Image Credit : Simon Wood



Project Overview

The City of Sydney is committed to delivering innovative urban design projects that improve the quality of the public domain for residents, workers and visitors.

Sustainable Sydney 2030 is the City's plan to guide the development of Sydney. The Strategy responds to the community's desire for a more vibrant, cultural, lively and connected city, where the economy thrives, art and culture are encouraged and people feel connected to the local community.

A key objective is to make Sydney a cycling city with an ambitious target of 10% of all city trips being made by bicycle by 2021. To achieve this, social research showed a critical entry barrier to cycling was safe separation from traffic.

The Bourke Street cycleway forms part of an important seven-kilometre cycling corridor from the Green Square urban renewal precinct in the south to Sydney Harbour in the north. For most of its length the route is a bi-directional cycleway and separated from parking and traffic.

The facility is attracting new people to bike riding and through careful consideration of Bourke Street’s built and landscape heritage, the facility also provides a new appreciation of one of the great streets in Sydney’s inner east.

Project Commissioner

City of Sydney

Project Creator

City of Sydney with Pod (Group GSA) + GTA Consultants


City of Sydney

Design + Project Managers:
City Projects
Fiona Solomonides, Kerry Gallagher, Stephen Merchant, Adam Fowler, Chris Stevens.

Traffic Engineers (Head Consultant):
GTA Consultants
Dick van den Dool, Katherine McCray.

Landscape Architects:
Pod Landscape Architecture (Group GSA)
Steven Hammond, Kris Petersen, Yanos Fill-Dryden.

Civil Engineers:
Matt Richards, Peter Sutton.

Electrical Engineers:
Greg Dunk

Transport Consultant:
Sustainable Transport Consultants
Warren Salomon

Morris Goding

GMW Urban
Ford Civil Contractor
Sydney Civil Contractors.

Simon Wood

Project Brief

The challenge of the brief was to create a facility that is carefully retrofitted into the streetscape to ensure the amenity and functionality of the street was maintained and improved in many areas. Despite the rigorous consideration of technical issues in the design, the final result is refreshingly low key.

The design responds to the varying context along the corridor and a number of complex traffic issues encountered along the route. These included interfaces with complex intersections, laneways, pedestrian crossing, parking, access, loading zones, existing trees and drainage requirements.

The Bourke Street project forms a safe, convenient and sustainable cycling route linking into a larger network which will reduce road congestion, cut emissions and improve public health. The network will improve connections between employment, recreation and residential destinations to make cycling and attractive transport choice.

The design and implementation of the Bourke Street Cycleway has been supported by a comprehensive community consultation program. The City’s engagement with the community also included a broad-based and multithread education and awareness campaign, promoting cycling and safe behaviors of all road users.

Project Innovation / Need

Bourke Street is of one of the first large-scale, bi-directional, separated cycleways in Sydney.

It forms part of the Sydney Cycle Strategy which establishes a framework to increase cycle participation by providing separated cycleway and outlines a network of cycle routes through the City. The retrofitting of active transport facilities into a global city is challenging and at times, controversial.

The project required the development and careful selection of a range of cross-sectional street profiles to respond to site context, such as bus stops, mature street tree avenues, topography and heritage kerbs as well as access by pedestrians and decanting motorists. Innovative paved environment intersections were developed in partnership with the former Roads and Transport Authority to allow the safe interaction of pedestrians, bike riders and vehicles at street intersections.

Now complete, the Bourke Street Cycleway has been well received by the local community and the number of riders on the Bourke Street route has increased by 250%. The finished facility is an elegant solution that delivers multiple benefits and respects the urban context.

“We encourage our children to walk and ride to school. It’s good for their health and the health of the environment. Riding to school also goes some way toward the recommended minimum 60 minutes of daily exercise, sets up good habits for life and can prevent obesity and diabetes.”
Peter Johnston, Principal
Bourke Street Public School

Design Challenge

The cycleway is responsive to the varying context along the corridor. It uses a suite of varying separated profiles, facility typologies and intersection solutions.

The profile of the cycleway; the bidirectional cycleway scheme, is a solution to the problem of retrofitting separated facilities within Sydney’s relatively narrow 12.8m typical street profile. By harvesting excess space out of the road corridor, a safe space can be created for cycling that retains parking both sides of the street in most circumstances.

The profile subtly adjusts its form along the length of Bourke Street to ensure the existing street uses and amenities are enhanced and maintained. The route also includes shared paths to ensure continuous connections for cyclists while responding to the changes in the urban context and opportunity.

The resulting complexity at intersections has been resolved with a hierarchy of treatments.
Minor laneways have been converted to driveway crossovers and paved intersections that create a shared environment with pedestrian priority.
More significant unsignalised intersections integrate marked pedestrian crossings with cycleway “bendouts” that result in continued cycling priority across these intersections and safe places for cars to store while giving way.
Finally, signalised intersections provide periodic priority with separate cycle lantern phasing. These intersections required extensive modelling of the traffic functions to achieve project approval.

The selection of materials, pavements and plantings vary along the corridor to respond to the character and condition of the different precincts. The extensive modification to stormwater infrastructure was used as an opportunity treat water in rain gardens.


The project stems from a considered engagement process undertaken by the City of Sydney. As an integral part of the Sustainable Sydney 2030 strategy, the development of active transport facilities helps to address the multiple issues of accessibility, carbon emissions and public health. And as an early implementation project under this strategy, the design needed to demonstrate that these objectives could be met without impacting existing values.

The facility is design with capacity for significant growth in cycling demand. Ultimately, the City’s cycling network will be highly connected and fine grained to ensure that cycling connects everyone in the community to every destination.

The gardens installed initially to create landscape buffers between the footpath and cycleway have been embraced by the community. Throughout the corridor, they are being adopted, nurtured and are evolving to express the horticultural, culinary and ecological interests of the Bourke Street community.

The design solution is fundamentally sustainable, utilising the strategy of retro-fit to demonstrate that brown infrastructure can be transformed to green. The expression of the design is also green, with new, permeable paving, stormwater harvesting and treatment extensive new plantings, and retained canopy.

This award recognises the use of practical, aesthetic, horticultural, and environmental sustainability components, taking into account climate, site and orientation, site drainage and irrigation, human and vehicular access, furnishings and lighting.
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