Sydney plans bike lane in the sky

Solution to lack of cycling street space

Cyclists in Sydney are in for a treat – if a $30million sky bridge gets the go ahead. The scheme is still in its early stages, but would see riders and walkers lifted above the city streets to enjoy a 2km car-free route.

North Sydney Council is promoting the plans for the bridge, which would stretch from the southern end of the Harbour Bridge north to Falcon Street along the Warringah Freeway. The bridge, dubbed Harbourlink, would give cyclists commuting south from Lane Cove a more pleasant way to get to work, and would save cyclists from the daily obstacle course of traffic and hilly streets.

It may look like a bike commuter’s fantasy, but North Sydney Council traffic engineer Kathy Edwards-Davis says that the proposal is as much about drawing attention to the area’s traffic issues as about putting forward a solution.

“It’s about highlighting the gap between the Lane Cove Tunnel and the Harbour Bridge, and showing that there’s potential to get more people on bikes and walking in that area,” Ms Edwards-Davis told BikeRadar.

Like much of Sydney, North Sydney has the problem that its main transport corridors are already occupied by roads, making it hard to find the space to build bike facilities. “In very developed areas like North Sydney there isn’t much room for cyclists or pedestrians so we need to look at alternatives like this,” says Ms Edwards-Davis.

The existing dedicated bike path on the Harbour Bridge is one of the glories of Sydney’s bike network. The proposed path would extend it up the hill into North Sydney, providing some of the best views in the city and elevating users above the pollution caused by cars clogging the city.

North Sydney Mayor Genia McCaffrey yesterday told the Sydney Morning Herald, "Having a decent bicycle network in Sydney is a key part of sustainable transport. Many people are deterred from riding bikes because there are no proper dedicated routes or because access to routes is difficult."

Ms Edwards-Davis insists that the airborne cycleway is technically feasible. “The main stumbling block is funding,” she says, adding that could come from state or federal government or even from a private company that wanted to be associated with an environmentally-friendly scheme. The council hopes to fund the next stage – investigating the likely level of use – from a state or federal government grant.

Mayor McCaffrey said that riders often felt vulnerable when riding on the main roads in the busy city. “You cannot ask people to ride bicycles unless governments provide safer bicycle routes. We need to separate the bikes from the cars.”

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