Auckland cyclists broke through police barriers to protest. Photo: Waka Kotahi NZTA

Our big cities are supposed to be getting more cycling friendly – but progress is slow and there is a wall of road users who would rather bicycles just disappeared

Dr Kirsty Wild is putting up $1000 for the first photo of Mike Hosking cycling over Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Wild is a passionate cyclist and an expert on bike lanes. An environmental sociologist at the University of Auckland, for the last five years she has been looking at healthy/sustainable transport transitions. She has also done a lot of research into “bike lash” or negativity against cyclists.

She and her young son were among hundreds who cycled the Harbour Bridge on Sunday as part of the Liberate the Lane protest.

They are calling on Waka Kotahi to trial a bike lane on the bridge for three months this summer. The transport agency is investigating converting a traffic lane to a cycle way but says the current barriers on the side of the bridge are not safe for cyclists and walkers. It also says there is no protection against traffic coming into a bike lane.

Cyclists say the Government has been too slow to come up with a solution but critics of the cyclists who broke through police barriers to get onto the bridge have called them cockroaches and lice on social media and urged motorists to use their bumper bars to run them down.

Today, Wild talks to The Detail about what happened on Sunday; the angry, nasty backlash and why she would cross the bridge again in protest.

She jokes that Hosking and other outspoken cycle lane opponents would be pedalling across the bridge in week two of a lane opening on the bridge – if it ever happens.

On the serious side, Wild says Auckland will never achieve the goal of 7 percent “mode share” for cyclists by 2030 to meet climate targets, without a link to the North Shore.

Auckland Council has pledged to halve emissions in the city by 2030 from current levels. Under the transport targets, cycle mode share by distance will increase from 0.9 percent now to 7 percent. Mode share is the number of trips or percentage of travellers, using a particular type of transportation, from public transport, car, to walking, cycling.

Wild says that goal is unrealistic without a cycle lane on the Harbour Bridge.

“What are we doing? We can’t wait 10 years for electric cars, we hold on to our cars for about 12 years, there’s very little charging infrastructure (for electric cars), even the city rail link is going to reduce emissions by 1 percent. The ferries are full, 50 people got turned away last month trying to get their bikes on ferries, cycling’s one of the first cabs out of the rank on climate.”

Want more from The Detail? Find past episodes here.

Sharon Brettkelly is co-host of The Detail podcast.

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