Page 1613 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 7 May 2013
standards. Obviously, as more and more people take up cycling, we see congestion in some areas. I have already received my first representation asking for a widening of the bike paths in inner north Canberra because there is “so much congestion on them in the morning commute”. This is an interesting thing that perhaps some of us would not have anticipated happening in the ACT.
In closing, simply let me thank the government for bringing this amendment forward. For all the reasons I have just outlined, I think that this will be very beneficial for a whole range of people across Canberra and will hopefully contribute to more people taking up bicycle riding, even if assisted by electric bikes, and therefore delivering a range of benefits for the whole community.
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (11.13): This bill changes the road transport legislation to permit pedalecs—which, as we have heard, is the common term for European-style power-assisted cycles—to be used in the Australian Capital Territory. The changes in this bill will benefit cyclists and the bicycle industry, as well as the wider Canberra community, and reflect the government’s commitment to increasing cycling rates in the ACT.
This bill permits the use of pedalecs by amending the definition of “bicycle” in the road transport legislation. This amendment is necessary as the current definition of “bicycle” excludes bicycles that have an auxiliary motor with an output of over 200 watts. As previous speakers have indicated, a pedalec is a newer category of electric bicycle with a maximum continuous power rating of 250 watts, which exceeds the current threshold of 200 watts.
While a pedalec is more powerful than other electric bicycles currently available to be ridden in the ACT, it incorporates additional safety features. A pedalec-type bicycle is unique in that the power assistance provided by the electric motor cuts out when the bicycle reaches 25 kilometres an hour. In addition, power assistance is only provided at speeds above six kilometres per hour when the pedals are being used. If the rider does not pedal then the motor does not turn on. The motor on a pedalec will operate to assist the rider at speeds below seven kilometres an hour to help riders taking off, which is particularly useful when cycling uphill. Once the bicycle reaches a fast walking speed then the rider will have to pedal to continue to receive power assistance from the electric engine.
This bill does not change the power limit for non-pedalec electric bicycles, which will continue to be subject to the 200-watt limit. It is not appropriate to allow more powerful motorised bicycles that lack the safety features that pedalec-type bicycles have onto Canberra streets, bike paths and footpaths. This restriction is the same as that applied across Australia and it is important that there continues to be consistency in regulation of bicycles across jurisdictions.
This government has long recognised the benefits of cycling as a form of active transport. We have been active in encouraging cycling, recognising the health, environmental and social benefits that cycling can deliver. A recent example of this commitment is the Civic cycle loop, the first two stages of which were recently opened by this government. These Copenhagen-style bike lanes will particularly