What you need to know about e-scooters

Couple on Beam e-scooters

Clare Barry

Posted May 05, 2021

Victorians will soon have a chance to hire e-scooters, but are they safe and what are the rules for riding them? 

E-scooters look set to become more common on Victoria’s streets as the government plans to trial e-scooter hire schemes in selected areas around the state. 

The government has called for expressions of interest from private operators to run the trials in three local government areas, including two metropolitan and one regional council. 

The trials, which will run for up to a year, will help inform whether any road rules need to be adjusted to accommodate the growing interest in e-scooters. 

RACV has welcomed the trials as an important step in making e-scooters more readily available as an affordable, convenient and low-emissions alternative form of transport.

RACV’s senior manager transport, planning and infrastructure, Peter Kartsidimas, says using an e-scooter to get around has many benefits. “They are often a cheaper and more reliable form of transport that is better for the environment and less likely to get stuck in traffic.”

He says the upcoming trial will give the government an opportunity to examine what will encourage the take-up of e-scooters, as well as how to keep riders safe. 

“We know from a survey we conducted at the end of 2019 that almost 80 per cent of Victorians would consider using an e-scooter and almost 60 per cent would use one instead of a car,” says Peter. 

“In 2020, we saw many Victorians consider alternative mobility options as a way to explore and connect with their local communities. Now many people are looking to integrate these mobility options in their day-to-day lives.”  

E-scooters are widely used in many cities around the world – including Stockholm, Berlin and Paris, which has around 15,000 e-scooters on its streets. 

In Victoria, e-scooters are currently permitted on footpaths and some roads, but must not travel faster than 10kmh and motors must not exceed 200 watts in power. The government has indicated it is looking at increasing the speed limit to 20kmh, but banning anyone under the age of 18 from riding.

Road rules for e-scooters differ significantly between states and territories. For example they may be ridden at up to 25kmh on footpaths and some streets in Queensland, but are banned from roads and footpaths in NSW. RACV has long called for a national approach to personal mobility devices, including e-scooters, to encourage their safe use. 

As part of its ongoing support for affordable, low-emissions micro-mobility transport options, RACV’s arevo journey planner app has formed a partnership with Beam Mobility, which operates e-scooter hire schemes in 18 cities including Adelaide, Canberra and Bunbury. If successful in a bid to become part of the e-scooter trial, they will work together to provide education and safety-focused initiatives to Victorians. Beam e-scooters would also be integrated into the arevo real-time journey planner app. 

“RACV is committed to providing Victorians with information on and access to the range of transport options that are available,” says RACV general manager arevo mobility, Elizabeth Kim. “By partnering with Beam, arevo by RACV is creating greater awareness of micro-mobility services such as e-scooters and e-bikes, and how they can be used safely for daily transport needs.” 

In 2020, many Victorians explored alternative mobility options as a way to explore and connect with their local communities.
E-scooters can have a top speed of 100kmh or more, but in Victoria they are not permitted to travel faster than 10kmh.

11 things you need to know about e-scooters

1. What is an e-scooter?

According to the official VicRoads definition, an e-scooter is a vehicle with a footboard set between front and back wheels, steered by handlebars and powered by an electric motor. 

2. How fast do they go? 

E-scooters can have a top speed of 100kmh or more, but in Victoria they are not permitted to travel faster than 10kmh – about twice as fast as a brisk walking pace – when ridden in public areas. The government has indicated it is considering raising the speed limit to 20kmh.

3. Can they be ridden on the road, footpath or bike paths? 

In Victoria, e-scooters with a top speed of 10kmh and motor of 200 watts or less is considered a ‘wheeled recreational device’ and can be ridden on footpaths, shared paths, bike paths, in parks (unless a ‘no wheeled recreational devices’ sign prohibits it) and on roads with a speed limit of 50kmh or below. They cannot be ridden in bike lanes. 

Public transport and roads minister Ben Carroll has indicated that participants in the upcoming e-scooter hire trial will be allowed to travel at 20kmh on bike paths, local roads and shared paths, but that private e-scooters that don’t meet current speed and power limits will still be banned.

4. Do I need a licence to ride one? 


5. Do I need to be a certain age to ride one? 

Currently people of any age can ride, but the government has indicated it is considering imposing a minimum age limit of 18 years. 

6. What safety gear do I need? 

By law, e-scooter riders must wear an Australian Standards-approved bicycle helmet. RACV also recommends wearing additional safety equipment such as knee and elbow pads. The e-scooter must have at least one effective brake and a bell or horn. If riding in the dark, the scooter must have a white light at the front and a red light and red reflector at the back. 

7. Are they safe? 

Like other forms of active transport including bikes, there are risks to using e-scooters, but riders can minimise the risks by sticking to the speed limit, slowing down in high-pedestrian areas, being aware and mindful of other road and footpath users, and wearing helmets and other safety gear. 

8. What road rules apply when riding an e-scooter? 

Under current Victorian road rules, if your e-scooter cannot travel faster than 10kmh on level ground and has a motor of 200 watts or less, you can ride it in the public spaces described above. You must follow the same road rules as a pedestrian, including keeping left when on a footpath.

In Victoria, a scooter powered by a petrol motor, or one that is faster or more powerful than 200 watts, cannot be legally used in any public area including roads and footpaths. The fine for doing so is $826. More powerful or faster e-scooters can only be used legally on private property. 

The government has indicated that e-scooter hire trial participants will be allowed to travel at 20kmh on bike paths, local roads and shared paths, but that private e-scooters that don”t meet current legal requirements will be banned.

9. How do our rules compare with other states? 

In Queensland e-scooters can be used on footpaths and some streets at 25kmh, and in the ACT at 15kmh on footpaths and 25kmh on shared/bike paths. Western Australian and Tasmanian rules roughly mirror Victoria’s. In New South Wales it’s illegal to ride e-scooters on roads and footpaths, also in South Australia and the Northern Territory, with the exception of council-run trials.  

10. How far can they travel before recharging? 

The range for different e-scooters varies between models, from as little as 10 kilometres to as much as 110 kilometres between charges. 

11. Can I buy my own e-scooter? 

Yes you can. E-scooters can be bought at many bike or scooter shops or online, and range in price from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. Most are too fast or powerful to be ridden legally outside private property, but they can still be legally sold in Victoria.