As a stakeholder in Sydney’s future transport arrangements, particularly as they relate to suburbs and networks on the northern side of Sydney Harbour, Bike North has examined the proposals and ideas put forward in the “Draft Future Transport Strategy 2056” and its companion report “The Draft Greater Sydney Services and Infrastructure Plan”.

Bike North is one of Sydney’s largest bicycle user groups and is closely affiliated with Bicycle New South Wales. We are vitally interested in promoting the bicycle as a realistic transport option for people wishing to travel over shorter distances within Sydney and we view the bicycle not only as a significant alleviator of Sydney’s traffic problems but also as a significant improver of people’s health and well-being.

We agree with the basic premise expressed in these reports that transport is a major enabler of all economic and social activity in our State and contributes to long term economic, social and environmental outcomes. We support the goal outlined in the  Future Transport document to transform the customer experience, improve the communities, and boost the economic performance of people on the move in Sydney and NSW. The notion of the ’30 minute city’ is also consistent with our own ideals of how cities should be organised and connected.

However, if bicycle transport is going to be seriously employed to help achieve the goals outlined in the Future Transport document, Bike North has two major concerns about the methodology being employed.

Firstly, it is critical that corridors for the major cycling network routes are defined and quarantined now otherwise they will be built out by other public infrastructure and/or private developments. What has been outlined in the documents as potential cycling  corridors are still far too nebulous.

Secondly, but equally as important, the timeframes for rolling out the principal bicycle networks are too long. Local Councils need to know within 2-3 years what their local bicycle networks will have to feed into so that they are appropriately planned and built because they too are managing the population influx into their areas whose housing, living and transport needs have to be accommodated now not planned for 40 years hence.

We all agree on what type of cycleways are needed in terms of their separation from traffic, gradient etc but when they are built and where are far more urgent problems than the Future Transport reports indicate and which need to be addressed as soon as possible for the following reasons.

When to build the cycleways/timelines

Bike North has grave concerns about the timeframes for the roll out of the PBN. The pace of development in Sydney now is such that the road and rail infrastructure projects are highly likely to crowd out the available transport corridors unless those proportions of them required for separated bicycle paths are defined and reserved for future construction. The idea that the PBN can be worked out and retrofitted in 40 years time after these other mammoth infrastructure projects have been completed or begun will simply not deliver Future Transport’s stated goals. The PBN needs to be delivered in no more than a 10-15 year plan.

The only acceptable 40 year visionary plan is for all regional and local connector roads (where the applicable speeds are 50 kph or over) to have separated bicycle infrastructure and for all local road networks where 40 kph limits apply to be environments where walking and riding bikes take priority over motor vehicles - an environment where cars are guests. 

Where to put the cycleways

There is no doubt that technology will bring significant change as acknowledged by the Future Transport documents,  but active transport will be constant. People will always walk, and they will always need a more efficient and speedier form of active personal mobility. The bicycle is the most efficient form of transport for the under 10km journey and it is also healthy and sustainable. Riding a bike is doable for a large proportion of the community and the takeup of the e-bike will make these and longer journeys possible for even more people. The mobility scooter which provides personal mobility for many other people, is destined to grow exponentially as our community ages.  There is no doubt that a complete top quality network for bikes and other personal mobility, separated from motor vehicles and separate from a top quality walking network is required ASAP, not in Forty years.

 While we applaud the intention to develop the Principal Bicycle Network (PBN), creating the vital links between Strategic and Major Centres, Bike North has great concerns about the stated intention to channel much of this network through ‘green links’. This approach strongly implies opportunistic development of a network rather than a serious attempt to develop the needed connections between centres along the corridors where they will get greatest use.

Green links are important and they can provide some excellent cycling links, but no city wide bicycle network can rely only on green links alone.  Furthermore, green links are often located in more difficult terrain and will not always follow the most direct and convenient route that people will want to use to access services, work or recreation. We also have great concerns at the bicycle network map representation which is claimed to show 10km catchments around CBD centres and 5km Strategic Centres. These are in no way representative of 10km catchments but fall far short. The maps are very difficult to read clearly and for the record Bike North sets out here what our priorities are for the establishment of PBN routes in our area of northern Sydney:- 

Lower North Shore PBN Bike Routes

The Lower North Shore falls within the 10km CBD Metro catchment and also within the Inner Sydney Regional Bike Plan which is an initiative on the Australian Government Infrastructure Priority List.  It also includes the 5km catchment for the Chatswood Strategic Centre. The critical PBN type bike routes for development on the Lower North Shore which we consider necessary are:

·        North Shore Cycleway – connecting Sydney Harbour Bridge Cycleway to Naremburn where it connects with the ‘Naremburn to North Ryde Cycleway’

·        Northern Route from Artarmon on the ‘Naremburn to North Ryde Cycleway’ towards and past Chatswood and to Roseville / Lindfield

·        Western Route from Lane Cove on the  ‘Naremburn to North Ryde Cycleway’  towards Hunters Hill / Gladesville via Burns Bay Road and bridges

·        Eastern Route from Chatswood to Forestville via Ku-ring-gai and Roseville Bridge

·        Eastern Route from North Sydney to Spit Junction and Balgowlah


Priority Route 1: North Shore Cycleway – connecting Sydney Harbour Bridge Cycleway to Naremburn to connect with the ‘Naremburn to North Ryde Cycleway’

This route is long overdue. It is ten years since the Naremburn to North Ryde Cycleway was completed.  This terminated with bike riders left in the middle of the motorway. Bike North has viewed a number of potential designs since then which needed further improvement. Yet, ten years on, there still has been nothing produced for public comment to provide a safe route from Naremburn towards North Sydney  and Milsons Point/Kirribilli.  This route should be included on Figure 38 of the Greater Sydney Services and Infrastructure Plan and listed under the Committee initiatives. The design and development of this route should be fast tracked for completion within four years.

Priority Route 2: Northern Route from Artarmon on the ‘Naremburn to North Ryde Cycleway’ towards and past Chatswood and to Roseville / Lindfield

There are reasonable elements of this route already in place but improvements are needed to provide a continuous route towards Chatswood.  The critical section of this route is to provide a continuous and safe route through the Chatswood CBD towards Boundary Road and into the Ku-ring-gai suburbs of Roseville and Lindfield. The most important infrastructure that is required on this route is a grade separated bridge over Boundary Road at the railway line and utilising railway easement to the north and south of that bridge. Investigation, feasibility and concept design is required now to ensure land is made available. This route appears on Figure 39 For Investigation 0-10 years of the Greater Sydney Services and Infrastructure Plan as a major route connecting centres.

Priority Route 3: Western Route from ‘Naremburn to North Ryde Cycleway’ at Lane Cove towards Hunters Hill / Gladesville via Burns Bay Road and bridges

Concept designs for a regional bike route along this corridor were developed nearly two decades ago. Through development opportunities Lane Cove Council has upgraded sections of this route along Burns Bay Road to shared path status. This route is within the 10km catchment of the Harbour CBD and the 5km catchment of North Sydney and Chatswood Strategic Centres. It is an important connector between North Sydney, Chatswood and Lane Cove on the Lower North Shore and Hunters Hill / Gladesville and Ryde to the south of the Parramatta River.  Major improvements to this route, especially on the approaches to/from Fig Tree Bridge, the bridge crossing, connections to Hunters Hill and access to Gladesville Bridge need to be investigated, designed and staged over the next ten years. This route connects to the proposed bike route between Olympic Park and the Harbour CBD and should be shown on Figure 39 For Investigation 0-10 years of the Greater Sydney Services and Infrastructure Plan as a route between  St Leonards (approximately) and that route at a Gladesville connection to the west of Balmain.

Priority Route 4: Eastern Route from Chatswood to Forestville via Ku-ring-gai and Roseville Bridge

Investigation and design for route opportunities through Willoughby and Ku-ring-gai with upgrades to the Roseville Bridge shared path and connections, including improvements to the shared path on Warringah side of Roseville Bridge. This appears on Figure 39 For Investigation 0-10 years of the Greater Sydney Services and Infrastructure Plan as a major route connecting centres connecting Chatswood and Frenches Forest.

Elsewhere in the north of Sydney, Bike North’s PBN priorities include:-

  • completion of the western end of the Epping Road Cycleway
  • establishment of a connecting cycleway between Epping and Hornsby
  • establishment of a connecting cycleway between Epping and Carlingford 
  • establishment of a connecting cycleway between Castle Hill/Norwest and Parramatta and Carlingford and Parramatta

Bike North asks that our views on these matters receive your most serious consideration.