Cycling is a fun and efficient way to get around the city. For those who would like convenience without the added sweat and tiredness, electric bikes have become a popular choice for commuters and some cyclists. In fact, according to a report, the electric bicycle market in Australia will grow with a CAGR of 6.7% from 2021 to 2026. This is no surprise as more people use e-bikes to avoid traffic congestion and the increasing fuel prices, develop a more active lifestyle, and have a more positive impact on the environment.
So, if you are thinking of riding an electric bike for work, school, or leisure, you should be aware of the electric bike road rules in Australia.
Are electric bikes legal in Australia?
Yes! The Australian Vehicle Standards defines electric bikes as a bicycle with a maximum motor output of 250W. Therefore, e-bikes that don’t exceed this motor power requirement are considered legal to ride in public. However, each State and Territory has their own electric bike road rules, so check your local laws to be sure.
With this, here are the 10 general road rules that you should know when riding an e-bike.
1. Wearing a helmet is compulsory
As with other personal electric mobility devices, Australia requires e-bike riders to wear a helmet in public. Moreover, the helmet must be approved by the Australian Standard and must comply with AS 2063 or AS/NZS 2063. E-bike riders caught without a helmet will be fined. Fines depend on your state’s laws.
2. Don’t exceed the speed limit
The electric bike speed limit in Australia is 25 km/h (15 m/h). A 250W e-bike with a pedal-assist system can only do 6 km/h via a throttle or cruise control mechanism. However, there are no speed limits for riding off-road or on private property. However, riders are advised to don’t go over the speed limit on private property for their safety.
3. Don’t ride on paths and areas where e-bikes are prohibited
E-bike regulation in Australia allows electric bikes on roads and bike paths as long as they comply with the required power output. E-bike riders can freely ride on off-road paths and private property. However, riders should follow signs and avoid paths or roads that don’t allow e-bikes. Since each State and Territory have their own rules, it’s best to check your state’s e-bike regulation.
4. The e-bike must be fitted with lights and a bell
Same with regular bicycles, e-bikes are required to have a front and rear light and must also have a working bell for your safety, especially when riding at night. The front light must have a white light that is visible for at least 200m. Meanwhile, the red rear light must also be seen for at least 200m. It’s also advised to have a red reflector that can be seen at least 50m from behind.
5. Follow all traffic signs and rules
E-bike road rules also comply with the general rules. This includes following traffic signs and rules, such as obeying traffic lights and stopping at stop signs. Other general traffic rules include turning when you’re allowed to, following the traffic flow, and not riding up one-way streets. Check with your city’s e-bike laws to be sure of any specific laws for riding an e-bike.
6. Use hand signals
Just like riding a bicycle, e-bike riders should also use hand signals when changing lanes or turning. This is an electric bike road rule that will keep you safe, especially when going through moderately heavy traffic. When making a hand signal, make sure that pedestrians and other drivers see you making a hand signal to confirm your intention of changing lanes or turning. This will also make it safer for you when you move.
7. Stay on the right
Whenever you are riding an e-bike, remember that the slower traffic should stay to the right. After all, it is a common road rule that left lanes should be used for overtaking. When you need to pass through pedestrians, other riders, or vehicles on the road or path, make sure to ring your bell, use a hand signal, and say “on your left” to warn other path users. This will make it safe for everyone.
8. Always give way to pedestrians and other vehicles
When you come across a pedestrian, vehicle, bicycle, or other mobility device that is travelling slower than you, you give way until it is safe for you to pass. This is why e-bike riders should ride at appropriate speeds, so you can react quickly in case you come across a rider, vehicle, or pedestrian moving slower than you. Overall, giving way will avoid unnecessary accidents and injuries.
9. Don’t ride under the influence
One electric bike road rule that you should never do is riding under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Drunk riding exposes you to a greater risk of getting into an accident as it reduces your ability to focus on the road. If you are drunk from a late night out, it’s best to take the bus, subway, or taxi instead of riding your e-bike. Riders caught riding under the influence will face serious penalties, depending on your state’s laws.
10. Don’t use your phone while riding
While it’s alright to use your phone to look at maps or routes, don’t look at it for long periods and don’t hold your mobile phone with your hands. Some states prohibit cyclists to speak, text, or use their mobile phones while riding and violators can face penalties when caught. For your safety, avoid using your phone while riding. If you must use your phone for navigation, attach a phone holder to your e-bike, so both of your hands can continue to control your e-bike.
Stay safe and have fun while riding
The best way to enjoy your rides and keep yourself safe from trouble is to follow the electric bike road rules in Australia. Remember to always be mindful of your surroundings, so you keep yourself and others safe.
If riding an electric bike isn’t for you, why not try other personal mobility devices, such as electric scooters, electric skateboards, or balance scooters? Browse through Ride Hub’s shop for affordable e-rides.