The New South Wales government has abandoned its plan for an electric scooter trial in Sydney, despite the move across Australia towards legalising them.
As a result, it continues to be illegal to ride eScooters on roads and road-related areas across New South Wales.
National Transport Commission report
The National Transport Commission (NTC), the federal statutory body for developing road regulations, spent 18 months considering the safe use of eScooters and, in its final report released mid-way through last year, recommended they be allowed on footpaths capped at 10km/h, and on bicycle paths and residential streets at 25km/h.
NSW lags behind other jurisdictions
The NTC is due to table draft legislation for state and territory transport ministers to consider next month, but none of its recommendations are binding because in Australia individual jurisdictions are responsible for making their own road rules.
In Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra, eScooters are permitted, but NSW has lagged behind the law, frustrating many inner-city residents and commuters who believe eScooters could offer a valuable solution to Sydney's ever increasing traffic problem. They're better for the environment too.
And, as a result of the pandemic, people have less of an appetite for being on crowded trains and buses, and could potentially embrace eScooters, particularly if they don't want or need a car.
Many believe that the current laws are inconsistent because electric bikes are allowed on the roads, and motorised ‘wheelchairs' and scooters used by the disabled and elderly, are allowed on footpaths.
Is it legal to ride an eScooter in New South Wales?
It is currently illegal to ride an eScooter on a road or road related area in New South Wales; they can only be ridden on private property which does not constitute a road-related area.
Those who break the rule face an face an on-the-spot fine (penalty notice) of $78.
If a rider decides to take the matter to court and is found guilty of the offence, the court has the discretion to impose a penalty of up to $2,200. The penalty does not include demerit points.
While it is perfectly legal to buy and sell eScooters, retailers and sellers can face strict penalties if they do not tell customers that eScooters are not permitted on footpaths or roads.
Selling any product or service based on misleading or incorrect information can face up $500,000 for an individual, or $10 million for a corporation.
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.
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