NSW RTA set to change electric bike laws

Positive discussion on ebikes and pedal assist bicycles

NSW RTA set to change electric bike laws

Postby SmellyTofu » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:22 am

http://www.smh.com.au/environment/rta-c ... -tnbm.html

RTA changes could be boost for electric bikes
KELSEY MUNRO URBAN AFFAIRS
April 27, 2010

ELECTRIC bikes could be the answer to traffic congestion, the obesity crisis and our carbon footprint. But over-regulation and a cycling culture that looks down on battery-assisted bikes as "cheating" have slowed their take-up in Australia, enthusiasts say.

However, changes proposed by the RTA could allow more powerful models on our roads.

The bikes do not need to be registered as long as their maximum power is 200 watts or less. But some models can have throttle control and resemble mopeds, with users being booked for riding them without registration.

''The beauty of this is people who are way past riding a bike can suddenly ride again. It integrates casual exercise into people's daily lives,'' says Mike Rubbo, 71, a filmmaker and e-bike enthusiast who runs the blog situp-cycle.com. ''It's the ideal urban transport vehicle.''

Overseas, e-bikes with up to 1000-watt motors are permitted in some jurisdictions. European e-bikes are typically 250 watts. In response to a growing push to allow e-bikes without registration to be used in Australia, the RTA has submitted a report to the federal government proposing changes to regulations.

"Times have changed and bikes have changed so they need to bring the law into line with Europe, which is what they're proposing," said Paul van Bellen, co-owner of Gazelle Bicycles Australia, a "bikes for transport" shop in Matraville.

Lord Tony Berkeley, a Labour peer who is secretary of Britain's all-party parliamentary cycling group, said while visiting Sydney last week that European studies had established a link between lower levels of obesity and a higher take-up of cycling. People of all ages can ride, he said. "I'm sure the lycra brigade love it, too, but my objective is to get from A to B wearing a suit, and make it an everyday form of transport.''
Last edited by SmellyTofu on Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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by BNA » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:25 am

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Re: NSW RTA set to chance electric bike laws

Postby sogood » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:25 am

Read that.

If the sole objective is to get people to use alternative transport, then this is a good move. Like other places, pedal cyclists will hate these electric assisted bikes but will learn to co-exist with them and will eventually find them useful on windy days (drafting). :roll:
Last edited by sogood on Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: NSW RTA set to chance electric bike laws

Postby SmellyTofu » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:26 am

So true, however, it gives struggling "manual" pedalist like me something to chase (and overtake) up the hill. I think of them as ... motivators... :D
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Re: NSW RTA set to chance electric bike laws

Postby slowflow » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:29 am

My son used one for rehab, just brilliant.
More bikes on the road should result in more political power which if used well can benefit even those looking down on electric.
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Re: NSW RTA set to chance electric bike laws

Postby sogood » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:32 am

I've ridden amongst electric powered bikes and they are actually not that fast. If you can sustain 30km/h or more, then you can easily overtake them. I'd be more than happy to accept these new regulations if RTA would ban those noisy and smoke trailing combustion engine assisted bicycles. Those are the real nuisance.
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Re: NSW RTA set to chance electric bike laws

Postby SmellyTofu » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:36 am

Aren't those whipper snipper powered bikes already banned? It's just that they are ridden illegally.

30km/h+ is fine for me... on flat roads. Can't really sustain 30 clicks on hills for too much.

One thing though about the story is that I can't see many people "pushing" their bike up the Milsons Point end of the Harbour bridge to get over the bridge. Some form of ramp or assisted ramp would have to be built for those that go into the city that way.
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Re: NSW RTA set to chance electric bike laws

Postby sogood » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:44 am

No ideas what the legal status of those combustion engined bikes are. There are a few regulars in my area and noisy they are.

IIRC, the electric bikes I've ridden amongst have a top speed of 28km/h. They would get nowhere close to that on an uphill but power assistance remains. So the differential on a hill won't be that great. Electric bike riders are also lazy and tend not to supplement pedal power on uphills on their noodly bike frame. :wink:
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Re: NSW RTA set to chance electric bike laws

Postby wombatK » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:50 am

Would be nice to see exactly what the RTA submission contains. There's been a discussion paper since May 2009.

IIRC, it was proposing a higher 250 W limit, but also suggesting measures such as having the motor cut-out as soon as pedalling stopped.

This kind of measure will make it easier to get rid of the two-stroke MTB conversions that tear along uphill and down-dale at 35 kph on urban footpaths cycleways (notably the M7), and are for all intents and purposes illegal unregistered motor bikes. Various retailers of the two-stroke bicycles claim they are legal - but the claim is very dubious. The RTA draft indicated that based on the engine capacity and the power it produces, there would be non of these producing less than 200 W. However, it appears the retailers are relying on some confusion about where or how the power measurement is made (I don't understand that ! power is power regardless of where measured, except for minor transmission losses).

And it's not illegal to sell a kit that would be illegal to ride on a public road or cycleway. The pedalling cut-out is a whole lot easier to enforce - it's pretty easy to detect someone is powering uphill without pedalling.

FWIW, I'd have no problem with a larger 350 or 500W power-assist, provided it had the automatic cut-out when not pedalling and some minimum requirements on braking capability.

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Re: NSW RTA set to chance electric bike laws

Postby sogood » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:58 am

wombatK wrote:FWIW, I'd have no problem with a larger 350 or 500W power-assist, provided it had the automatic cut-out when not pedalling and some minimum requirements on braking capability.

At 500W, you won't need to pedal, but just spin.

That's a half decent sprinting power... Sustained! :shock:
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Re: NSW RTA set to chance electric bike laws

Postby queequeg » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:07 am

sogood wrote:
wombatK wrote:FWIW, I'd have no problem with a larger 350 or 500W power-assist, provided it had the automatic cut-out when not pedalling and some minimum requirements on braking capability.

At 500W, you won't need to pedal, but just spin.

That's a half decent sprinting power... Sustained! :shock:


My understanding was that the power output of the motor was directly related to the effort the rider puts in, so simply "spinning" would get you nowhere.
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Re: NSW RTA set to change electric bike laws

Postby SmellyTofu » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:23 am

So the electric bikes power the rear wheels directly or through the same chain as the pedals?
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Re: NSW RTA set to change electric bike laws

Postby hartleymartin » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:57 am

It depends on the design. A current trend with E-Bike/Pedelec design is to have the motor in the front hub, so that it is completely independent of the rear wheel drive train. There are quite a few which drive the rear wheel, but there are several different designs. Some drive through an independent free-wheel on the back, or through the left-hand-side (similar to some petrol-power kits) and some drive through the bottom bracket.

I personally favour the front hub power design. It allows for a much easier conversion from a regular bicycle to electric-assist. Bike Friday are currently developing the E-Tikit which I think is a brilliant piece of design. It allows you to remove the electric gear and fit a normal front wheel for use as a regular bicycle.
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Re: NSW RTA set to change electric bike laws

Postby sogood » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:59 am

Front wheel drive bikes? Watch out for under-steer! :mrgreen:
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Re: NSW RTA set to chance electric bike laws

Postby wombatK » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:12 am

sogood wrote:
wombatK wrote:FWIW, I'd have no problem with a larger 350 or 500W power-assist, provided it had the automatic cut-out when not pedalling and some minimum requirements on braking capability.

At 500W, you won't need to pedal, but just spin.

That's a half decent sprinting power... Sustained! :shock:

Some options in the draft also suggested cutting out power assist at 25 kph.

Specifically from discussion paper
The preferred definition for discussion is:
A pedal cycle [vehicle designed to be propelled through a mechanism solely by human
power] to which is attached one or more auxiliary propulsion motors having a combined
maximum continuous rated power not exceeding 250 watts, of which the output is
progressively reduced and finally cut off as the vehicle reaches a speed of 25
km/h, or sooner, if the cyclist stops pedalling.
This would replace the current definition:
A pedal cycle to which is attached one or more auxiliary propulsion motors having a combined maximum power output not exceeding 200 watts.

After re-reading the paper, I'll withdraw my "happy with 350 or 500 W comment". The paper's appendix presents a pretty convincing argument about the sensible power rating v's safety risks trade-off. The 250W motor only rider could do 30.00 kph on flat, rider+motor 32.5. The latter is faster than 85% of riders measured in a survey of 1162 cyclists on Melbourne cycleways. The paper reasonably suggests the performance needs to be capped so that the power assisted riders performance is not outside the boundaries of most unassisted riders.

The paper also raises the prospect of unlicensed children riding amongst traffic at 35 kph on an e-bike. Theoretically, a freakishly athletic child could do this on a pedal-only bicycle, but we know it doesn't happen. You certainly aren't going to see 8 to 10 year olds doing it, but on an e-bike it might happen.

Guess we'll have to wait and see what the RTA puts forward, and whether it gets up

On the question of legality of power assisted bicycles under the current legislation,
the decision in [url=http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/disp.pl/au/cases/nsw/NSWSC/2008/550.html?query=^eazyride]Matheson v Director of Public Prosecutions[/url] is interesting. It was concluded that this
pedal-assisted e-bike
Image
had a motor of less than 200W capability, but it's motor was not "auxiliary". So it required registration, and the rider was fined etc.,. even though it was sold to her as not requiring registration. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Many of the BSO two-strokes where riders are often not pedalling could also be considered to have motors that are not auxiliary and fined for unregistered vehicle use.
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Re: NSW RTA set to chance electric bike laws

Postby sogood » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:27 am

wombatK wrote:After re-reading the paper, I'll withdraw my "happy with 350 or 500 W comment". The paper's appendix presents a pretty convincing argument about the sensible power rating v's safety risks trade-off. The 250W motor only rider could do 30.00 kph on flat, rider+motor 32.5. The latter is faster than 85% of riders measured in a survey of 1162 cyclists on Melbourne cycleways. The paper reasonably suggests the performance needs to be capped so that the power assisted riders performance is not outside the boundaries of most unassisted riders.

I would agree that's a good reference point, or the speed differential would be excessive, leading to additional conflicts and incidents.
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Re: NSW RTA set to change electric bike laws

Postby SmellyTofu » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:12 am

sogood wrote:Front wheel drive bikes? Watch out for under-steer! :mrgreen:


Or "hoons" doing mega FWD burnouts on bikes. I know I would have done this. It was cool to do it during my BMX days to get the rear wheels spinning on dirt.
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Re: NSW RTA set to change electric bike laws

Postby ghettro » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:43 pm

e-bike riders don't really bother me at all. How much do they weigh out of curiosity? Are they liftable?

It's the whipper snipper motor Kmart bikes I really hate, I think everyone does including pedestrians. So often you see them on clapped out kmart MTB's, not to mention they are noisy. Get some leg muscles or get a proper motorbike !
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Re: NSW RTA set to change electric bike laws

Postby wombatK » Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:04 pm

ghettro wrote:e-bike riders don't really bother me at all. How much do they weigh out of curiosity? Are they liftable?

It's the whipper snipper motor Kmart bikes I really hate, I think everyone does including pedestrians. So often you see them on clapped out kmart MTB's, not to mention they are noisy. Get some leg muscles or get a proper motorbike !

Up to 32 kg (the NSW Safety Centre report has more details).

It's the pollution, noise and riders lack of consideration of safety that worries me most about the petrol powered ones. If the riders will use these illegal vehicles in clear contravention of the registration laws, what other laws etc.,. will they be ignorant of or too arrogant to follow ?

While the RTA etc.,. carefully avoid proscrobing internal combustion engines lest someone makes a technological breakthrough, other jurisdictions have not taken such a pie-in-the-sky approach. We need at least a maximum noise requirements and pollution requirements similar to motor vehicles - even lawn mowers have noise and operating hour restrictions.
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Re: NSW RTA set to chance electric bike laws

Postby WonkyWheels » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:30 pm

I don’t have a problem with e-bikes. Though.... I’m not sure if I’ve seen one yet but I’ve seen plenty of the motorised two-stroke smoke BSO. I don’t know what is but every time I see them I can’t stop myself laughing a bit. It’s like seeing a monkey riding a bike in a circus.



sogood wrote:
wombatK wrote:After re-reading the paper, I'll withdraw my "happy with 350 or 500 W comment". The paper's appendix presents a pretty convincing argument about the sensible power rating v's safety risks trade-off. The 250W motor only rider could do 30.00 kph on flat, rider+motor 32.5. The latter is faster than 85% of riders measured in a survey of 1162 cyclists on Melbourne cycleways. The paper reasonably suggests the performance needs to be capped so that the power assisted riders performance is not outside the boundaries of most unassisted riders.

I would agree that's a good reference point, or the speed differential would be excessive, leading to additional conflicts and incidents.


Take a step back and think about the double standard here.

Hint: cars + cyclist on the road :wink:
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Re: NSW RTA set to change electric bike laws

Postby zero » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:44 pm

Hint : we were there first!
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Re: NSW RTA set to change electric bike laws

Postby WonkyWheels » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:48 pm

Wrong. Pedestrians were there first :P
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Re: NSW RTA set to change electric bike laws

Postby hartleymartin » Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:06 pm

Hang on, it was cyclists who campaigned for smoother paved roads, which the motorists are now enjoying.
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Re: NSW RTA set to chance electric bike laws

Postby lethoso » Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:13 pm

WonkyWheels wrote:Take a step back and think about the double standard here.

Hint: cars + cyclist on the road :wink:


I think the comment was in reference to cycleways/shared paths. I don't think newbie riders travelling at 30kph+ would be a safe addition to shared paths.
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Re: NSW RTA set to change electric bike laws

Postby Recycler » Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:26 pm

I helped my mate fit a 12 volt 500 watt motor on to his MTB, driving through the front chain ring. This gives him all 24 gears, Thats the way to go for me. :lol: :lol: Bob
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Re: NSW RTA set to change electric bike laws

Postby hartleymartin » Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:46 am

And the 500-Watt motor makes it non street-legal.
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