From left: Chris Sparks, PDCN President; The Hon. Natalie Ward MLC; Minister for Roads and Maritime Services The Hon. Melinda Pavey MP; Mrs Daphe Dunn , Member for North Shore, The Hon Felicity Wilson

Wheelchair access from two lifts to the Sydney Harbour Bridge has opened. The two elevators, located at both the southern and northern ends, have a capacity for two wheelchairs, two carers and 27 passengers.

“There was a lot of support from the disability sector to make the bridge accessible for everyone,” NSW Minister for Roads and Maritime Services, Melinda Pavey said. “It was an expensive, but long overdue project. The plan was to have it ready for the Invictus Games and that was achieved so the timing of the opening was perfect.”

The minister said people with disability, prams or those who have difficulty climbing stairs will now have access to the iconic structure. Access to the bridge footpath was previously via 60 steps.

Srin Madipalli who leads accessibility work globally at Airbnb was visiting Sydney promoting the company’s accessibility initiatives. “We want to raise awareness of the opportunities for accessible travel in Australia,” he told F2L. “The elevators are quite a landmark project in terms of the work in making the bridge accessible and it is great to see Sydney being a trailblazer with this.” He found Sydney easy to get around and there were no issues finding good accommodation. “There is some great work happening here when it comes to accessibility.”

Physical Disability Council of NSW (PDCN) CEO, Serena Ovens, said the opening was a significant achievement. “Our members, multiple stakeholders, and the general public, all united their voices behind PDCN’s ‘Everybody’s Bridge’ campaign last year when it looked like the project might stall, showing just how critical and far reaching the need for step free access to the bridge truly is.”

PDCN president, Chris Sparks said with one in five people in NSW with a disability, and as the population ages this figure is likely to increase. “It is imperative we look to greater inclusive practices in all areas, be it tourism offerings to accessing public transport, shops and community spaces, enabling everyone to be fully included, contributing members of our society.”

Disability parking at the lift entrance is still being considered by the City of Sydney council, a spokesperson told F2L.

Caption: PDCN president Chris Sparks, MLC Natalie Ward, Minister for Roads and Maritime Services Melinda Pavey, war widow Daphne Dunne and MP for North Shore Felicity Wilson.