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Bike riders and the Sydney Harbour Bridge steps
New designs released for the Sydney Harbour Bridge bike ramp

Transport for NSW have released two new long-awaited concept designs for a bike ramp to replace the Sydney Harbour Bridge steps at Milsons Point.

More than two years after community opposition sidelined the project, the two new concepts involve a linear ramp snaking through Bradfield Park and link with Alfred Street or a spiral ramp similar to the design first floated in 2017.

Sydney Harbour Bridge concept 2 - Transport for NSW

Click the images above for a larger version. 

In revealing the concepts, NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance told the Sydney Morning Herald, “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.”

It is hoped that by making it easier to access the Sydney Harbour Bridge cycleway, the ramps will boost the number of people riding bikes over the bridge to more than 2,000 each day.

Plans for a ramp to replace the 55 steps were first announced in 2016 with multiple announcements and designs revealed since.

In March 2018, the then Roads Minister Melinda Pavey said at the time that there were “some big challenges” to the project including Milsons Point residents who fear the ramp will detract from their views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and impinge on greenspace and nearby Bradfield Park. 

Transport for NSW ruled out alternative proposals put forward by residents and North Sydney Mayor Jilly Gibson which they hoped would reduce impacts on local green space which included a lift or travelator.

Alongside local bike advocates, Bicycle Network has been campaigning for years to see the steps removed to help improve access for bike riders as well as people with disabilities, mothers with prams and those who struggle to navigate steps.

Bicycle Network Chief Executive Officer Craig Richards said that the proposal would facilitate rising numbers of commuters travelling to work by bike in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and roll out of separated cycleways across Sydney.

“We shouldn’t have had to wait so long for such a vital upgrade (and) the coronavirus bike boom has given us the perfect opportunity to finish the plans,” he said.

However, this might not be the end of the battle to get the steps replaced with an accessible ramp. North Sydney Mayor Jilly Gibson has once again come out strongly against any ramp and vowed to obstruct either option as they take up open space.

Transport for NSW said that they will seek community feedback on both concepts "over the coming months" and work with key stakeholders and industry experts to find an "outcome appropriate for this world-famous location".

The Sydney Harbour Bridge steps are a priority project featured in Bicycle Network's Four Photos series. Click here to see the full list.

This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.