Using roads, bridges and other structures for non-traffic activities

Transport for NSW (TfNSW) endeavours to support community access to bridges, roads and other structures. However there are conditions and permission is required.

Closing a road for an event or activity

If you want to close part or all of a bridge or road for an event or activity, you will require a licence. Depending on the type of road and the type of activity, you may need to seek special permission from a number of agencies and councils.

Road Occupancy Licence

A Road Occupancy Licence is required for any activity likely to impact on the traffic flow, even if that activity takes place off-road. Examples include:

  • road maintenance activities (linemarking, resurfacing etc)
  • lane closures around building sites for safety reasons or to move equipment such as cranes to or from the site
  • filming activities that require lane or road closures, or from an adjacent vehicle
  • grass cutting along median strip requiring a lane or the road shoulder to be closed for safety.

If your event or activity falls into any of these categories, you need to apply for the Road Occupancy Licence. You should also read the Road Occupancy Manual (PDF, 707.92 KB).  

Special events

A special event in traffic management terms is any planned activity that is wholly or partly conducted on a road, requires multiple agency involvement, requires special traffic management arrangements, and may involve large numbers of participants and/or spectators.

Examples include:

  • marathons
  • fun runs
  • cycling events
  • parades
  • marches
  • street market days.

The definition also applies to events conducted in their own venue if the event requires special traffic management arrangements and multiple agency support.

For more information, see Event management guidelines.

Neighbourhood activities

Under s.144 of the Roads Act 1993, councils can issue road event permits for neighbourhood activities such as local street barbecues, social gatherings, street parties, and other non-commercial events on local streets organised by nearby residents.

These neighbourhood activities (as defined in cl.79 of the Roads Regulation 2018) do not require any approvals or referrals from Transport.

For more information, please visit our Permits for neighbourhood activities page.

Filming on a bridge or road

If you want to film on a road or a bridge, either from an adjacent vehicle, or on closed lanes or roads, you need to apply for a Road Occupancy Licence. Filming may also be considered a special event - this will be determined from your application.

Shining colours or images onto a bridge or other structure

Requests to project images or coloured lights onto a bridge or other structure will be considered a special event.

Please note that heritage bridges and assets, such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, are subject to special rules.

Hanging banners on bridges and overpasses

Transport proudly supports community services and road safety by permitting the display of banners on selected bridges over certain roads.

See Hanging banners on bridges for more information.

Fishing from, jumping from, or climbing on a bridge

Transport has a duty of care to protect the general public from the risk of harm that may come from fishing from, jumping from, or climbing on bridges, and so in general terms these activities are prohibited.

If these prohibited activities are known to occur on a specific bridge, we will assess the site in accordance with the Control of fishing, jumping or climbing from or on bridges policy, and identify appropriate treatments, such as warning signs or physical control measures (such as fences, screens, barbed wire etc) if necessary. If required, TfNSW will also liaise with the police, local government and other agencies regarding enforcement and education activities.

Heritage bridges and assets

Special rules apply to the use of heritage bridges and assets, such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Gladesville Bridge.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

TfNSW manages the Sydney Harbour Bridge in line with the Sydney Harbour Bridge Conservation Management Plan.

Under this plan, any proposed changes or uses of the bridge must be considered in terms of the impact on the cultural heritage values of the bridge as a whole, as well as any operational or security requirements (see Policy 19, page 99).

The bridge may be used for selected displays, banners and fireworks where these are relevant to the community at large, and where the theme is not detrimental to the cultural heritage significance of the bridge (see Policy 22, page 100).

Any display, banner or fireworks attached to the bridge should not damage it, nor compromise the basic form and geometry of the bridge. Anything attached to the bridge should be for a defined time period, and be fully reversible (Policy 22, page 100).

The bridge, including the arch, pylons, approach spans and approaches, should not be used for commercial advertising in any form, including signage (Policy 25, page 101).

You will need to submit a Permit application - non-development and special event activities to the Transport Management Centre.

Variable message signs

Variable message signs (VMS) are not available for community messaging. Only TfNSW and the police may place messages on VMS.