Page 1615 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 7 May 2013

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Lord Mayor Boris Johnson’s stated aim is a city where cycling will be treated not as a niche, marginal or an afterthought, but as what it is—an integral part of the transport network, with the capital spending, road space and traffic planners’ attention befitting that role. This government also believes that cycling must be an integral part of the transport network and our efforts over recent years are helping to achieve that reality. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations and Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development) (11.20), in reply: I thank members for their support of this bill. As members have indicated, the bill amends the Road Transport (General) Act 1999 to change the definition of bicycle to allow the use of European style power-assisted cycles, known as pedalecs, in the Australian Capital Territory.

A pedalec is a newer, higher performance category of electric bicycle with a maximum continuous power rating of 250 watts. Currently, bicycles with auxiliary motors are exempt from the requirement to be registered as a vehicle under the road transport legislation if their maximum engine output power does not exceed 200 watts at the engine’s peak. This bill will retain the current 200 watts limit for non-pedalec type electric bikes while also allowing pedalecs to be legally used on roads and road-related areas in the ACT.

The difference between a pedalec and a conventional electric bicycle is that pedalecs have a number of innovative safety features. Power assistance on a pedalec cuts out at 25 kilometres per hour preventing users from coasting at high speeds. Pedalec riders can go faster than 25 kilometres per hour but they need to pedal. The battery will not provide any extra power above this speed. Pedalecs also operate with a mandatory pedal assist mode, which means that the pedals must be pushed to activate the motor above speeds of six kilometres per hour. The allowance for power application below seven kilometres per hour without pedalling assists riders starting from rest or riders riding uphill.

Conventional electric bicycles are throttle controlled, meaning that the engine can be operated without pedalling allowing the engine to do the work for the rider. A 200 watt electric bicycle will allow the rider to travel up to approximately 27 kilometres per hour on flat ground. The safety features of pedalecs mean that they are safe to be used in a cycling environment, whereas simply increasing the power threshold past 200 watts would permit the use of higher powered electric bicycles that do not possess these safety features.

This change mirrors similar changes that have already been made in most Australian states or which are being progressed in others such as Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The amendments follow the commonwealth’s May 2012 amendment to the Australian design rules to adopt a new vehicle category of pedalec, which allowed the importation of pedalecs for supply and marketing within Australia.

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