Whitiora Bridge – Boundary road

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In 2005 Hamilton had three bridges with on-road cycle lanes. In 2019 only one bridge has cycle lanes (the south side cycle lane on the Victoria Bridge has been reduced to 1 metre; I’m not sure if we can call that a cycle lane, so maybe we could say 6 cycle lanes in 2005, 1 in 2019). The first act of the 2005 ‘Access Hamilton plan’ was to remove the cycle lanes from Whitiora Bridge, after the then Mayor said that “Access Hamilton’s vision is one of efficient and secure access around the city for everyone, whatever means of transport they choose to use.”

The reality is that the Access Hamilton plan has allowed the car to dominate and once the single occupant car driver starts using a piece of road width, taking any of it away from them will panic them into asking for their right to dominate to be protected. The assumption is that change will be resisted and that resistance will be successful. The 2005 Access Hamilton plan expects this to continue, as stated below:

Some time ago the people from Livingstreets suggested there is room under the bridge to suspend a cycle and pedestrian path.

As an example, in Canada BC, the Richmond Canada Line Bridge has a path bolted to the side of the bridge; this first photo shows the supports.

The scale of the supports looks impressive. Below is a closer look and a link to more photos showing a lot more detail. They show that the supports are made from a Universal Column, with each of these supports being held in place by six bolts. The path looks to be a good 4m wide.

The radius of the curve under the Whitiora Bridge is about 1.2 to 1.3m, and the flat area is about 2m, giving a total of just over 3m of cover above the proposed path, which is similar to the Canada Line bridge.

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Claudelands Bridge – Lane widths

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When it comes to carrying traffic, Claudelands Bridge has always been a lightweight. For the last two decades it has carried between 10,000 and 13,000 vehicles per day (vpd). Compare this to the Fairfield Bridge, with its narrower 3.07m lanes, which carries 18,000 to 20,000 vpd.

Question 1 – Is it reasonable to think that if Claudelands Bridge vehicle lanes were the same width as the Fairfield Bridge, there would be no effect on the number of motor vehicles using Claudelands Bridge?

Is it reasonable to narrow vehicle lanes to 3.1m on Claudelands Bridge, so we can use this width to widen the footpaths to 2.6m at a very low cost.

Question 2 – If buses no longer used Claudelands Bridge, we could have 2.8m car lanes and give 8- to 80-year olds the same 2.8m width for walking/biking. Would this be fair?

The bridge has a limit on motor vehicle weights, which suggests that increaseing the bridge’s overall width would need some serious engineering checks and would also add cost, complexity and delay to the project.

Focus on the words “less than nine months” in the above summary of the re-decking of Victoria Bridge in the early 1990s. Among the Hamilton City Council staff there are some amazing people who can make things happen. There are plenty of ideas about what can be done to improve Claudelands Bridge. The Victoria Bridge re-decking example shows that the design and build can be done within a few months. The delay comes firstly from political willingness to actively support change and secondly from the availability of NZTA funding.

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