Australia’s electric scooter laws 2021

Electric scooter laws in Australia have continued to vary from state to state in 2021. In some states and territories, users can ride an electric scooter at up to 25km/h, while in other states, electric scooters can only be used on private property.

Because of these laws, it can sometimes be difficult to know whether you’re following the rules or not. And this is why we’ve compiled a helpful list of Australia’s electric scooter laws by state so that you can keep track of all the do’s and don’ts when riding an e-scooter in Australia.

Electric scooter laws: QLD
Australian Electric Scooter Laws QLD

Brisbane was the first Australian city to trial electric Lime scooters back in 2018.

Since that initial trial, you can still only travel on an e-scooter at a maximum speed of 25km/h and should only be ridden on footpaths (wherever possible) – not on roads or in cycle lanes.

Some limited access to roads is permitted but only in specific circumstances. You can cross a road at a designated crossing and ride on local streets (with a speed limit of 50km/h or less) when it is safe to do so. Additionally, riders must wear an approved bicycle helmet.

In May 2020 the Brisbane City Council extended Brisbane’s e-scooter trial for another 12 months with a larger focus on scooters being rolled out into the suburbs.

Both companies have a permit from Brisbane City Council; with Lime deploying up to 400 e-scooters while competitor Neuron has 600 e-scooters.

It’s also important to note that Neuron has continued to keep its scooters on Brisbane streets even during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.

Electric scooter laws: NSW
Australian Electric Scooter Laws NSW

New South Wales road rules currently say that “powered foot scooters…cannot be registered and can only be used on private land.” Therefore, it is illegal to ride an electric scooter in any public space (road or footpath) in New South Wales, other than on private property.

It’s important to note that an e-scooter trial was due to take place in 2021 but has now been rejected despite NSW’s Transport Department going as far as to recommend conditions for holding a trial.

The National Transport Commission also spent 18 months considering the barriers to the safe use of personal mobility devices with its final report (in August 2020) recommending “e-scooters be allowed on footpaths capped at 10km/h and on bicycle paths and residential streets up to 25km/h”.

^Conditions Apply
Electric scooter laws: VIC
Australian Electric Scooter Laws VIC

Victorian law stipulates that a motorised scooter cannot travel faster than 10km/h and must have an electric motor with a maximum power of 200 watts or less.

If an electric scooter doesn’t meet these conditions it can legally be used on private property, but not on a road, road-related areas, footpaths, shared paths and public areas.

If an electric scooter fails to meet these requirements and is classified as a motor vehicle, then the electric scooter must be registered, and the rider must have a valid motorcycle license.

Despite Lime holding electric scooter trials at Monash University in 2019, Victoria’s road rules continue to prohibit the use of e-scooters on footpaths.

Before the Lime scooter trial in Brisbane in 2018, electric scooters could only travel at 10km/h, however, this was changed to 25km/h during the trial.

Electric scooter laws: SA
Australian Electric Scooter Laws SA

Under South Australian law, electric scooters are considered motor vehicles. In South Australia, it is illegal to ride an electric scooter on the road, footpath, bicycle, pedestrian track, or vehicle parking areas and can only be used on private property.

The law explains that “operating a motor vehicle requires a driver’s licence, registration and compulsory third-party insurance. As these devices [electric scooters] do not meet the safety standards under the Australian Design Rules and are not eligible for registration.”

Despite these underlying laws, SA held their first e-scooter trial with 500 Lime scooters in Adelaide’s CBD from February to March 2019.

To ride these scooters, users had to be over the age of 18, wear a helmet and couldn’t exceed 15km/h. The scooters could only be used on footpaths or shared pathways, and could not be used on multi-lane roads, or any road with a speed limit of more than 50km/h.

After the trial, Lime lost its permit to two competing e-scooter companies, Melbourne-based RIDE and Singapore-based Beam. This is said to be due to Lime’s failed attempts at enforcing council-imposed geographic boundaries around the CBD.

In December 2019 Beam failed to win an extension of its permit losing out to competitors RIDE and Neuron.

Electric scooter laws: WA
Australian Electric Scooter Laws WA

Currently, Western Australian laws stipulate that electric scooters can travel at more than 10km/h, have a maximum power outlet of no more than 200 watts and are permitted on roads, footpaths and shared paths as long as the rider keeps left and gives way to any pedestrians.

If your e-scooter doesn’t meet these rules and regulations then it will be considered illegal to use on public roads and paths in WA and can only be used on private property.

E-scooter company Beam and the City of Bunbury, WA were finalising an agreement to bring the first e-scooter trial to Western Australia in early 2020.

Unfortunately Beam, in consultation with the City of Bunbury, decided to temporarily suspend its e-scooter roll out in Bunbury due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Electric scooter laws: TAS
Australian Electric Scooter Laws TAS

A motorised scooter can be used at a speed of 10km/h or less on level ground in Tasmania and must not exceed a maximum power output of 200 watts. Any e-scooter that exceeds the maximum power output can only be used on private property in Tasmania.

If these stipulations are not met, the electric scooter is deemed to be a motor vehicle. However, electric scooters cannot be registered as motor vehicles in Tasmania as they fail to meet the minimum safety requirements.

The Tasmanian State Growth Department is aware of e-scooter providers, their trials in other states and feels that e-scooters fall outside of the scope of use in Tasmania.

Electric scooter laws: NT
Australian Electric Scooter Laws NT

In the Northern Territory, a motorised scooter is defined as any “kick-type scooter that is equipped with an engine or motor.” All electric scooters are considered to be motor vehicles under Northern Territory law and must be registered to be used on roads or in other public places.

Starting in January 2020 the City of Darwin has undertaken a 12-month trial of self-ride hire electric scooters from Neuron. At a base level, you must be at least 18 years old, wear an approved bike helmet and must not exceed 15km/h to ride an e-scooter during the trial.

The City of Darwin will monitor and evaluate the trial with expanding the use of e-scooters being dependent on the outcomes of the trial.

Electric scooter laws: ACT

In the ACT you must wear an approved bicycle helmet while riding an e-scooter, adhere to the 15km/h speed limit for footpaths, 25km/h speed limit for shared/bike paths and slow down to 10km/h when using a crossing or preparing to stop.

It’s important to note that you cannot ride on the road unless there is no footpath available or they are impractical to use.

Both Beam and Neuron operate shared e-scooters in Canberra. Shared e-scooters provide a convenient option for short trips on their own or combined with public transport.

The maximum allowable speed
The general maximum speed limit is 25 kph, but certain states limit electric scooters to 10 kph. So, be aware of the allowable speeds in your area, especially when riding outside your state.

For example, in Victoria, Northern Territory, and Western Australia, the speed limit is 10 kph using a 200 W power when riding. Meanwhile, in Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory, you can ride up to 25 kph. However, in ACT, there’s a 15 kph speed limit when riding on footpaths.

Many electric scooter brands actually provide speeds of more than 25 kph. However, riders must be responsible enough to only go over the speed limit on off-road tracks or under a controlled environment. After all, the speed limit is there to ensure your safety and others.

Legal areas to ride

Unfortunately, electric scooters are only permitted to be ridden in certain areas in Australia. All electric scooters can be ridden legally on private property. However, some states only allow electric scooters on footpaths and bicycle tracks, while a few do not allow it in public roads and spaces.

For example, the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads says that electric scooters are only allowed to be ridden on paths. Electric scooters can’t be ridden on a road and even in on-road bike lanes unless you need to cross the street or avoid obstructions on footpaths. Riders should also stay on bike lanes when there are paths available for pedestrians and bicycles.

On the other hand, it’s illegal to ride electric scooters anywhere outside of private property in New South Wales and South Australia.

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Brisbane is Australia’s e-scooter testing ground. In November 2018 the city became the nation’s first to trial a dockless sharing scheme. So far it is proving enormously popular, with 1.8m rides clocked up in the first 12 months and 1,000 rentals now on the streets, alongside thousands of privately owned machines.

Prof Narelle Haworth, from the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland, says their sudden arrival “is a disruption just like when automobiles appeared on streets filled with horses”.

As share schemes are rolled out in Townsville, Canberra, Darwin and Adelaide, lawmakers are watching the progress closely.

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Not everyone is happy about personal mobility devices. Pedestrians complain about poor parking and inconsiderate riders. A Brisbane inner-city resident, Brendan Harris, says: “They go way too fast and they’re silent. They shouldn’t be on the footpaths.” Canberra’s trial has also been subject to vociferous complaints, including from the author and professor of public ethics Clive Hamilton, who called on the city to ban them.

In New South Wales, where personal mobility devices are illegal despite their growing presence on city streets, plans for a trial were abandoned in March after the transport minister, Andrew Constance, said he was “not in the mood” and described other schemes as “a disaster”.

In the Australian states where e-scooters are legal on public property, they are allowed on footpaths and on the roads in some cases, for instance suburban streets with speed limits lower than 50km/h.

https://www.justice.vic.gov.au/justice-system/laws-and-regulation/criminal-law

There are two specifications you should look into when choosing your electric scooter which is the power output and speed. However, depending on your location there might be some prohibitions on using your electric scooter. Electric scooter Australia laws allow electric scooters to go above 10km/h up to 25km/h in speed, but other states strictly keep it below 10km/h. Other states will also allow electric scooters in public roads and footpaths while others can only be used in private properties. So electric scooter laws in Australia will vary in different states.

Source: https://www.budgetdirect.com.au/blog/australias-electric-scooter-laws-by-state.html

Source 2: https://thatscooter.com/insights-into-electric-scooter-laws-in-australia

Source 3: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/mar/15/australian-e-scooters-bumpy-ride-like-when-automobiles-appeared-on-streets-filled-with-horses

Source 4: https://www.mearth.com.au/blogs/news/electric-scooter-specifications-as-applied-in-australian-law