After years of delays to the long-awaited project, NSW Transport Minister, Andrew Constance, revealed the final concepts for the Milsons Point ramp.
Release of the designs comes weeks after Transport for NSW refused to reveal the options to the public because its staff wouldn’t have been able to cope with the volume of expected feedback. The options had been shown confidentially to some stakeholders previously.
A two-storey spiral cycleway at the northern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of two preferred options under consideration by the NSW State Government.
“Cyclists who use the Sydney Harbour Bridge cycleway will not miss having to negotiate the 55 steps they currently carry their bikes up and down each day at the northern end,” Mr Constance said.
One of the designs is a linear ramp that would snake north through Bradfield Park “on a gentle gradient” and link with Alfred Street, which runs parallel to the bridge. That option would reduce conflict between cyclists and pedestrians near Milsons Point station.
The other is a looped ramp that spirals twice between the bridge cycleway and the ground in Bradfield Park where the bowling green is, similar to a design floated in 2017.
Bicycle NSW general manager of public affairs Bastien Wallace said the advocacy group preferred the linear design as it was more direct and easier to navigate.
University of NSW built environment expert Mike Harris agreed the linear option had more flexibility and “could be quite elegant”, while the double loop could affect view lines of cyclists.
Committee for Sydney CEO Gabriel Metcalf, whose think tank has pushed to expand cycling infrastructure throughout the city, said the organisation would back either option.
“The most important thing is to make an easy, comfortable way to get lots of bike riders on and off the bridge,” he said.
North Sydney mayor Jilly Gibson has vowed to obstruct either options as they would take up precious open space in the foreshore suburb. The council last week voted to “strenuously object” to the proposal following persistent opposition from residents.
“So the cyclists have to get off their bikes and push them down some steps — big deal,” Cr Gibson said, adding the council may consider its legal options as the spiral design would probably involve acquisition of council-owned land.
“The community have spoken loud and clear, and they don’t want this. I don’t want this.”
According to the department, up to 2000 people cycle across the bridge per day, and upgrading the path would increase its capacity from between 600 and 900 riders an hour to up to 2000 per hour.
Transport for NSW rejected previous options of a lift or travellator as they didn’t solve safety or congestion issues and weren’t supported by the Heritage Council of NSW.
The department has excluded converting a lane on the Harbour Bridge into a cycleway, as suggested by Cr Gibson, because of impacts to the road network.
This article was first published in the Sydney Morning Herald.