The planned trial of shared (rental) e-Scooters in New South Wales is now hanging in the balance, after two Sydney councils decided not to participate.

e-Scooter trial 

The trial was planned to begin mid-way through this year, but has so far struggled to get off the ground.

Now, The City of Sydney and the Inner West Local Council have both backed out of trial to have e-Scooters made legal on the state's roads.

Both councils have been heavily criticised for reneging on partaking in the trial, and for missing an important opportunity which could see the convenient and efficient transportation option go some way towards clearing traffic congestion. 

e-Scooters – a viable transportation option for short distances 

In a time of spiralling fuel prices, eScooters only offer a viable economic transport alternative for inner city residents – one that's good for the climate and won't clog the city with further traffic congestion. 

Without these two councils involved, experts believe the trial will be significantly compromised, because each represent residents and visitors who are the most likely choose rentable eScooters as a transport option if they allowed to be ridden on public roads. 

Many coastal towns, particularly those which attract international visitors and students, would also benefit from shared e-Scooter schemes, but the state government is unlikely to pass enabling legislation until the viability of the option is fully explored.

Legal on roads across the nation, except in our state

New South Wales is the only Australian jurisdiction which makes it illegal to ride e-Scooters on public roads and road-related areas.

The main reason for this is the state's concerns about safety.

Advocates of e-Scooters argue that measures can be implemented to ensure the mode of transport can coexist with motorcycles, cars and trucks – in a similar way to how bicycles already share public roads.

But it seems this is unlikely to occur in the near future now that the councils have changed their minds.

The rules relating to e-scooters 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.

Sellers must not make false promises 

It is currently perfectly permissible for businesses and individuals to sell e-Scooters in New South Wales. 

However, it is unlawful for sellers to do so without warning buyers that eScooters are not a legal form of transport on public roads and road-related areas. 

The fines for selling any product or service based on misleading information carries significant penalties – up to $500,000 for an individual and for a corporation, the fine is whichever is greater: 

  • $10 million, or
  • three times the value of the benefit received, or
  • 10 percent of annual turnover in the preceding year, if the court cannot determine the benefit obtained from the offence.

Misleading or deceptive assertions and unconscionable conduct includes such things as: 

  • fake reviews and testimonials,
  • unfounded predictions and promises,
  • wild exaggeration and vague claims,
  • offering rebates, prizes and other free items without providing them,
  • misleading or altered guarantees, conditions and warranties,
  • relying on disclaimers and fine print,
  • silence or failure to disclose,
  • misleading conduct as to the nature of goods and services, or
  • wrongly accepting payments for goods or services.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.