It’s the big question: are 250-watt EN15194-certified electric bikes legal to ride as bicycles in Tasmania? After doing my own research and corresponding with the responsible minister I think the answer is yes. I’m not a lawyer so don’t consider anything on this website to be legal advice. I am, however, now intending to buy one.
Not that anyone would give me a straight bloody answer. So here’s how I got here. You can make up your own mind.
Broadly, the situation is that the federal government recognised the EN15194 standard but it was up to the states to update their laws to allow these electric bikes to be ridden under the same rules as bicycles.
In 2014 the Tasmanian parliament passed the Vehicle and Traffic Amendment (Power-Assisted Pedal Cycles) Bill. In his second reading speech Rene Hidding MP said:
This Government is eager to provide for the safe and legal use of Power Assisted Pedal Cycles on Tasmanian roads. Madam Speaker, this Bill will provide those opportunities in the near future. … However, the existing definition of ‘motor vehicle’ in the Vehicle and Traffic Act prohibits Pedelecs (which meet the new Standard of 250 watts) from being used as bicycles in Tasmania.
This Bill, which passed, forms the first part of the required changes. He continued:
A consequential amendment to the Road Rules recognising EN15194-compliant Power Assisted Pedal Cycles as ‘bicycles’ will form part of the 10th Road Rules Amendment Package put forward by the National Transport Commission. This is expected to occur in August 2014 which will legalise the use of these Power Assisted Pedal Cycles as ‘bicycles’ on Tasmanian Roads.
My problem was that I couldn’t find the amendments to the Road Rules. I assumed they hadn’t happened so I emailed Mr Hidding to find out what went wrong. I hope he won’t mind me reproducing the meat of his letter here as it is a useful description of what happened:
In May 2012, the Commonwealth Government agreed to recognise the United States Economic Commission for Europe’s EN15194 Standard as an equivalent Australian Design Rule for PAPCs [Power Assisted Pedal Cycles].
The new Standard allows a PAPC to have auxiliary power producing a maximum of 250 watts triggered by the cyclist’s pedaling motion. The auxiliary power ceases at a speed of 25 km/h, requiring the rider to continue pedaling to maintain motion.
To enable their use as bicycles on Tasmanian roads, the Government amended the Vehicle and Traffic Act 1999 to exclude EN15194-compliant PAPCs from being classified as a ‘motor vehicle’, which in turn has exempted them from certain matters prescribed by the Vehicle and Traffic (Driver Licensing and Vehicle Registration) Regulations 2010, including the requirement to be registered and for riders to be appropriately licensed, as well as payment of the associated fees.
In addition a consequential amendment to the Road Rules 2009 was made amending the definition of a bicycle to include PAPCs as defined under the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (Cwlth.).
The amendment to the Road Rules was notified in the Gazette on 10 December 2014.
Apart from being a good history (many thanks to Rene and his staff!) the important thing is that the changes to the Road Rules did happen. They were in fact announced in the 10/12/2014 Gazette. The changes state that a bicycle “includes a power-assisted pedal cycle within the meaning of vehicle standards determined under the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 of the Commonwealth”.
In section 4.2.2 the Australian Design Rule defines:
POWER-ASSISTED PEDAL CYCLE (AB)
A pedal cycle to which is attached one or more auxiliary propulsion motors having a combined maximum power output not exceeding 200 watts; or
If you look up the definition of Pedalec in the same document you find:
PEDALEC – A vehicle meeting European Committee for Standardization EN 15194:2009 or EN 15194:2009+A1:2011 Cycles – Electrically power assisted cycles – EPAC Bicycles.
That’s good enough for me.
Meanwhile the NSW Government has lost its marbles but its public service appears to still be on the ball. They publish an incredibly clear description of the relevant laws online.