Riding an electric scooter (e-scooter) is currently illegal unless on private property in New South Wales.
So far as NSW is concerned, it is perfectly legal for retailers to sell e-scooters. However, it’s against the law for retailers to sell e-scooters (or any product or service) based on misleading or incorrect information to consumers. In fact, retailers who sell products on misleading or deceptive practices like this can face up to a $10m fine (for body corporates or up to $500,000 for an individual).
Unfortunately, technology is advancing so fast, that the law is having trouble keeping up.
Electric Scooter Laws NSW
It is currently prohibited to ride an escooter in Sydney or anywhere in NSW on a road.
The NSW Road Rules, namely rule 240(2)(c) specifically prohibits a person from travelling in or on a wheeled recreational device, including an e-scooter, on a road at any time if the scooter is either wholly or partly assisted in being propelled by means other than human power.
It is therefore illegal to ride an electric scooter on a road if the scooter is powered by electricity.
A breach of this rule carries an on-the-spot fine (penalty notice) of $78. If a person who receives this fine decides to court elect, then the court has the discretion to impose a penalty of up to $2,200. If the court dismisses the matter, no further penalty will be imposed putting an end to the case (this occurs if the court returns a ‘not guilty’ verdict or imposes a section 10 penalty even after a person pleads guilty in court).
There are no demerit point penalties attached to this breach.
If going to court and need guidance, click here for a guide on writing an apology letter for court in traffic cases.
What is a “Wheeled Recreational Device” or “wheeled Toy”?
A wheeled recreational device is a wheeled device, built to transport a person, propelled by human power or gravity, and ordinarily used for recreation or play, and it includes the following:
- Unicycle or similar wheeled device
A “wheeled recreational device” does NOT include a golf buggy, pram, stroller or trolley. Nor does it include a motor-assisted device (whether or not the motor is operating), bicycle, wheelchair or wheeled toy.
A wheeled toy is a child’s pedal car, scooter, tricycle or similar toy if it’s being used only by a child aged under 12-years of age. Otherwise it is not considered a “wheeled toy”.
The same maximum penalties apply to anyone who breaches the following laws on using a wheeled recreational device or toy on certain roads:
- It is illegal to travel on a wheeled recreational device or wheeled toy, such as a non-motorised scooter or non-electrical scooter or push bike:
- On a road with a dividing line or median strip (a “dividing line” is a road marking formed by a line or 2 parallel lines to indicate the parts of the road to be used be vehicles travelling in opposite directions); or
- On a road on which the speed limit is more than 50km/h; or
- A one-way road with more than one marked lane
An exception to the above is that a person is allowed to ride a wheeled recreational device or wheeled toy, such as a non-motorised or non-electrical scooter or push bike, on an area that divides a road, or a footpath or nature strip adjacent to a road, or an area that’s open to the public and is designated for use by cyclists or animals, or an area that’s not a road and is open to or used by the public for driving, riding or parking vehicles.
- It is illegal to travel on a wheeled recreational device i.e. a non-motorised scooter or non-electrical scooter or push bike:
- On a road that’s declared, under another law of this jurisdiction, such as the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW), to be a road on which wheeled recreational devices are not allowed; or
- On a road at night
An exception to this, is that a person is allowed to ride a non-motorised or non-electrical scooter or push bike at night on an area that divides a road, or a footpath or nature strip adjacent to a road, or an area that’s open to the public and is designated for use by cyclists or animals, or an area that’s not a road and is open to or used by the public for driving, riding or parking vehicles
An overall exception to all the above prohibitions, which in other words allow a person to ride a wheeled recreational device or wheeled toy including a non-motorised or non-electric scooter or push bike on a road in the above circumstances is if the person is:
- Crossing the road by the shortest safe route; and
- Doesn’t stay on that road longer than necessary to safely cross the road; and
- Crossing the road on the wheeled recreational device or wheeled toy is not prohibited under any other NSW law.
According to rule 15 of the Road Rules, the above prohibitions do not apply to “vehicles”, which the road rules define as including:
- A motor vehicle
- Trailer and tram
- A bicycle
- A combination and a motorised wheelchair that can travel at over 10km/h (on level ground)
A “vehicle” does not include any other kind of wheelchair, train, or a wheeled recreational device or wheeled toy. In other words, bicycles is permitted to be ridden on a road in NSW in accordance with the bicycle laws in NSW. This includes, a requirement for bicycle riders who’re aged 18-years or older to carry photo ID.
The Rules Around Skateboards, Foot Scooters and Rollerblades in NSW (Summarised)
As the NSW Centre for Road Safety advises, a pedestrian includes “a person in or on a wheeled recreational device or wheeled toy”. This includes rollerblades, a skateboard, scooter, unicycle or similar wheeled device.
- Foot scooters, skateboards and rollerblades may be ridden on footpaths unless signs specifically prohibit them, however, riders must keep to the left and give way to other pedestrians
- Powered foot scooters and skateboards cannot be registered and can only be used on private land
- On separated bicycle and pedestrian paths, foot scooter, skateboard and rollerblade riders must use the section designated for bicycles, but must keep out of the path of any bicycle
- Foot scooters, skateboards and rollerblades can only be used on the road during daylight hours
- They cannot be used on roads with a dividing line or median strip or a speed limit greater than 50km/h, or a one-way road with more than one marked lane
Trials in NSW?
Newcastle, NSW have been approached by a number of e-scooter organisations interested in trialling an e-scooter transportation system similar to that of Queensland.
A spokesperson for the City of Newcastle has said, “Any future shared electric scooter trial would likely be by expression of interest and be undertaken in conjunction with Transport for NSW”.
It will not be surprising to find e-scooters becoming a new form of transport in NSW, given its economic efficiency and environment benefits. The law just needs to be amended to cater for it.
Why are Electric Scooters Illegal on our Roads in NSW
Although an e-scooter is considered a ‘registrable vehicle’, they do not satisfy the Australian Design Standards. For this reason, an e-scooter cannot be registered in NSW. As a result, an e-scooter also cannot be insured.
For the above reasons, an e-scooter cannot be ridden on a road in NSW, except on private land.
Anyone caught riding an e-scooter on a road in NSW can face heavy penalties for riding/driving an unregistered vehicle, riding/driving an uninsured vehicle, riding/driving unlicensed, riding/driving while suspended or disqualified, or riding/driving without a helmet.
The below table outlines other penalties for riding an electric scooter in NSW.
A “motor Vehicle” is defined under the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW)as a vehicle built to be propelled by a motor that forms part of the vehicle.
What is a “Motor Vehicle” Under the Law in NSW?You may ride an e-scooter in NSW on private land only. It is prohibited to ride one on a road or road related area.Where is it Legal to Ride an Electric Scooter in NSW
Can Police Seize and Forfeit Your E-Scooter in NSW?
The police can seize an unregistered vehicle, which will include an e-scooter if it is being ridden on a road, pursuant to section 79 of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW). If police seize your electric scooter, they may apply to the Local Court for an order to have the e-scooter forfeited to the Crown under section 79(2). This order can be appealed to the District Court.
In addition to this power, police can also seize a motor vehicle, including an electric scooter under section 239 if a police officer reasonably believes that it has been used on a road.
Electric Scooter Australia Laws
Electric scooter laws in South Australia, and escooter laws in Western Australia are yet to be updated to make this form of transportation legal. It is still currently illegal in those states.
Electric scooter laws in Qld, electric scooter laws in Victoria, and Tasmania accommodate for this form of transportation in Australia.
E-scooters less than 200-watts are permitted to be ridden, only at a maximum speed of 10km/h in various public places in Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Tasmania.
A Californian tech start-up called ‘Lime’ has introduced scooter-sharing, where instead of hiring bicycles, you can hire scooters designed for the last leg of your journey, namely, from the train or bus to the office. The scooters are fitted with rechargeable batteries which can be charged between uses.
The way this works, is that users are charged a booking fee via the app, after which time they pay for each minute they ride.
Electric Scooter Laws Qld
Lime currently operates in Brisbane, where you can see a few people whizzing about on the bright green electric scooters. It wishes to expand into Sydney, Perth and Melbourne.
In fact, Queensland introduced new rules for “rideables”, which clarify where a rider can ride an e-scooter, and how fast he/she can go.
According to Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, an e-scooter can only be ridden on paths.
You aren’t permitted to ride it on a road, even in on-road bike lanes unless you’re crossing at a set of lights or avoiding an obstruction on a footpath.
On path that’re separated, those where there is a lane for bicycles and a lane for pedestrians- a rider will need to stay on the bicycle side. In addition, while a driver licence is not required to ride an e-scooter, a rider must be at least 16-years-of-age.
While children between the ages of 12-16 can ride one, they must be accompanied by an adult.
An approved helmet is required when riding an e-scooter, and it is common to find scooters with a helmet hanging on their handlebars in Brisbane. However, it may be necessary to bring your own on other occasions.
To legally ride an e-scooter in Queensland at night, it must also be fitted with a working light and reflectors.