Page 1611 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 7 May 2013

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lobbied on for several years. Members may recall former ACT Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur presenting an active transport plan to the Assembly in 2010. One of its recommendations was to start planning and building infrastructure that would accommodate a large increase in electric bicycles. It also called for an extension to the permitted wattage of electric bikes beyond 200 watts, provided safety could be maintained, and that is what the passing of the bill today will achieve.

Prior to this change, the permitted wattage for electric bikes was only 200 watts. Any bike with a higher wattage was not treated as a bicycle under the road rules, meaning it was not permitted in bike lanes or on paths and it was expected to be registered. The new 250 watts standard will be subject to some additional limitations, in that the bicycles will need to meet the European committee standard on electrically power assisted bicycles. Under these requirements, for example, the motor only provides pedal assistance up to 25 kilometres an hour. In this way they are significantly different than moped-style bikes and are therefore safer. It is important to have consideration of the different speeds and power of different users sharing the same space. Bikes that meet this European standard are called pedalec bikes.

Small as it might sound, permitting an additional 50 watts on an electric bike’s motor will make a big difference. 250 watts is a common international standard for electric bikes. The ACT will now be open to a much wider range of reliable 250-watt bikes, giving consumers a greater range of machines which they might access. I am interested to see if other opportunities open up as well in terms of perhaps further suppliers in the ACT and the like. In other countries, employers sometimes encourage employees to use electric bikes for commuting by including them in company travel plans or by leasing them. There are various companies specialising in leasing electric bikes across Europe. Perhaps this is the sort of development that we might see in the ACT once the passage of this legislation takes place and there is a greater availability of electrically assisted bicycles in the ACT.

As the bikes are more powerful, they are likely to be more attractive to people who are thinking of using them as transport. These are often people who may not otherwise use a standard bicycle, particularly those who are less fit, have mobility issues or are ageing. The extra speed and the ease of using an electric bike also make it a useful vehicle for commuters. People who previously found it too far to ride to work or another common destination may consider commuting using an electric bicycle. Members may also be interested in the research done by an organisation called PRESTO as part of a project on travel done for the European Union. It said:


that is, the European-style electric bicycle—

are also very well suited for civil servants and politicians who regularly have to travel short distances for work. Pedelecs allow them to ride without getting out of breath and without sweating, regardless whether the ground is flat or hilly. Moreover, the fact that they opt for sustainable mobility will have a positive influence on public opinion.

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