eBikes and eScooters are a fun way to get around, keep fit, and help the environment – but you want to stay safe and on the right side of the law. Depending on where you live in Australia, you may be subject to different rules and regulations while out and about.
We’ve put together some essential safety tips for all eBike or eScooter riders plus handy links to find out more about specific laws for your location.
Safety Tips All Riders Need To Know.
Wear a helmet.
It’s bike and scooter safety 101 – wear a helmet.
Choose a helmet with a sticker to indicate it is safety approved and meets the Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 2063.
It should be snug, comfortable fit on your head (not slipping to the sides/front/back) with no slack in the strap when it’s fastened.
Currently, in all Australian states and territories (excluding Northern Territory) it is mandatory to wear a helmet whenever and wherever riding a bike - with some minor differences between states.
In the Northern Territory, adult cyclists (17 years and older) don’t have to wear a helmet when riding along bike paths or footpaths.
Laws about wearing a helmet while riding an electric scooter vary between states and territories. Check out the links further below for the legal requirements of your locality.
Either way, we recommend all riders wear a helmet.
Make yourself visible at night.
Riding at night is extremely dangerous if other riders, drivers, and pedestrians can’t see you properly.
Make sure your eBike is equipped with lights. You should have one light on the front and one at the rear of the bike. It’s a smart move to put one on your helmet and spoke lights are a good idea too.
If you’re riding an eScooter, use retro-reflector tapes on the device to make it more visible at night and fit a light to the front.
In most Australian states and territories, using a light at night is a legal requirement.
Whether you're riding an eBike or a eScooter, wear visible gear such as reflector jackets and fluorescent clothing when out at night.
Keep the tires pumped up.
When your eBike tires are inflated properly, you have better control if you need to react quickly – seconds count in preventing a collision.
Keeping an eye on tire tread is crucial too because worn tires can’t maintain a proper grip with the road, leaving you vulnerable to slipping.
Checking the appearance of tires and pressure is important for eScooters too – keep them pumped up and an eye on the treads. Replace if needed.
Use warning devices.
Your eBike needs to be equipped with a warning device – or two.
Many eBike riders have both bell and horn options to alert motorists and pedestrians of their location. You can use the typical thumb-actuated rotary bell (the ‘ring-ring’ sound) for alerting pedestrians while an air horn can be used to alert motorists - the sound is much louder, similar to a car horn.
Some electric scooters come complete with a bell – but if yours doesn’t, fit one to the handlebars.
Don’t drink and ride.
Thinking of riding home after a few drinks? Bad idea.
Just like driving a car, riding an eBike or eScooter under the influence of alcohol is dangerous – you’re gambling with your safety and the safety of those around you.
Your reaction time is impaired (no surprises there) and you’re more likely to take risks while riding drunk. Studies have also found that riders who drink are less likely to wear a helmet – increasing the chance of serious head injuries.
Australia’s traffic rules for eBikes and eScooters.
Australia’s Motor Vehicles Standard Act 1989 is the federal legislation that governs the importation and supply of ‘road vehicles’ (this includes electric bikes and electric scooters) to the Australian market.
Each state and territory regulates its own traffic laws. With eBikes, most follow European laws where e-bikes sold for on-road use are limited to 250 watts and capped at 25km/hour.
Electric scooter laws in Australia vary from state to state. In some places, electric scooters can travel at a maximum speed of 25km/h while in other states, it is currently illegal to use them outside private property.
We recommend you check out the electric bike and electric scooter laws and road rules for your location with the links below.
What about 'Frankenstein' bikes?
Some riders use separate components to modify a frame and create what is known as a 'Frankenstein' electric bike.
This DIY design approach can be extremely risky. Low-quality bike frames with poor handling capability and shoddy brakes teamed with a powerful engine are an accident waiting to happen.
Frankenstein electric bikes often have the ability to power figures far beyond the legal limit of 25km/hour making them illegal to ride in cycle and roadways.
However, illegal Frankenstein bikes are unlikely to be discovered by authorities until it’s too late – after an accident or infringement has happened.
Be advised that all of the above information serves as a guide only to the Australian laws for electric bikes and electric scooters. It is subject to alterations to Australia’s legislation. We recommend you do your own research into the laws and regulations applicable to your locality and vehicle.
Australian Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989
Alcohol, bicycling, and head and brain injury: a study of impaired cyclists riding patterns R1
Authors: Patrick Crocker, DO, Omid Zad, MD, Truman Milling, MD , Karla A. Lawson, PhD. Published: October 09, 2009. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajem.2008.09.011.
Electric bikes a safety risk as some cyclists flout regulations (ABC News)
E-bikes surge in popularity in Australian cities but experts warn of risks (The Guardian)
Australia’s electric scooter laws by state (Budget Direct)
Product Safety Australia - Helmets Mandatory Standards (ACCC )