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Bicycle NSW has worked closely with Bicycle User Group Bike North to try and achieve better outcomes for walking and cycling along the Warringah Freeway corridor.  Consultation on two key documents - the Place, Design and Landscape Plan and the Active Transport Network Review - recently closed.  Our submissions are here and here.

Read on to learn about recent advocacy and how you can have your say on future proposals.

It is more difficult than ever to navigate North Sydney outside a vehicle

The impacts on pedestrians and bike riders have been awful during the construction works for the Warringah Freeway ‘Upgrades’.

Widening of this transport corridor to accommodate yet more car traffic has removed existing active transport infrastructure such as the Falcon Street underpass, the direct ramp to the Ridge Street bridge and access to the motorway shoulder along Cammeray Golf Course. People walking and cycling through the area continue to be inconvenienced by very circuitous detours.  We have lost precious urban tree canopy to widen road space, seriously reducing amenity for those living nearby.

This direct ramp to the Ridge St Bridge has been removed.  A temporary scaffold structure is in place for at least 2 years.  It towers over neighbouring residential properties and has 5 zig-zagging legs. Cyclists must dismount.  (Image: Bike North)

Car-first thinking is so prevalent at Transport for NSW. This means we can't move forward with creating Better Streets and a decarbonised transport system. The NSW Government continues to prioritise increased traffic volumes.  Pedestrians and cyclists have lost dearly to induce motorist demand.

It is not acceptable that the project’s legacy is a diminished active transport network

Transport projects of this scale must leverage the huge NSW Government investment to deliver amazing new facilities for walking and cycling.

However, the Warringah Freeway works do not include the game-changing upgrades to the active transport network that Bicycle NSW and Bike North have advocated for over three decades.

The Gore Hill cycleway, delivered by the Lane Cove Tunnel project in 2007, offered a tantalising vision of separated infrastructure that could one day be extended to the Harbour Bridge.  Sadly, the possible routes south of Naremburn to the Harbour Bridge remain dangerous. All but the most confident bike riders are deterred from active transport.

Scraps of active transport infrastructure will be delivered to replace removed assets. However, they are disconnected and fail to improve the experience of navigating through the corridor on bike or foot.

The Falcon Street shared user bridge will be rebuilt but the scope does not include improving the difficult crossing of Falcon Street to reach Leonards Park.

The Ernest Street bridge will incorporate a new 10 metre-wide landscaped land bridge with dedicated pedestrian and cycle lanes, helping to form a green link between the open spaces to the east and west. Unfortunately, the bridge will remain isolated from the West Street cycleway that North Sydney Council is delivering. (Image: Transport for NSW)

Two options were offered for ramping up to the replacement Ridge Street bridge. Neighbouring residents chose the least obtrusive – a straight ramp with a lift.  But the ramp is 11%, twice the gradient of the previous ramp, and lifts are slow and prone to breakdown.

These bridges are described in detail in Section 5 of the Place, Design and Landscape Plan. The plan is on exhibition till 11th July. The community is asked to provide feedback on the landscape design and vegetation, materials, lighting, finishes and wayfinding here.

Will there ever be a high-quality strategic cycleway through North Sydney?

There is a chink of light at the end of the (Western Harbour) tunnel. In accordance with Condition E195 of the planning approval, an Active Transport Network Review (ATNR) has been prepared in consultation with relevant councils, Bicycle NSW and Bike North.

The process wasn’t all smooth sailing. Engagement began with a worrying lack of transparency. Bicycle NSW petitioned the former Minister for Active Transport to intervene. Subsequently, the WFU project team and Transport for NSW’s Active Transport team listened closely to our priorities and concerns, spent time with us on site and hosted 4 workshops attended by a large group of stakeholders.  We appreciate this major uptick in engagement.

Bike North and Bicycle NSW discuss options for improving the notorious crossing of the Brook Street on-ramp during a site visit with Transport for NSW staff in February 2023.  It’s mid-morning but traffic on the Warringah Freeway is stationary.  One more lane will fix it…. (Image: Bike North)

In addition, the Eastern Harbour City Strategic Cycleway Corridors program was released in 2022. The identification of the North Sydney Connections as an ‘immediate opportunity’ has clearly provided new impetus to plan continuous bike infrastructure on the Lower North Shore.

The ATNR contains a detailed review of existing and potential active transport networks within 500m of the Warringah Freeway Upgrade footprint. Recommendations are made for future infrastructure.

Bicycle NSW strongly supports the six cycling connections identified in the ATNR

A map showing the existing and proposed active transport network with several significant gaps identified as priorities. (Source: Transport for NSW)

 Opportunities 5. North Sydney CBD West and 6. Lavender Street to Blue Street are the highest priority. Safe cycling facilities on this alignment would enable more people to ride to the Harbour Bridge from most directions. A vehicle lane on Pacific Highway must be reallocated to create a separated cycleway from Arthur St to West St.  We do not believe that this option should be rated 'red' for technical difficulty/constructability.  There is a wide swathe of tarmac ready to use!  Apparently, the need to maintain vehicle lane widths means relocating kerbs and removing trees.  But 40 (or 30) km/h speed limits would allow narrower lanes and a myriad of other placemaking benefits for North Sydney.

TfNSW needs to be reminded of the proposal to reconfigure arterial roads set out in the 2022 Future Transport Strategy.   A multi-modal street is more efficient at moving people. Prioritizing pedestrians over private cars, as outlined in Transport for NSW’s Road User Space Allocation Policy, brings environmental and health benefits.

Pacific Highway offers a perfect opportunity, alongside Victoria Road, Parramatta Road and Oxford Street, to set a benchmark for reimagining Sydney’s unloved arterial roads.

Opportunity 1: Gore Hill Freeway would fix a highly dangerous gap in the network but will need a grade separated crossing of the Brook Street on-ramp. Opportunity 2: Falcon Street Interchange ideally requires an extension of the Falcon Street shared user bridge to St Leonards Park.

 Opportunity 4: North Sydney CBD East is a visionary project that could unlock safe access to the Harbour Bridge for people approaching from the north and east, although it needs to include additional linkages to the east.

Please head to the engagement portal to download the draft ATNR and explore the interactive maps.  What do you think of the 6 priorities? What other locations desperately need improvements for walking or riding?  Although the surveys have now closed, TfNSW will still listen to your thoughts on how walking and bike riding can be made more attractive, comfortable and safe. Please write to the project team at and your state MP (Image: Transport for NSW)

But NONE of these projects are in the Warringah Freeway Upgrade scope of works

The project misses vital opportunities to improve cycling connectivity.  Once the contractors have finished building the Warringah Freeway and Western Harbour Tunnel, it will be decades before the freeway will be disturbed again. The time to act is now.

Over the last 5 years, the political and strategic context has shifted significantly in favour of active transport. TfNSW has a mandate to review the Conditions of Consent, pause construction work if necessary and develop detailed designs that maximise the future outcomes for walking and cycling.

Bicycle NSW has written to the Transport and Roads ministers asking that continuous, safe strategic cycleways are a legacy of so much destruction in the area.

This is a golden opportunity for NSW Labor to correct the failure of the former government to priortise sustainable transport in its dealings with private motorway companies.

Bicycle NSW will continue working with Bike North and TfNSW on better outcomes along this key corridor. Please consider supporting our advocacy work on active transport infrastructure, both in North Sydney and across NSW, by joining the Bicycle NSW family today

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