101: Electric Bike Laws & Road Rules Australia
Electric bikes; a revolution in the cycling world,
Getting on an electric bike in Australia is like entering a new world. That is what most electric bike riders would agree on. Here’s the interesting fact, no matter what we do and what we need an e-bike for, it somehow changes our way of life around the town. You might be the businessman who wants to commute clean, or the casual bike rider who wants to go fast enough without having to burn much, or the one who has decided to go sportive and start fresh or even the most professional bike rider who wants to get the craziest vigorous ride…Whoever you are, one way or another, your new e-bike will revolutionize your ride.
Now here in Australia the popularity of electric bikes is on the surge and Australian cities are becoming more e-bike-friendly one by one mostly because cycling on an electric bike is a perfect way to exercise, commute, socialize, work and even travel across a great country like Australia.
But here’s the thing, while riding an e-bike, you will definitely start asking yourself:
“Am I equipped enough to hit the road on an adventure ride in Oxley Hills, New South Wales?”,
“Do I really need a helmet in Highfields, Queensland?”,
“Is there such thing as an e-bike licence in Melbourne, Victoria?”,
“How necessary is a tail light in Sydney?”,
“Can I carry my child on my bike to West Beach, South Australia?”,
“How much cargo can I carry on my e-bike in Perth, Western Australia?”
And a lot more questions of the same kind…
But one thing for sure is that you should not act upon your assumptions. Ignoring rules can get you in serious trouble where and when you cannot even imagine.
So…our suggestion: Read the guide here to make sure what rules are applied in each state. Make sure what is OK in your location and what is not. After all, getting on roads of Australia with a bike that runs just as any other vehicle with a motor, you should know what your rights are. You don’t want to be caught, fined or even claimed faulty when you are not actually doing it wrong.
Remember, most e-bike rules are more or less the same all across Australia. Yet, there are few rules which might vary from state to state. The reason is different city structures and traffic density. In some Australian cities, the flow of traffic is usually more packed than others.
Take Sydney as an example where the rush hour is usually dense. So obviously there have to be more clear or even strict rules regarding the use of e-bikes in Sydney rather than less populated cities where e-bike riders don’t have to duck and weave through traffic.
So, as an e-bike rider or even someone who is considering e-bikes as a future way of getting around, it would definitely be a great idea to know what is expected from you in roads of Australia and your state and city specifically.
We’ve put together this handy guide to electric bike laws Australia in each state and territory. So read on to find out how you can stay safe and legal if you’re riding (or thinking about riding) in these areas.
E-bike Rules and Regulations in Australia
(pedal assist electric bike laws Australia 2022)
Australia is one of the most e-bike friendly countries considering the city structures, specified cycling paths and all the rules and regulations that keep the cycling flow in order in big cities like Sydney and Melbourne.
In fact, motorized bicycles (e-bikes) are a great way to get around here. They’re convenient, fun, environmentally friendly and you don’t have to pay for petrol!
But electric bikes are relatively new to the market, so it’s understandable that people are a little confused about what’s legal and what isn’t. Here’s a quick rundown of the rules for E-bikes all across Australia:
- How fast can we go?
Actually, what we are asking is “What is the maximum speed an e-bike should be designed to go at?”
It was in 2012 when the law was updated to bring Australia aligned with world standards, deciding that it is legal to ride low-powered electric bicycles with an electric motor and a maximum output of 250 watts, which is activated while pedaling at maximum speed of 25km/h.
The thing is you can still go faster, but once reaching the maximum speed of 25 km/h, the motor has to stop working. Of course you can carry on pedaling and speed up but without the motor assisting it.
- What are Australia ebike helmet laws?
A secure helmet is exactly what can protect you and your passenger from head injuries and brain damages in falls and crashes. The Road Rules all over Australia clearly state that as an e-bike rider you MUST wear an approved safety helmet securely fitted and fastened.
Now you must be asking: “What is meant by an approved helmet?”
Simply, it is a helmet with a label certifying it meets the Australian standard. Helmets manufactured after 2011 must have an identifying mark showing compliance with the standard.
Remember that even your passenger will not be spared in this if you are carrying any. So if either you or your passenger are caught without helmets, it will most probably result in a fine.
- Be sure to have both front and tail lights
There are rules for lights on e-bikes in Australia, and it’s pretty simple: You need a white front light and a red back light. Not to mention that the lights must work! Remember that a broken light is only as good as no light at all and if you are caught with lights off (when they are supposed to be on) you will probably be fined around $50 more or less.
- You can ride an electric bike without a licence in Australia if …
You do not need to have a licence to ride an electric bike which is designed to run at maximum speed of 25 km/h, (also known as Pedelec or low-powered e-bike) though in some states like New South Wales you are required to get your new bike registered before getting on the road.
However, if your bike is capable of reaching speeds higher than 25 km/h , licence is absolutely needed.
- Do police check electric bikes?
You might have seen cyclists with under-equipped bikes, cycling on footpaths, riding on high speed to keep up with cars in traffic flow and doing a lot more against the law, while they were able to neatly get away with it without getting noticed by police. But we can reassure you, if the police feels right about it or if the officer is simply having a bad day he can catch you on the spot and fine you. And trust us… it is worth neither the fine nor the danger and trouble that ignoring rules can cause.
General Cycling Rules in Australia
We just had an overview on power assisted bicycles laws in Australia. Now, some rules for electric bikes are basically the same as for non-electric ones. That means you should still obey road signs and signals and keep an eye out for pedestrians. And there’s more to that, so let’s read on:
Hand Signals – Make sure you can use hand signals properly to let other vehicles know you’re taking a turn, slowing down, giving way or stopping. Just be sure to use signals which are standard and defined.
Cycling Abreast – You and your cycling partner can be riding only 1.5 meters apart from each other or else you cannot ride abreast. Remember that more than two bikes cannot be side-by-side unless the third rider intends on overtaking the other two.
Bus Lanes – E-bikes and bicycles can run on bus lanes or tram lanes but you need to be extra cautious not to try to overtake the bus or tram while it is trying to merge back into traffic from a full stop.
Am I allowed to get on footpaths with my e-bike?
As an electric bike rider, you are absolutely not allowed to get on footpaths and the rule applies to all Australian states and cities. Always remember, footpaths can cause a lot of risks for you and pedestrians so it is strongly advised that you stay away from footpaths just to be on the safe side and keep away from trouble.
Shared Paths – However, in some states like NSW, you might find shared paths which can be used by both pedestrians and bike riders. But it is important that you and your bike keep to the left and give way to walking people.
Bicycle Lanes – Here in Australia, you can find bike lanes in almost every state and locality. So it would be wise to stay in the bike lane as long as the lane stretches. Try not to get on the road with other cars and vehicles if a bike lane is available. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to know that any vehicles rather than bikes cannot use your bike lane for more than 50 meters.
Traffic Light – Never assume that red traffic light is for cars and bigger vehicles only. Always stop at a red light unless there is a bicycle traffic light which is green. If for any reason you run the red light, you can be fined up to $300.
E-bike Rules in Australian States
States of Australia law electric bike regulation
As mentioned, e-bike rules can be more or less the same in every state of Australia. However, some cities and states have more traffic than others, so there may be additional rules for electric bike riders. For example, in a city like Perth, Western Australia, you may feel more confident and safer to use a shared path with cars and pedestrians than in a densely populated city like Melbourne.
The rules mentioned above are like more than %95 of what you are supposed to know. But if you are in a populated state of Australia such as New South Wales, Victoria or Queensland, we suggest that you read the guide below. Some of these rules might have already been pointed out, but we will refresh your memory just to remind how important they are:
E-bike riding in Victoria:
Melbourne has a reputation for being an e-bike-friendly city in Australia, and now that electric bikes are becoming more popular, it’s only going to get better.
The electric bike rules in Victoria State may differ slightly to the rules in other states such as NSW or Queensland. In fact, Victoria has the strictest rules in the country on electric bikes. The state government is considering a review to bring them into line with other states. Let’s see what these rules are:
- First of all, if you are a Victorian resident who wants an electric bike with a pedal assist system, you must register it as a motorbike and get a licence for it.
- In Victoria your e-bike must have a white front lamp, a rear red reflector, and side reflectors (these are usually on the pedals). You must also have a bike bell (which works by the way) and rear-vision mirrors.
- Just like other states, in Victoria also riders must wear proper helmets when riding on roads, bike paths or shared walkways. Helmets need to be securely fastened and fitted. Being caught without a helmet in the state of Victoria you might get fined around $310.
- Bikes must be registered with VicRoads if they weigh more than 20kg or include an internal combustion engine
- You will not be allowed to ride on pedestrian footpaths. If you do, you can be fined for that!
- Remember that you are allowed to use your phone only if you are either making or receiving a phone call. Do not use your phone’s GPS while riding unless you are using a GPS holder attached to your bike. Do that if you don’t want to be fined more than $400!
- Keep in mind that you and your cycling buddy can ride next to one other on any road provided that you two are not more than 1.5 meters apart. More important than that, do not ride next to more than one other cyclist (unless overtaking).
- You must have noticed that non-electric bicycles also are subjected to some of these rules. One more of these rules is that while in a bus lane, always keep to the left of the lane, give way to buses and trams at all times and of course do not overtake a bus or a tram. Always wait behind if they are coming to a stop.
Recently, the Victorian government has introduced new regulations for electric bikes. The new rules, which came into effect on 1 July, replace the previous laws that limited e-bikes to a top speed of 250W and 25km/h.
Under the new laws, there are two different categories of electric bike:
- E-bikes that have a pedal assistance system that stops working at the speed of 25km/h are known as an EAPC (electrically assisted pedal cycle). These bikes can be ridden by anyone over 16 years of age. They do not need to be registered or have insurance and you do not need a licence to ride them.
- E-bikes that are capable of speeds above 25km/h are known as power-assisted bicycles. These e-bikes can only be ridden by people over 18 years of age and require registration, insurance and a rider licence.
If you are in Queensland…
In Queensland, electric bikes are an interesting alternative for urban mobility and e-bike laws in this state are pretty simple to follow once you’re aware of them. As a Queenslander, you may already be familiar with these rules. If not, we’ll walk you through it!
- First of all, you must be over 16 to operate an electric bike in Queensland. Riders aged 16 and under are not allowed to ride without supervision.
- In Queensland, you must have a white front lamp, a rear red reflector, side reflectors (usually on the wheels), and a bell or horn.
- The bike motor power output must not exceed 200 watts, and your bike maximum speed must be 25 km/h. You should be aware that going slow is not the case here. What matters most is that your bike should be designed to run at a maximum speed of 25 km/h. In other words, the motor of the bike must turn off when you are pedaling above 25 km/h.
- You cannot travel on a roadway or road-related area where there is a speed limit over 50km/h
- While riding, you are supposed to keep your legs separately on two sides of the bike frame. One leg on each side.
- Keep at least one hand on the handlebar. Never take both hands off the handlebar while the bike is moving.
- If you are intending to carry a passenger, make sure the bike is designed for that purpose. And of course, don’t forget that the passenger also is supposed to have a helmet on.
New South Wales (NSW)
Most of all, Electric bikes have been growing in popularity in Sydney over the past few years. We could say that Sydney and Melbourne are among the most e-bike friendly cities not only in Australia but in the whole world. Also, the rules of the road in Sydney are pretty similar to other major cities across the world. If you’re planning on cruising around town on an electric bike in Sydney or any other city in NSW, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Stay on bike lanes and paths in Sydney
Throughout the city, there are designated bike lanes and paths marked by blue or green signage with white bicycle symbols. You must use these lanes and it is illegal to ride your electric bike in designated pedestrian areas unless there are none.
Register your e-bike
Your new electric bike needs to be registered with Roads and Maritime Services (RMS). That can be done online or at any service centre. While registering, your name, address, date of birth, and proof of identity (such as a driver’s licence number) will be required.
And here are a few more things you should know about e-bikes in NSW Australia :
- In New South Wales, your e-bike must have a white front lamp and a rear red reflector. You can also use a red rear light if you prefer.
- Your e-bike is legal on roads and footpaths, but as long as there is a cycle path, do not try riding on the other two.
- The motor can only be activated by pedaling, it can’t be used as a throttle like a motorcycle.
- The engine needs to stop powering the bike when it reaches 25km/h.
- The engine must be less than 250 watts.
- Wear a helmet in Sydney or any other city in NSW, if you don’t, it can result in an on-the-spot fine of $340.
Overall, Since Sydney is very popular with cyclists, the cycling traffic there is a bit denser than in most other cities. So, In order to avoid accidents, it is suggested that you take extra precautions while riding through a cycling crowd.
All being said, remember that all these rules are meant to keep you and others safe on the road. Being on an electric ride is the greatest bliss but no matter how badly you might want to get somewhere on your cool e-bike, you’d better not put yourself or other people at risk. Not to mention that most rules are there to keep your bike intact and protect it from serious damage. So, keep safe, stay cool !