Sydney Harbour Bridge Active Transport Accessibility

Concept image of the Sydney Harbour Bridge North linear ramp

Sydney’s iconic Harbour Bridge has separate walking and cycling pathways, separated from motor vehicles and trains. This is a vital connection between North Sydney and Sydney CBD, across our beautiful harbour.

After many years of advocacy, two lifts were opened in late 2018 connecting the existing pedestrian path across the bridge.

However, our friends using the cycling pathway on the other side, are still struggling with accessibility issues up and down the 55 stairs. Design proposals have gone back and forth for years without proceeding to construction plans. With over 2000 people cycling this route every day, this is a major accessibility issue, obstructing those with mobility requirements from accessing work, events and other activities via active transport. We have heard awful instances of wheelchair marathon athletes having to navigate physically down the stairs whilst their bicycle escorts carry their wheelchair.

Transport for NSW is proposing 2 ramp options, a linear and a double loop cycleway connection as part of the Sydney Harbour Bridge Cycleway Access Program to increase active transport participation.

Transport for NSW has been investigating many design options, shortlisting the linear and double loop.

WalkSydney’s thoughts on the proposal are:

1. We are generally supportive of the moves to upgrade the cycling accessibility and amenity of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and support moves to do this with urgency, preferring an immediate workable solution over a perfected longer-term vision. 

2. WalkSydney’s general rule is that separation of different speeds is desirable (walking, cycling, cars etc), so we support the clear distinction between modes across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

3. Increases in cycling are proven to make it safer for walking so any general increase in cycling amenity is supported by WalkSydney.

4. Adding in a pathway that does not have steps will improve the accessibility of the path for riders and other mobility users so we strongly support the introduction of a ramp in regards to access. 

5. From a safety perspective the linear ramp is preferable to the spiral option as view lines will be clearer, making it easier for people to see movements and activity around them. This is a key part of designing out crime in urban design. 

6. In the medium term we support converting a road lane into space for active transport as there will soon be roading options under the harbour to Sydney’s south and western areas, and sending cars into the city should not be a priority. A new path could be added on the alternative side of the bridge so that pedestrians and cyclists can use both the west and eastern edges of the bridge and their associated parts of the city. 

Have your say in the survey by midnight Mon 28 Jun 2021. (extended from 27 Jun due to the Sydney lockdown)

More details at Transport for NSW Sydney Harbour Bridge Cycleway Access Program.

Connection to Alfred Street cycle path
The PedalSetGo team struggling to manage their cargo bicycle up the stairs. PedalSetGo are cycling instructors based in the Inner West, who often run cycling and bike maintenance courses for North Sydney and Lane Cove council.