Sydney Airport


Mon 22 September 2014

We’ve updated our article below to reflect our submission to Sydney Airport’s draft Transport Plan for the T2 and T3 Domestic Terminals precinct.

If you don’t have time, please just send the following email to (by midnight Mon 22 Sept 2014):

“I support BIKESydney’s submission calling for Sydney Airport’s Preliminary draft Major Development Plan to be revised to include safe, direct, connected and integrated cycling infrastructure for Sydney Airport.  Sydney Airport staff and users should be able to ride to, from and around the airport safely away from motorised vehicle traffic. Please revise the Plan to include connected cycleways, bike parking and end of trip facilities (eg, showers, lockers, bike repair stands).”


[Even better if you can develop your email with some of the points made below and/or your own personal experiences.]


Sat 6 September 2014

We’re currently framing our submission to the Sydney Airport Preliminary draft Major Development Plan (pdMDP). (Huh? Essentially, Sydney Airport’s ground transport plan for the Domestic Terminals precinct. The International Terminal precinct is handled in a separate process.)

We’re crowdsourcing our advocacy effort. More minds, more ideas, better cycling outcomes. As you can see, the draft submission is in a raw state. We’re getting all “transparent” to encourage your participation. Improve our draft submission (below). Add your comments below.  And certainly make offers of copy, editorial or graphical artistry assistance (email  We’ll tally up just ahead of finalising our submission.




Let’s get this clear, airports are a business model for retail, office and in particular car parking revenues.  However, Sydney Airport and its future business partners will be aware that such revenues will be drawn largely from long-term parkers, not workers who travel to and from the airport every day.  Providing for walking and cycling will not threaten these revenue streams.  As outlined below, there are great economic, access, health, brand and, indisputably, transport benefits to be achieved by properly integrating cycling into Sydney Airport’s Preliminary draft Major Development Plan (for convenience, we’ll refer to it here as Sydney Airport’s draft “Transport Plan“).

Sydney Airport employs 28,000 workers.  Arriving by car (parking fees) or train (station access fee!) is not a viable option for many, and certainly not for the airport’s shift workers.  Many people (employees and passengers) are walking the long and dangerous (many intersections) walk to the airport from Mascot Station to avoid the station access fee.  Further, the airport is situated a rideable distance (10km) from the city and a large number of residential precincts.

Providing for cycling at the airport would bring many benefits AND will be easy to achieve!

Key themes to a successful uptake are providing safe, connected, direct and integrated cycleways that deliver riders right to their destinations (not 1km away), adequate, secure bike parking and end-of-trip facilities (eg, showers and lockers).


Matching the Plan’s Actions to its Goals

The Transport Plan very clearly asserts that it wants to develop active transport.  It explicitly mentions (several times) that it wants to improve safety and access for cycling.  Yet the plan falls short in articulating a viable vision or action plan for achieving these goals.  What is required is a safe and connected internal cycling network that delivers riders to – if not into – their destination and which is well supported by high quality parking and facilities.  In contrast, the Transport Plan proposes an isolated cycleway separated from a undersized bicycle parking station that could be accessed only by riding on footpaths or attempting to cross an uninterrupted five-lane road carrying fast-moving motor vehicle traffic.


Benefits to (properly) integrating cycling into the Transport Plan?

Sydney Airport is one of the largest trip generators in central Sydney.  Done well, significant mode shift onto bikes is possible: 10% of trips by staff is achievable.  The Transport Plan is a big opportunity to create transport capacity, but to do this, it needs to express mode-share targets for cycling.

Provisioning for cycling will benefit employees (a good many of whom live within a rideable 10km of the airport, and particularly shift workers for whom public transport is non-existent late in early morning hours), passengers and surrounding businesses (as employees can then spend in the local area that otherwise they haven’t time to walk to during lunch breaks).  The benefits include:

  • increased productivity;
  • easing traffic congestion – which will become increasingly important to the proper functioning of the airport in the next decade, particularly once the WestConnex road network is active;
  • reducing pollution and carbon emissions;
  • improving urban amenity and social wellbeing;
  • reducing chronic disease and obesity;
  • improving accessibility;
  • enhancing the attractiveness of Sydney Airport as an employer, and
  • improving trip reliability for air passengers (itself something that would encourage people to travel to the airport by bicycle, and a benefit that would save airline staff much stress by reducing the number of late arriving passengers).


Airport Bike Plan – Cycling is a Transport Opportunity

Simply, now that cycling is not only a viable, but prospering transport option, the Transport Plan must include a Cycling Plan to guide the the cycling network and provisioning into the future.


Mode Share Targets?

The Transport Plan doesn’t enunciate existing, projected and aspirational cycling trip generation and mode-share goals. This is unacceptable for a major infrastructure development. The updated Transport Plan MUST enunciate these goals.

A goal of 5% of all employee trips (consistent with the State Govt’s goals) would be a reasonable starting point:

5% of 28,000 workers = 1,400 people cycling to the airport each day  …and that’s before counting bike trips by domestic passengers, many of whom are already carrying minimal luggage (eg, just a backpack) onto short haul domestic flights.

This goal should be increased into the future to at least 10%.

The 2009 Airport Masterplan indicates that the existing cycling mode share is less than 1%.  The State Government’s goal (NSW 2021) has set a target of 5%.


Target Riding Market

With Mode Share targets set, the Plan then must enunciate an analysis of the existing and potential riding “market”.  The Plan should ask: “Given a good cycling network and facilities, where will they ride from?”,  “Along which corridors will they access the airport grounds?” and “For what purpose (work, tourism) will they ride?” etc.   From this the Plan would identify cycling catchments and opportunities and desire lines (discussed below) in order to better inform its internal cycling network and facilities.


Quantum of Bike Parking proposed should be increased. It’s far too low

The Transport Plan proposes a quantum of bike parking of only 30 bike parking spaces.  This will grossly under-service the existing and future demand. Presently, there are approx 28,000 employees at the airport, 150,000 people travel to the airport every DAY; and in 2033, it’s expected that the airport will transfer 74.3million passengers, a good many of which will be “walk up” domestic passengers carrying nothing more than a backpack.   This will generate significant bike parking demand.

The airport’s starting mode share target should be no less than 5% (but increase in future).  With 28,000 workers, this equates to a number well more than 30 bike parking spaces.  The Transport Plan must increase the quantum of bike parking.

Further, there is no indication that the quantum of bike parking proposed (30 spots) can scale up as future demand will require of it.  The Transport Plan should enunciate a strategy that indicates how the parking quantum will be increased (and not state merely that it “could” be increased).


Location of Bike Parking is too far removed from Destinations

The location proposed for the bike parking station is very poor, located approx 7-10 minute walk away from the T2/T3 terminals.  Riders will instead ride right up to their destination.  They will not park their bike so that then have to walk another 10 minutes.  As such, a great many bikes will be parked at railings (as they are now) and outside work places bringing clutter and consequently bringing pressure to building managers to find in-house parking.  Bike parking should be located at, and ideally within, destination buildings.  To this end, the Transport Plan needs to articulate demand and trip maps as explained below.


2014-09-22 - Bikes on railings


Analyse Trip Demand, Catchments and Journey Routes

The Transport Plan documentation needs to include maps showing the airport’s internal cycling trip destinations (ie, the offices and workareas of the 28,000 workers) and external cycling catchments and riding desire lines riders to the airport. The Transport Plan must necessarily identify and address the cues provided by the wider cycling network, and in particular, connections to/from the existing Cooks River, Bourke St/Rd (Mascot) and Wentworth Ave cycleways.  Even though these external links do not fall within Sydney Airport grounds (although the easement to the northern side of Joyce Drive does) knowing these corridors will cue where cycling provisioning within Sydney Airport should be provided.


End of Trip facilities

The Transport Plan must provide for and identify locations for secure parking, lockers, showers and bike repair stands.  These factors are big determinants of the success of a cycling strategy for the Airport grounds.  Such facilities provide significant amenity for employees (many of whom live an easy ride distance from the airport) and particularly shift workers for whom showers and lockers open up the possibility to ride to work.


An Internal Network of Cycling paths that connect to Destinations

The Transport Plan fails to provide a coherent cycling network both internal to the airport grounds and on lands outside of the airport which Sydney Airport controls (eg, north side of Joyce Drive east of O’Riordan St).

The most basic responsibility of an infrastructure project of this scale is to provide a safe and connected cycling network on all lands Sydney Airport controls and to cue the development of safe cycling routes external to its lands.  Figure 4.7 of the Transport Plan shows the proposed cycleway provisioning to be “anemic”, disjointed and piecemeal.


Figure 4.7 - Proposed Cycling Netwrok

 The only cycleable path (shared path) within the airport grounds is shown in dark blue.
The red rectangle indicates the proposed bike parking location


The main drivers of the proposed cycling network should be safety and connectivity. The current proposal achieves neither of these goals.  The Transport Plan should provide safe, rideable paths from the airport boundary to internal destinations, not merely somewhere near them. For example, there is no way for riders to legally connect to the bike parking proposed. They will have to attempt a “chicken-run” across a 5-lane(!) mid-block section of fast, free-flowing traffic seeking to “beat the lights” to connect from the proposed cycle path on the western side of Seventh Street Extension to the proposed bike parking station within the Ground Transport Interchange.  A highly dangerous proposition.


Regional Cycling Links (that DO sit on Sydney Airport lands)

Regional cycling links connecting the existing “stub” paths that approach (but don’t connect to) the airport from its eastern, northern and western sides can and will only be enabled (actuated) by the Airport’s Transport Plan including its associated Westconnex Enabling works.  This opportunity is vital to the productivity of Sydney and NSW.

The State Govt’s own Sydney’s Cycling Future vision mandates that these cycling corridors be developed.  The Sydney Airport upgrade has a responsibility to provide these links.

Even once costed, including these cycling links will present positive economic benefits (productivity, health, spend) to both the region and to Sydney Airport.

The Transport Plan ignores a major responsibility to provide a cycling path to the north side of Joyce Drive, east of O’Riordan St.  This path will significantly determine viability and effectiveness of the cycling network in the area. This route is signalled as part of the State Government’s Sydney Cycling Future network plan.  This is land controlled by Sydney Airport (see Fig 4.7) and must necessarily be developed as a regional cycling route.  This is the project to deliver that facility.  Other sections of this same route must be provided by the Westconnex Enabling Works – Airport East.  Further, while not on their lands, Sydney Airport could deliver significant cycling amenity by encouraging CaterAir and other nearby landowners to facilitate early completion of the Alexandra Canal cycleway route (which would not impact businesses given that the route passes to the rear of buildings on those lands).


2014-09-22 - Sydney's Cycling Future - Airport

 Transport for NSW’s Vision document “Sydney’s Cycling Future”
mandates cycling links to and around the airport.


Role of the Associated WestConnex (Airport East) Enabling Works in providing for regional cycling links

Providing a safe, off-road, connected crossing of the WestConnex Enabling works (an significant upgrade of the Wentworth Ave/ Botany Road intersection) will be critical to serving the Airport’s cycling mode-share targets (once developed).  BIKESydney has provided the detail on how this could be achieved to the senior personnel of the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS).  While these works fall outside of the scope of the Transport Plan, the Transport Plan’s cycling provisioning must coordinate with this initiative.


Safe Intersection Design and Crossing Times are crucial to safe cycling

Traffic modelling of the precinct will be the primary determinant of the quality of the cycling provisioning within the precinct.  There is insufficient detail provided around the traffic modelling used to justify the transport design.  In an project of such high public significance, the Transport Plan must reveal the traffic and signal modelling for intersection crossings relevant to riders and pedestrians.  Such users are likely to have only one opportunity to cross into the airport grounds – itself, an unacceptable outcome – and so must be well provided for.  The key issues here are to ensure enough, and regular “green time” at traffic signals. The traffic modelling should be required to factor the projected number of future pedestrian and cycling trips (given a connected cycling network) and enunciate the Level of Service (LoS) for pedestrians and cyclists. We note that the recent introduction of a cap of the train station access fee at $21/week will still force many employees to walk and cycle to the airport from Mascot Station.


Assessment of the Plan’s Regional Traffic Impacts

There is insufficient assessment in the Transport Plan of regional traffic and urban development impacts.  What is the Plan’s interaction with nearby large-scale urban developments such as Green Square) which will significantly increase the number of people who live and work in the region? How will these people connect to the airport? Specifically, what active transport options will be provided them by the Transport Plan.


Internal Bike Share Scheme

Bicycles and trikes would provide a great option for trips within the airport grounds and even within terminals.

The Transport Plan should identify how many internal trips (within airport grounds and within terminals) could be converted to trips by bicycle.  The Transport Plan should also identify light freight movements that could be serviced by cargo bikes.  This analysis would underpin the case for an internal bike share scheme which would bring productivity and decongestion benefits in particular.  By way of example, Heathrow Airport has included bicycle trips within its airport terminals for the benefit of passenger safety.


2014-09-22 - Bikes used in Heathrow Terminals



Cycling in a liveable Sydney


Phone:+ 61 2 8213 2437

PO Box M59 Missenden Road, Camperdown, NSW, 2050

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