They’re great for the environment, but without the necessary road rules in place e-bikes are also a terrible casualty just waiting to happen. Northern Beaches Council are on the case requesting an urgent review…
Northern Beaches Council is calling on the NSW Government to review the current road rules to improve public safety and protect pedestrians, riders and motorists from accidents with e-bikes.
Northern Beaches Mayor Sue Heins said the recent proliferation of e-bikes has raised some important questions about the effectiveness of existing road rules to cover e-bikes.
“While it’s great to see so many people choosing cleaner transport options to move around the Northern Beaches, we need to ensure we have the right road rules to protect all road users,” Mayor Heins said.
“With more and more e-bikes appearing on our shared pathways, roads and footpaths Northern Beaches Council is grappling with how to improve public safety.
“During our Council meeting last week, we resolved to engage with Transport for NSW, urging them to initiate a statewide education campaign and review relevant road rules. Council will also explore ways to better accommodate e-bikes. Together, we hope to reach a solution to improving e-bike and pedestrian safety.”
Council will submit a motion to the Local Government NSW 2023 Annual Conference to be held in November. Council will also write to the Minister for Roads and Transport for NSW seeking:
- the development of a community awareness and safety campaign to improve pedestrian and rider safety in respect of e-bikes, including but not limited to education on the current laws in respect of all electric micro mobility devices
- a review of the current NSW Road Rules 2014 and Regulations under the Road Transport Act 2013 to make any necessary changes to improve public safety and to focus on key risk areas: speeding of e-bikes and bicycles on shared paths; e-bike riders approaching and passing pedestrians safely; the carrying of 3 or more pillion passengers on e-bikes and bicycles; the altering of e-bike systems to prevent the requirement for pedalling or preventing top speed controls; and setting an appropriate maximum size and weight of an e-bike to reduce risks to pedestrians
- that the NSW Government provide capital grants to local councils to assist with safety improvements to shared paths.
Council’s Transport Network team recently worked with Northern Beaches Police Area Command to audit electric bike, electric scooter, electric rollerblades, electric skateboards and other bike usage, on Northern Beaches shared paths, bike paths, and footpaths. This included a survey of the community to determine levels of awareness of road rules and e-bike safety.
Issues identified in the audit included:
- the prevalence of e-scooters and other non-compliant devices and the inaccurate assumption by survey respondents that such devices were legal
- the type of e-bikes available and issues around determining their legality and compliance
- concerns about younger e-bike riders too young to hold a driver’s licence or learner permit
- concerns about pillion passengers, sitting on the handlebars or behind the rider, without helmets and travelling at speed
- younger riders having little exposure to or knowledge of NSW Road Rules.
E-bikes are currently subject to the same road rules as bicycles. To be considered a bicycle it cannot be propelled exclusively by a motor. In Australia e-bikes must not assist pedalling past the speed of 25km/h.
While e-bikes sold in Australia meet the legal requirements, there is currently no quality control over e-bikes purchased and shipped from overseas retailers.
E-scooters cannot legally be ridden on public roads and paths in NSW, only on private property. The exception is where e-scooter trials are taking place, approved by Transport for NSW.
Council will continue to work closely with NSW Police and the community to improve community and rider safety.
For more information about e-bikes and e-scooters visit northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/e-bike-and-e-scooter-safety