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Is it illegal to ride an electric scooter in NSW?

Riding an electric scooter may be legal in some states in Australia, but not the most populous state in the country.

As the world reels in the grips of the COVID-19 crisis, alternative ways of getting to work are going to be front of mind for a lot of people who previously took a bus or train to the office.

One of the options you might consider is an electric scooter, as these plug-in push-scooters are available for as little as a tenth of the cost of an electric bicycle, they’re easy to store, and can offer up to 25km of range with top speeds up to 30km/h - a lot faster than the average commute in peak hour traffic.

But in New South Wales - the nation’s most populous state, and home of the largest city in the country, Sydney - it’s still illegal to ride an electric scooter.

According to a spokesperson for Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW), the rules around electric scooters have not changed, despite the market largely ignoring them.

“Motorised or electric scooters do not comply with vehicle safety standards and are not exempt from registration and therefore must not be used on a road or road related area.

“Motorised or electric scooters can only be used on private property or other areas not covered by road transport law,” the spokesperson said.

“Before the regulations could be changed to allow electric scooters to be used on roads and footpaths, TfNSW must be satisfied that they do not pose a risk to their operators or other road users, especially pedestrians.

“TfNSW is considering establishing trials where the road safety risks created by electric scooters can be evaluated. Such a trial requires a considerable amount of preparation to ensure a suitable area is used, the devices are appropriate, adequate controls are put in place, and the necessary regulatory framework is established.”

This is despite such trials being rolled out in other states, and laws having been changed to allow electric scooters to be ridden legally. 

In Queensland, for instance, electric scooters - or "rideables" - with a top speed limited to 25km/h are allowed to be ridden by people aged 16-plus (or 12, if supervised), both on footpaths and local streets (not main roads or CBD streets).

In South Australia, Adelaide has commenced a trial for e-scooters, but the law currently states that electrified vehicles such as segways, scooters and electric skateboards cannot be ridden on roads or footpaths.

In Victoria, the laws state that you can ride an electric scooter or “wheeled recreational device” on footpaths (not bike paths). Motorised skateboards cannot be used.