Rules and regulation govern just about every aspect of our life, and transport is certainly no exception. This is a guide* to the licensing, registration and in-service requirements for electric bicycles and electric scooters/mopeds in Australia.
Any vehicle used on the road or a road delegated area is called, unsurprisingly, a “road vehicle” and the Motor Vehicles Standard Act 1989 (the Act) is the federal legislation governing the importation and supply to the market of road vehicles. A compliance plate approval is required to supply a road vehicle to the market “for use in transport’.
Once the vehicle is on the road and in use (or “in-service”) the State and Territory legislation takes over. All the States and Territories have agreed to a common set of requirements but there are some local variations.
The ADRS (Australian Design Rules) define a “PEDAL CYCLE” (Vehicle Category AA) as “A vehicle designed to be propelled through a mechanism solely by human power” and a “POWER-ASSISTED PEDAL CYCLE” (Vehicle category AB) as “A pedal cycle to which is attached one or more auxiliary propulsion motors having a combined maximum power output not exceeding 200 watts”.
The States and Territories have agreed to implement the Australian Road Rules which define a “bicycle” as “a vehicle with 2 or more wheels that is built to be propelled by human power through a belt, chain or gears (whether or not it has an auxiliary motor), This means that a “bicycle” includes both a pedal cycle and a power assisted pedal cycle. Normal “bicycle” road rules applies to power assisted pedal cycles and there is no requirements for licensing and registration of power assisted pedal cycles.
The in-service requirements for bicycle riders are in Part 15 of the Australian Road Rules.
This requires a bicycle to have at least 1 effective brake; and a bell, horn, or similar warning device, in working order.
When riding at night a bicycle (or its rider) must have:
The rider of a bicycle must wear an approved bicycle helmet securely fitted and fastened on the rider’s head.
The rider of a bicycle riding on a length of road with a bicycle lane designed for bicycles travelling in the same direction as the rider must ride in the bicycle lane unless it is impracticable to do so.
The rider of a bicycle must not ride on a part of a separated footpath designated for the use of pedestrians.
The rider of a bicycle who is 12 years old or older must not ride on a footpath if another law of the jurisdiction prohibits the rider from riding on the footpath.
The rider of a bicycle riding on a footpath or shared path must:
A “MOPED” with 2 wheels is a category LA vehicle, defined as “A 2-wheeled motor vehicle, not being a power-assisted pedal cycle, with an engine cylinder capacity not exceeding 50cc and a ‘Maximum Motor Cycle Speed‘not exceeding 50 km/h; or a 2-wheeled motor vehicle with a power source other than a piston engine and a ‘Maximum Motor Cycle Speed‘not exceeding 50 km/h”. Mopeds are required to meet a number of ADRs including lighting (headlamps, brake lamps etc), noise, braking and emissions.
The smaller electric scooters are classed as mopeds and are thus restricted to 50 km/h. The advantage of being in the LA category is that, in some States and Territories, such as Queensland, SA, NT & WA, only a driver’s licence is required with no additional 2 wheel training or special driving licensing requirements. In other states like ACT, NSW, TAS & VIC, LA Category scooters can only be ridden after conducting training and passing the appropriate motorcycle test (see your dealer for more information).
Larger motorcycles or scooters, capable of a maximum speed over 50 km/h are LC category vehicles which are subject to similar ADRs, but specified with higher speed in mind.
Mopeds (category LA vehicles) are subject to the same in service requirements as passenger cars with the additional requirement to wear an approved crash helmet. Also, for rider’s safety, it is highly recommended to wear protective clothing and gear.
To find out more information about each state and territory’s licensing and registration requirements, please go to:
* This is a guide only and is subject to change pending state government legislation.