Sunday, May 24, 2009

Legitimate protest? Or mob rule?

Auckland has its “Harbour Bridge”, a miniscule equivalent of the Golden Gate, or perhaps one of the Manhatten Bridges.

For the past few years there has been a campaign to provide for bicyclist and foot access to the bridge. A proposal for a maintenance access to be upgraded for the purpose was declined as too expensive – around $1.5 million and the security (of users) too difficult to provide. There was then, and still is from time to time, considerable heat in the debate.

Today there was to have been a “protest walk” from Auckland to the North Shore. The requisite applications were lodged and declined. So, the protesters lined up as arranged and eventually “broke through” police there to stop them.

The news this afternoon has the organizer and leader of the protest telling Auckland that while they are “sorry” for any inconvenience caused to people using the Bridge legitimately, “it was all the fault of the Road Transport Authority for preventing the legitimate and right to protest by walking the bridge".
But NZTA says the protesters will not get what they want any sooner.

Mr McDonald says there are plans to provide access for bikes and foot traffic, but it will be 30 years before it is complete.

This is what the same section of the bridge (looking in the opposite direction) looks like at rush hour...

giving some idea of the magnitude of the "problem". (the news photo from today is looking back down the four lanes on the left side of the bridge in the second photo.)

OK, so normally I would side with "legitimate protest". This time, no.

What is more, I do not particularly care if they do have to wait about 30 years. There are far more important public transport projects to be undertaken before the Bridge is opened to foot and cycle traffic. Projects such as; light rail to the Airport, reinstating rail access to Fergusson Wharf, public transport that does not presume everyone works in the CBD.... And perhaps by the time we are through the next 30 years we will have run out of oil.

So is it legitimate protest? Legitimate use of civil disobedience?

Or is this another instance of mob rule?

1 comment:

T. F. Stern said...

According to the eco crowd there won't be any fossil fuel to run the cars that take up that bridge in thirty years so the pedestrians will have no competition for the lanes now filled with cars and trucks.

We have folks here who want to shut down traffic lanes designed for cars and trucks just to make it safer for folks on bicycles; same kind of mentality. The generation which built the roads intended these roads to be used by cars and trucks; but the new eco friendly crowd wants everyone to park those smog producing cars and trucks to make way for bicycles which are somehow morally better.