Australian Self Balance Vehicle - Personal Mobility Device (PMD) Rules
Self balancing Electric Chariots (2 wheel) and Unicycles are generally classed as Personal Mobility Devices or PMDs in the various states and territories of Australia.
ACT - Australian Capital Territory
The information below was taken from the ACT Roads Traffic Authourity. View the ACT Roads web page
Motorised Scooters, Mini-Bikes and other Motorised Devices
In the ACT all devices with a motor must be registered for use on a road or road-related area unless they are specifically exempt. (See exemptions below)
Motorised foot scooters, miniature motorbikes (also known as mini bikes, pocket bikes or monkey bikes) and other motorised recreational devices do not meet minimum Australian design standards for safety and so cannot be registered. This means they must not be used on roads or in any public areas such as footpaths, car parks and parks.
There are heavy penalties for using unregistered and uninsured vehicles. Police can also seize and take possession of unregistered vehicles.
There are some retailers who sell these vehicles and fail to warn customers that they cannot be used on roads or in public areas.
The Road Transport Legislation Amendment Act 2015, which came into effect on 22 August 2015, has the effect of prohibiting the use of bicycles powered by an internal combustion engine on roads or road related areas.
Purpose of the ban
The ban is in response to the risks posed by bicycles with internal combustion engines, following the death and injury of a number of users of these bicycles, including in the ACT. The amendment aims to improve road safety by removing the road safety hazards posed by these devices. The road safety risk created by these devices has also led Queensland and, most recently, New South Wales to ban their use on roads and road related areas.
Effect of new section
This Act amends the current definition of “bicycle” to provide that a bicycle does not include any vehicle that is powered by an internal combustion engine. The power output of the engine is irrelevant.
The result of the amendment is that a bicycle powered by an internal combustion engine is not exempt from the registration requirements in the road transport legislation and therefore must be registered if it is to be legally ridden on roads or road related areas.
In effect however, a bicycle powered by an internal combustion engine will not be able to comply with the vehicle standards for registration. Therefore, these bicycles will not be able to be registered and as such cannot legally be used on roads or road related areas.
The following vehicles (irrespective of the power output of the motor or engine) are also banned from use on roads or in public areas:
- Electric motor or petrol engine powered foot scooters (with or without a seat)
- Mini bikes or monkey bikes
- Electric motor or petrol engine powered human transporters such as the WheelMan, or SEGWAY (exemptions apply)
- Electric motor or petrol engine powered skateboards
The Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2000 describes vehicles that are exempt from registration provisions in the ACT.
Motor assisted pedal cycles with electric or petrol engines are exempt from registration, provided the maximum engine output power does not exceed 200 watts. These vehicles must have been designed as a bicycle - that is, to be propelled by human power, with the motor attached as a supplementary aid only.
Pedalecs are also exempt from registration. A Pedalec is a vehicle meeting European Committee for Standardization EN 15194:2009 Cycles – Electrically power assisted cycles – EPAC Bicycles. They have a maximum of 250 watts continuous rated power, must be pedalled to gain power assistance, have a maximum powered speed of 25km/h and may have a 6km/h twist and go capability without pedalling, to assist in getting off the line.
Riders must follow the same road rules as for pedal cycles without motors, including wearing a helmet.
Motorised wheelchairs and other types of disabled persons’ conveyances are exempt from registration and operators of these vehicles must comply with the same road rules as pedestrians. This is providing:
- They are used solely for the conveyance of a person with a disability that substantially impairs the person’s mobility.
- They are not capable of travelling at more than 10km/h.
ACT Attorney General Simon Corbell has granted a limited exemption to allow Segways to operate in the central basin area of Lake Burley Griffin. A person is able to hire a Segway from an authorised operator for use in the declared area only. Personal Segways are banned from use on roads or in public areas. This exemption started on Saturday 17th September 2011.
For further information phone Access Canberra on 13 22 81.
NSW - New South Wales
In NSW electric self balancing unicycles are treated the same as skateboards. It is generally OK to ride on the road but you should stay off busy footpaths like those in retail precincts. You are not required to have a licence or register your electric unicycle. Ride at your own risk, be courteous to pedestrians and other road users. Wear an Australian Standards certified bicycle helmet.
NSW is yet to develop rules for the public use of PMDs such as electric chariots. Drive at your own risk. Use on private property is OK. Milbay recommend drivers wear an Australian Standards bicycle helmet. Do NOT use a mobile phone whilst driving.
© Transport for New South Wales Last Updated: 24 August 2015Link to NSW transport web page
The NSW law
A pedestrian includes "a person in or on a wheeled recreational device or wheeled toy". This includes rollerblades, a skateboard, scooter, unicycle or similar wheeled device:
- Foot scooters, skateboards and rollerblades may be ridden on footpaths unless signs specifically prohibit them, however, riders must keep to the left and give way to other pedestrians
- Powered foot scooters cannot be registered and can only be used on private land
- On separated bicycle and pedestrian paths, foot scooter, skateboard and rollerblade riders must use the section designated for bicycles, but must keep out of the path of any bicycle
- Foot scooters, skateboards and rollerblades can only be used on the road during daylight hours
- They cannot be used on roads with a dividing line or median strip or a speed limit greater than 50km/h, or a one-way road with more than one marked lane
- On the footpath, riders of foot scooters, skateboards or rollerblades should not threaten pedestrians, especially the elderly – they may need to slow down or dismount in busy areas
- To improve safety and enjoyment, foot scooters, skateboards and rollerblades are best ridden in recreational areas designated for their use
- Foot scooter, skateboard and rollerblade riders should wear helmets and protective gear such as knee and elbow pads
- The use of foot scooters, skateboards and rollerblades on the road is not recommended for school-aged or younger children
What are motorised wheelchairs?
Motorised wheelchairs are mobility aids with two or more wheels and have a top speed of 10km/h on level ground. Mobility scooters or 'gophers' are classified as motorised wheelchairs. A motorised wheelchair does not include a wheeled recreational device such as a motor scooter, pram, stroller, trolley or any other motor-assisted machine.
Who may use them?
Motorised wheelchairs are specially built to transport people who are unable to walk, or have difficulty walking.
Must they be registered in NSW?
No, motorised wheelchairs do not require registration in NSW. They do not require third party insurance.
Do users need a licence?
No, a licence is not needed to use a motorised wheelchair in NSW.
Is a user a pedestrian or a driver?
A motorised wheelchair user is generally considered to be a pedestrian, and must comply with the NSW Road Rules that apply to pedestrians. To ensure motorised wheelchairs can mix safely with other pedestrians, they must meet the requirements of NSW Road Rules 2008.
Requirements of motorised wheelchairs
A motorised wheelchair in NSW must:
- Not have the capacity to travel faster than 10 km/h
As a user, you must:
- Never exceed 10 km/h
- Have a reasonable need to use a wheelchair because of physical disability or limited mobility
- Obey all pedestrian road rules
- Not cause a traffic hazard by moving into the path of a driver
- Not unreasonably obstruct the path of another driver or pedestrian
- Not be affected by alcohol or drugs when travelling on a road or road-related area such as a footpath
To use a motorised wheelchair safely, you must be able to:
- Operate controls and manoeuvre the wheelchair
- Keep your balance and adjust your body position when travelling across uneven ground
- Spot obstacles and avoid collisions
- Judge speeds and distances
- Make good judgements to protect your safety and others
Alcohol mixed with prescription or other drugs may further affect your ability to operate a motorised wheelchair safely. If you are concerned about your ability to use a motorised wheelchair, your doctor or healthcare professional may be able to arrange an assessment by an accredited occupational therapist.
How to travel safely
- Plan a route that allows access to a footpath for the entire journey
- Know where there are kerb ramps or driveways you can use for safe crossings
- Take extra care when leaving the kerb to cross the road
- Wait until the traffic has stopped before travelling onto a pedestrian crossing
- Always be prepared to stop for pedestrians
- Watch for vehicles entering and leaving driveways
- Avoid highways, roundabouts, major roads and heavy vehicles
- If you are forced to use roads, travel on quieter streets, keep to the side and face oncoming traffic wherever possible
- Attach a safety flag to your chair high enough above your head to be visible to others
- If possible, attach rear view mirrors to your chair
- If you must travel at night, use lights and reflectors to aid visibility
- If possible, check out a new route beforehand to make sure it is suitable for a motorised wheelchair
- For more information on planning a safe route, contact your local council's access committee
Can users travel on a footpath or on a nature strip?
Provided that the safety rules listed above are met, a motorised wheelchair may be used on a footpath and on a nature strip.
Can motorised wheelchair users travel on shared paths?
A shared path is an area open to the public for use by riders of bicycles and pedestrians. Provided that the safety rules listed above are met, a motorised wheelchair may be used on a shared path.
What is the difference between a bicycle path and a bicycle lane and can a motorised wheelchair travel on these?
A bicycle path is an area that looks like a footpath designated for the use of bicycles. A bicycle lane is an area that is a part of a road but is designated for the use of bicycles.
The Centre for Road Safety does not encourage motorised wheelchair users to travel on either a bicycle path or a bicycle lane. However, a motorised wheelchair may cross a bicycle path or lane, use a bicycle path if there are no signs that prohibit use, and use a bicycle lane up to a distance of 50 metres to avoid obstruction.
Contacts for assistance
- Independent Living Centre NSW Phone: 1300 885 886
- Aged and disability services at your local council
- Occupational therapy department at your local hospital
- Aged care assessment team at your local health centre
NT - Northern Territory
QLD - Queensland
Queensland defines Self Balance Vehicles as a Personal Mobility Device (PMD). Full details of the conditions and restrictions that apply to PMDs can be found in section 244 of the Queensland Road Rules.
Personal mobility devices
Rules updated 03 july 2014
A personal mobility device (PMD) can be used on road related areas such as footpaths, bike paths and shared paths around Queensland. PMDs must comply with the following criteria:
- Be designed for use by a single person (no passenger).
- Be self-balancing (while in use).
- Be powered by an electric motor.
- Have 2 wheels that operate on a single axis.
- Have a maximum speed of 20km/h.
- Have a control to limit speed to 12km/h or less.
- Have a maximum width of 850mm.
- Have a maximum weight of 60kg when not carrying a person or load.
Rules for using personal mobility devices
A range of conditions and restrictions apply to the use of approved PMDs on road related areas. People caught not following these conditions will be fined.
A PMD operator must:
- be aged 16 and over to operate a PMD unsupervised (fine—$113)
- be supervised by an adult if aged between 12 and 15 (fine—$113)
- wear an approved bicycle helmet that is securely fitted (fine—$113)
- keep left when travelling on a path (fine—$75)
- give way to pedestrians on a path (fine—$75)
- keep left to oncoming bicycles and PMDs on a path (fine—$68)
- have a working warning device, such as a bell or horn (fine—$45)
- have a working flashing or steady white light at the front, a red light and a red reflector at the rear to use at night or in hazardous conditions (fine—$44).
A PMD operator must not:
- travel faster than 12km/hour (fine—$151)
- travel along a road unless there is an obstruction or it is impractical—in these instances a PMD is allowed to travel up to 50m on the road (fine—$113)
(Note: PMD users may stay on their device to cross a road at a designated crossing.)
- carry any passengers (fine—$45)
- use a hand-held mobile phone while operating a PMD (fine—$341)
- drink alcohol while operating a PMD (fine—$113)
- travel past a 'PMD prohibited' sign (fine—$45).
Local councils and land owners can prohibit PMDs in areas not appropriate for their use, for example in some malls, esplanades or jetties. The following sign will be displayed in these areas and PMD operators must not travel past this sign. Get information on where you can and can't use PMDs from your local council.
Full details of the conditions and restrictions that apply to PMDs can be found in section 244 of the Queensland Road Rules.
SA - South Australia
Link to SA police news letter March 2014.
Talking Road Safety - Personal Mobility Device in South Australia
The Adelaide city council has or is in the process of reviewing this situation as part of the 100% renewables campaign, more updates when available.
TAS - Tasmania
Motorised Scooters (wheeled recreational devices)
PLEASE NOTE: Motorised scooters referred to here DO NOT include motorised wheelchairs or the typical electric scooters used by people with mobility difficulties
For the purposes of the Road Rules these low powered motorised scooters will be treated the same as riders of foot-powered scooters, skateboards and rollerblades (ie 'wheeled recreational devices').
A person riding a motorised scooter that is powered by a motor or motors not exceeding a maximum power output of 200 watts, will now be permitted to ride on paths and some roads. These are motorised scooters having two or more wheels and a footboard supported by the wheels, steered by handlebars and designed to be used by one person.
The new rules
The riders of motorised scooters will in future be required to wear an approved bicycle helmet; and as with other wheeled recreational devices, motorised scooters:
- can be used on paths and roads where the speed limit is 50 km/h or less but cannot be used on roads with dividing lines or median strips;
- must keep to the left on roads and paths and must not be ridden two abreast;
- must not be used on the road at night except if crossing by the shortest route, for example at an intersection, although they can be used on paths at night; and
- must give way to walkers and be ridden with due care and attention.
If you intend riding a motorised scooter make sure the scooter does not have a motor (or motors) with a power output that exceeds 200 watts, wear an approved bicycle helmet and obey all of the road rules applying to the riders of wheeled recreational devices.
Also do not use a motorised scooter in areas that display either of the signs below.
Road safety reasons
Unless properly used, wheeled recreational devices including small motorised scooters can be dangerous. Scooter riders often move quicker than walkers and joggers and drivers might have difficulty seeing you in traffic. Remember, drivers are more likely to be looking out for cars and other vehicles, not small scooters.
Walkers on paths are sometimes surprised by scooter riders or skaters and often can't hear you approaching, which is why you must give way to them and keep to the left so they know where you are going.
VIC - Victoria
Rules in Victoria are similar to NSW. For more information see the links below or check the local council bylaws as approaches may vary especially in the inner city.
WA - Western Australia
The information below was taken from the WA Government Road Safety Commission. View the WA Government Road Safety Commission web page
What is a Motorised Scooter?
To qualify as a motorised scooter, the device must have a maximum power output of not more than 200 watts, must not be able to travel faster than 10 km/h on level ground and can only have electric motors.
While some small, motorised scooters can travel on roads legally, other motorised vehicles cannot be used on the roads.
electric scooters with power outputs of more than 200 watts.
Bicycles with power assistance of less than 200 watts continue to be classed as power-assisted pedal cycles.
Motorised gophers and other scooters used for mobility are not considered to be motorised scooters for the purposes of traffic law. They are classified as Motorised Wheelchairs.
Where Can I Use My Motorised Scooter?
Small, motorised scooters can be used:
on paths (except on the pedestrian part of a separated footpath), but must keep left and give way to all pedestrians
on local roads during daylight where the speed limit of the road is not more than 50 km/h and there is no median strip, painted island, dividing line or more than one lane. The rider must keep left at all times.
They may be inexpensive and lots of fun, but if ridden improperly motorised scooters can cause injury. Because of this, a number of rules and regulations apply.
A motorised scooter can only be powered by an electric motor with a maximum output of no more than 200 watts. It must have a manufacturer’s plate or engraving that certifies the motor’s output. If the scooter has an engine with a power output of 200 watts or more then it is not classed as a motorised scooter and must be registered as a motorcycle.
It must not be capable of exceeding 10 km/h on level ground when propelled by the motor.
It must be fitted with a bell or horn and riders must wear a helmet. It is also recommended, but not compulsory, that riders wear protective clothing, footwear and equipment such as knee and elbow pads.
The scooter can be used on paths (except on the pedestrian section of a separated footpath), but must keep left and give way to pedestrians.
They can also be used on local roads during daylight hours where the speed limit is not more than 50 km/h and there is no median strip, painted island, dividing line or more than one lane. The rider must keep left at all times.
Riders cannot travel alongside pedestrians or other vehicles unless overtaking nor can they travel within two metres of the rear of a motor vehicle or attach themselves to, or be drawn by, another vehicle.
A licence is not needed to use these scooters. However, it is an offence to travel on a motorised scooter while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and to drive/ride in a reckless manner.
These rules have been designed to keep riders and other road users safe. Please follow them and, please, ride safely.
Skateboarding, Rollerskating, Non-Motorised Scooter Riding, Rollerblading
Skateboarders, non-motorised scooter riders, rollerskaters and rollerbladers are considered to be pedestrians under the Road Traffic Code 2000. Rollerskates, skateboards and non-motorised scooters are classed as wheeled toys if used by someone aged under 12, and as wheeled recreational devices if used by someone aged over 12.
Riders can’t be towed by another vehicle, including a bicycle. This applies to both the scooter rider or skater attaching themselves to a vehicle, and the driver of the vehicle allowing them to do so.
Scooter riders and skaters can’t travel within 2 metres of the back of a motor vehicle for a distance of more than 200 metres.
Where Can You Ride?
Skateboarders, non-motorised scooter riders, rollerskaters and rollerbladers are allowed to use footpaths and shared paths. They must keep to the left and give way to pedestrians.
Non-motorised scooters, rollerbladers, inline-skaters and skateboarders can use roads but only:
in daylight hours;
on local roads that do not have white lines or median islands; and
on roads which have speed limits of 50 km/h or less.
These road users must keep to the left.
Helmets are recommended for the safety of rollerskaters, skateboarders and scooter riders.
There are also safe and legal venues on private property or on land set aside for skating and non-motorised scooter riding. Local councils can provide information about safe places to skate and ride.
What is the Best Protective Gear?
Most injuries are on the hand, wrist and elbow as the rider tries to break their fall. Protective gear such as elbow and knee pads are a good idea.
While helmets are not compulsory, they are recommended. Head injuries can be prevented by wearing helmets.
Hoverboards, despite their name, are actually two-wheeled self-balancing electric scooters. As they are propelled by a motor, they are technically considered as ‘motor vehicles’ under various pieces of Western Australian legislation. ‘Hoverboards’, however, do not meet the requirements for registration and so are illegal to ride on the road.
‘Hoverboards’ are also illegal on shared paths and footpaths because they can travel over 25km/h, do not have adequate brakes, lights or other warning indicators and so cannot interact safely with other road users, such as pedestrians. This means that ‘hoverboards’ can only be ridden on private property and only with the consent of the landowner.
If you are going to ride a ‘hoverboard’ on private property, please remember to wear protective gear (i.e. helmets, knee and elbow pads, shoes, etc) as there is the potential for injury if you fall off at speed.
Please also be aware that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has issued a warning about the risk of ‘hoverboards’ catching fire while being ridden or while charging. If you must buy a ‘hoverboard’, which retail between $200 to $2,400 each, the ACCC recommends you check that it is marked with the Australian regulatory compliance symbol – a tick surrounded by a triangle.
‘Hoverboards’ might be the ‘hot ticket’ item on Christmas lists this year but please keep safety in mind before purchasing.
Other Australian Territories
Page last updated: 16 December 2015