Electric scooters are becoming the vehicle of choice amongst commuters worldwide. Their numerous economic, environmental and social benefits are seemingly countless, which can explain the significant uptake in electric scooter ownership around the world.
Australians in particular value the numerous benefits electric scooters have to offer. A recent survey by the RACV found that 80% of people would use an electric scooter to:
Get to public transport (73%)
Get to work (63%)
For recreation purposes (68%)
Go shopping (62%)
Of the 1,400 people surveyed, a third said they would use e-scooters to replace car trips, while 39 per cent would use them instead of public transport. This would significantly reduce traffic congestion, public transport overcrowding, as well as associated environmental and economic costs.
With numerous benefits and such a high demand for electric scooters in Australia, it is no surprise that laws are changing in favour of electric scooter riders and owners. To help you understand the changing laws, below is a summary of Australian electric scooter laws.
Electric Scooter Laws - Queensland
Brisbane was the first Australian city to really quantify and spell out how these new vehicles could and could not be used throughout the city with the introduction of a Lime scooters trial in 2018.
The only real stipulations put forward by this local government was that the ride-sharing scooters had to be ridden on pavements (and not in bicycle lanes or on roadways shared with traditional motor vehicles), and that individual riders had to wear helmets while doing so.
Since their launch in November 2018, Brisbane has had one of the highest uptakes that Lime has ever seen, with over half million trips being taken by Brisbane locals. Though like most trials, there have been some expected issues along the way, especially as the public gets used to riding this new style of vehicle, the trial has been extended. The Brisbane City Council is now giving the green light for additional operators to launch in the city.
For non-ride-sharing scooters, the Queensland government currently has regulations in place limiting the maximum speed (25km/h) of electric scooters and motor wattage (200 watts or under). And helmets are always a must.
Although you must not ride on main roads or streets in the Brisbane CBD, riders are permitted to ride on a local street with a speed limit of 50km/h of less.
Electric Scooter Laws - ACT/Canberra
In December 2019, the ACT government announced that they would be legalising the use of electric scooters on footpaths and shared paths following increased public demand. Canberra residents are now able to travel at speeds of up to 15km/h on footpaths and up to 25km/h in all other permitted locations.
In order to ensure both rider and road-user safety, electric scooter riders are also required to wear an approved bike helmet, have a warning device such as a bell, have lights and reflectors, they cannot use a mobile while riding and not be impaired by alcohol.
Electric Scooter Laws - New South Wales
New South Wales has rules and regulations dictating how electric scooters can be used that are very similar to those already implemented in the United Kingdom.
Currently electric scooters are allowed to be operated on private land without any restrictions, but many expect that the new electronic bicycle trials in Sydney are going to allow for electric scooter trials to commence pretty soon – potentially changing everything in the process.
Electric Scooter Laws - Victoria
Similar to Queensland, Victorian laws stipulate that motorised scooters cannot have a motor that exceeds 200 watts. The electric scooter also mustn't exceed speeds of 10km/h. If a motorised scooter exceeds these requirements, owners can still pilot them along city streets and pavements, so long as they have first secured a motorbike license and have invested in scooter registration with local authorities.
Alternatively, scooters can be ridden on private property without any restrictions.
However, following the findings of the RACV survey, there are increased calls on the government to fast-track the introduction of consistent and clear road rules that encourage the use of electric scooters, without the need for a license.
Electric Scooter Laws - Tasmania
Tasmania has very similar laws to Victoria in the sense that riders are permitted to ride motorised scooters so long as the vehicle does not exceed 10km/h and has a power output of 200 watts or less.
If your scooter exceeds these parameters, Tasmanian electric scooter owners are able to ride their scooters on private property without restrictions.
Electric Scooter Laws - Western Australia
Similar to other states, Western Australian laws stipulate that electric scooters must travel at 10km/h or less, and must only be used on bike or shared pathways. Any unlicensed electric scooters may only be used on private property.
However, Lime will soon be announcing a trial in Perth’s CBD, meaning electric scooters will soon be a frequent sight across the city. The e-scooter ride-sharing company have also applied for the speed limit to be raised to 15km/h to reduce the restriction on electric scooter riders.
Electric Scooter Laws - South Australia
Good news for South Australian residents, Australian electric scooter ride-sharing company RIDE is now operating in Adelaide’s CBD, with the council recently announcing their permit will be extended to 2022.
These scooter riders can travel speeds of up to 15km/h, must be over the age of 18, wear a helmet, and can only be used on footpaths and shared pathways.
Electric scooter owners are also free to ride their scooters on private properties unrestricted.
Electric Scooter Laws - Northern Territory
In the Northern Territory, Darwin city council have announced that Neuron Mobility, Southeast Asia’s leading e-scooter sharing company, will be conducting a 12 month trial of e-scooters across 37 Darwin locations.
With the trial expected to launch in early 2020, and riders able to travel at speeds of up to 20km/h, it seems that the Northern Territory’s electric scooter laws are on a similar trajectory as Queensland, with NT laws expected to be updated following the trial.
In a very short period of time, electric scooter laws across the country have come a long way. Following successful trials across the country, and the research conducted by organisations such as the RACV, it is only a matter of time before laws are further updated in favour of electric scooter riders.
Before riding, we recommend confirming regulations with your local council. We also recommend investing in the proper safety gear, so you are well-protected when it is time to go out for a ride.