bridge? It seems they wanted on us on the centre lanes, not the clip ons (see this picture here - there was another row of Bridge staff further up the Bridge also trying to move the crowd into the centre lanes). Maybe they planned to move us into the centre lanes, allow traffic onto the clip-ons, and then we'd be penned in so we could be arrested?
    No, I can't believe that - that would be very dangerous.
    As I walked back down the bridge to Curran Street I commented to those around me (several times, since the crowd was changing and we all seemed to be musing the same thought: 'Wow, I can't believe they let us take over the Bridge') that I felt allowing us to use four lanes and thereby blocking off ALL vehicle access north was deliberate. I suggested then, and still believe, that the plan was to create traffic chaos because that would not play well on Talkback radio on Monday morning.

    David Slack: One more thing - Nick D'Angelo, thanks for that intelligence you slipped me for passing on to the crowd. Excellent.

    He's referring to the word I put in his ear during the speeches at the rally that morning. I live in the area and at 7am on Sunday morning I tried to drive over the bridge via the Curran St on-ramp. But it was already blocked, so I had to turn back and get on at Fanshawe Street (Victoria Park). As I approached the Bridge I saw that they had closed off the two clip on lanes with orange cones, so all vehicles had to use the centre lanes. I presumed then that they were planning to allow the clip-ons for the Getacross rally at 9am.
    But when I drove back across the bridge at about 7.40am all the cones had been removed and traffic was flowing over all lanes.
    So ... did they change their minds? Or were the cones laid out (in the early morning) as some sort of practice run?
    If the Transit Boss has already said they're going to need a new/better plan next time then he shouldn't mind telling us now what his plan yesterday was. It seemed very loose.

    Simon Laan • Since May 2008 • 156 posts Report Reply

  • Nick D'Angelo,

    BTW - I should point out (further to my comments above) that I was in no way involved in the Getacross rally or it's organisation. I really was just a local who wandered up to see what was happening. The organisers in their speeches made it very clear that the plan was to ask Wayne the Transit Boss to let them cross, but if he said No then they weren't going to do anything illegal like crossing the Bridge. This was disappointing for me personally, but I figured the plan was to rally a mass of people to the gates of the Bridge, unable to cross, and get those images on the nightly news.

    I was on the Bridge fairly quickly and started motioning and yelling for people to stay or move over to the clip on lanes

    My 'helping' like that was simply due to my seeing that Getacross had no Marshalls in place (since they hadn't planned to cross the bridge illegally) and a bit of crowd control was required (blame it on my years as an event manager, and my experiences in the Springbok Tour protests).

    Simon Laan • Since May 2008 • 156 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Well Nick, I'd say you've just demonstrated why they needed to close both sides - you had people walking across both sides!
    Considering it had been started by, frankly, idiots running/cycling out on to an open motorway I fail to see why anyone should assume that the protest would have stayed on one side only.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1712 posts Report Reply

  • Nick D'Angelo,

    ahem ... to clarify: we only took over one side - the side heading north. We could have just as easily funneled up the two clip-on lanes on the left if we had not been directed to move over to the centre lanes by the Transit staff.

    Simon Laan • Since May 2008 • 156 posts Report Reply

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