Is it Legal to Ride a Power-Assisted Bicycle in New South Wales?

by Sonia Hickey & Ugur Nedim
Electric bicycle

On 22 January 2021, the Australian Government updated the requirements for permitted e-bikes.

There are only two types of eBikes permitted on roads and road-related areas, which are power-assisted pedal cycles, and electrically power-assisted cycles.

In either case, these must be designed to be propelled primarily by the rider; in other words, they cannot be propelled exclusively by the motor.

The motor is intended to provide a limited degree of assistance only.

Power-assisted pedal cycles

The requirements for a power-assisted pedal cycle to be legal on a road or road-related area are that:

  • Its motor or motors cannot have a combined maximum power output of more than 200 watts,
  • It cannot be exclusively propelled by motor,
  • It must have a total weight of less than than 35 kilograms, and
  • It must have a height-adjustable seat.

Electrically power-assisted cycles

The requirements for an electrically power-assisted cycle to be legal on a road or road-related area are that it has a maximum continued rated power of 250 watts which must be:

  • Progressively reduced as the speed increases, and
  • Cut off when it reaches a speed of 25km/h or the rider stops pedalling.

No licence or registration required for eBikes

EBikes do not have to be registered and it is not necessary to have a driver or rider licence to operate them

What is the definition of a road?

A road is defined as an area that is open to or used by the public and is developed for, or has as one of its main uses, the driving or riding of motor vehicles.

What is the definition of a road-related area?

A road-related area is defined as:

  • an area that divides a road
  • a footpath or nature strip adjacent to a road
  • an area that is open to the public and is designated for use by cyclists or animals
  • an area that is not a road and that is open to or used by the public for driving, riding or parking vehicles
  • a shoulder of a road, or
  • any other area that is open to or used by the public and that has been declared under to be an area to which specified provisions of the Road Transport Act or the statutory rules apply.

Riders of eBikes must wear a helmet

Electric bike riders must, like all bicycle users, wear an approved safety helmet.

This is a helmet with a label certifying it meets the Australian and New Zealand standard, which is AS/NZS 2063.

Helmets manufactured after 31 March 2011 must have an identifying mark from a body accredited or approved by the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ) certifying compliance with the standard.

In New South Wales, rule 256 of the Road Rules 2014 states:

The rider of a bicycle must wear an approved bicycle helmet securely fitted and fastened on the rider’s head, unless the rider is exempt from wearing a bicycle helmet under another law of this jurisdiction.

Failure to wear a helmet can result in an on-the-spot fine of $344.

Petrol-powered bicycles

It is illegal in New South Wales to ride petrol-powered bicycles on roads and road related areas.

A petrol bike is one that has a petrol-powered engine attached, whether before or after purchase, or is powered by another type of internal combustion engine.

Need traffic law advice?

For expert advice on the rules and regulations relating to New South Wales, including what may constitute a traffic offence, call our traffic lawyers in Parramatta or Sydney today on (02) 9261 8881.

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Authors

Sonia Hickey

Sonia Hickey is a freelance writer, magazine journalist and owner of 'Woman with Words'. She has a strong interest in social justice, and is a member of the Sydney Criminal Lawyers® content team.

Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist with over 20 years of experience as a criminal defence lawyer. He is the Principal of Sydney Criminal Lawyers®.

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