Auckland's Motorway Police support Transit's decision to decline an application by Destiny Church to walk over the Harbour Bridge as part of a march.
The event is planned for Saturday 5 March with indications from the church that twenty thousand people would be involved.
As owners and manager of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, Transit New Zealand has declined the request and there is no reason for Police to take a different stance.
Inspector Dave Walker, O/C Motorways, says "It would be a nightmare for the Auckland Motorway Network with certain gridlock, should a section of the motorway such as the bridge be used for this event involving such a large number of people. There are massive logistical problems with assembling such a group and the impact on the rest of the community and road users has to be considered."
The march is being planned for a Saturday morning - a time when there is the peak weekend traffic flow between 9am and 5pm. There are no defined commuter times on a Saturday but the traffic is spread throughout the day with 160 thousand vehicles crossing the bridge.
Other events including a fun run/walk last year involving up to five thousand people was declined for safety reasons and there are also potential structural impacts on the bridge, which is not designed for pedestrian usage. Also a march such as this attracts people who just want to walk on the bridge, so it is difficult to control numbers which then becomes a safety and structural issue.
Inspector Walker says, "Police facilitated the Hikoi last year as a matter of keeping the peace to avoid an invasion of the carriage-way. This was done after discussions with Transit Engineering staff and other experts, keeping in mind that hikoi numbers were only about ten percent of the numbers proposed by Destiny. Police would not expect any group including Destiny would encourage its followers to put their lives and the lives of others at risk through unauthorised walking on the bridge."
There are further opportunities and meetings for Destiny Church to adapt its march. Police are concerned that the organisers do not appear to have a back up plan and have encouraged them to look at options that do not involve the Harbour Bridge.
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Auckland Metro Road Policing
027 281 0271