Cycling in Melbourne Australia
In Europe new 250 watt pedelecs regulations in 2011 will, reduce urban pollution, provide sustainable mobility of young and elderly riders and contribute to a more liveable future.
The 250 watt “pedelec” is the safest electric bicycle. Designed in Japan and mass produced in Europe and China in the last 3 years. 250 watt electric bicycles and pedelecs have been banned in Australia since 2001. It offers a simple, healthy and viable alternative to much motor vehicle travel in urban areas. The New 2011 EU regulations and Australia should adopt them for 7 reasons.
1. In 2008 pedelecs were considered safe and used in countries with overall low road death rates per 100,000 population: Netherlands and Sweden 4.0, Japan 4.7, Germany 5.4 and China 5.7. All lower than Australia with 6.8 in 2009.
2. pedelecs make productive use of public transport by enlarging PT catchment areas and making cross suburban travel much easier across radiating rail and express bus networks.
3. Riding a bicycle uses the ergonomic ‘mechanical advantage’ of pedalling over walking to go 3.5 times as far, making tenfold more homes accessible to railway stations. Pedelecs are even better and free up car marking space. Five Pedlecs can be parked in one car parking space.
4. Millions of the elderly find walking and driving too stressful. In 1990 Japan conducted research which found that elderly cyclists needed bicycles with auxiliary motors that took 50% less effort to pedal, and contributed to their own overall wellness and mobility.
5. pedelecs look similar to bicycles( see figure 1) with male, female, fold up and tricycle frames; have wheels 20 to 28 inches; weigh 15 kg to 25 kg.; have automatic start by ignition key; cutting out at 25 Km/hr; and use EU approved lithium batteries.
6 pedelec designs with regenerative braking when slowing or going down hill extend the life or range of batteries. They can also be charged during the day from solar cells.
7. At night pedelecs could be charged with off peak mains electricity or from “back up batteries” in pedelec 'stables' at places of work, study, shop or play,.
The “back up batteries” would be charged from roof top solar cells during the day. In future pedelecs have the potential to reduce peak hour loads on power stations.
1. History of electric bicycle legislation in Australia
The regulatory framework in Australia is complex. Due to having a Federation of States and Territories each of which had its own road traffic rules until the year 2001 when national uniform traffic laws were adopted by the Australian Federal Government, known as “The Model Australian Road Rules”. They were initially approved by the states’ Transport Ministers. By 2010 they had all failed to create uniform road rules for electric bicycles (E-bikes) and electric scooters (E-scooters) in their home states. At this time National Bicycle Committee is attempting to deal with this problem.
As the time of writing Australian consumers are constrained from buying the best and safest pedelecs on the world market. This is so because Australia does not manufacture electric bicycles and bans the importing of E-bikes and pedelecs with electric motors of 250 watts, which are fitted to nearly all potential imports. The States’ bicycle importers, assemblers, wholesalers, retailers, and some transport researchers have been advocating an upgrade of the road rules in 2011 by increasing the current 200 watt limit to 250 watts. Also needed in 2011 is compliance with EU safety standards for ion lithium batteries and E-bike parts.
In 2010 the European Twowheeler Retailers’ Association (ETRA) was given an opportunity to explain in detail to the European Parliament why the European Union’s (EU) new 2011 regulations for the review of the type-approval for two- and three-wheel motor vehicles is not well adapted to E-bikes and E-scooters and creates even more confusion than the previous legislation, In the individual EU countries. . Therefore a Member of European Parliament, Wim van de Camp, invited the ETRA to make a submission to the EU. The ETRA submitted a proposal based on two main principles applying to E-bikes and E-scooters.
1. Exclusion of all cycles with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h in order to allow the EU to amend EN 15194, the current standard. This would exempt these vehicles from the type-approval procedure and they would be classified as bicycles. As a result they could be used In the EU without helmets, drivers’ licences or insurance.
2. E-scooters with pedals, up to 45 km/h cycles that can be propelled by the motor itself, would still be subject to type-approval but the procedure would be adapted to suit so that unnecessary requirements would not apply. Australia has no mechanism of adapting to this EU requirement.
Clearly a planning opportunity exists for the Australian Commonwealth Government to give consumers and importers what they want by adopting EU E-bicycle and pedelec regulations, with the exception of compulsory helmet wearing. Indeed China is a major Australian trading partner and can mass produce safe pedelecs to EU standards for the Australian market at low cost.
However there are some planning and political constraints to be overcome. Like the US government, the Australian government is holding office by the slimmest of margins.
Furthermore, Australia has a new Federal Government with a reshuffle of government departments, new advisory groups and the need to implement new election promises. Added to this, like the rest of the world, Australia has been struggling to deal with the global financial crisis and the need to adapt to climate change and future oil shortages. Pedelecs are a case where the devil is in the detail and may be ignored by the bigger issues even though pedelecs in the long term may contribute to dealing with these bigger issues and making our cities more liveable
Feel free to use electric mopeds as freely as any other vehicle. However, they are still motoring rather than cycling and they're no safer (nor anymore dangerous, either) than any other lightweight, 2-wheeled personal transport. As I say, feel free to ride an electric, it's better than using a car, but it's not cycling, it's motoring. That's not snobbery on my part, even toyed with getting one* for trailer hauling, but posting about them here is a bit like Honda posting about motorcycles here and calling them bicycles.
(*The reason I decided against one is the batteries are an environmental disaster from manufacture all the way through disposal and beyond.)
We offer pedelec bicycles from Denmark which are EN 15194 certified. All are max. 200W and therefore comply with the current Australian regulations. From a visit to Eurobike last year I can say that Europe has embraced the pedelec concept.
At the exhibition I attended a presentation where an industry consultant made the comment that "the pedelec is the trojan horse of the bicycle industry"
4. Millions of the elderly find walking and driving too stressful.
I don't believe that riding an electric bicycle either on the road or the pavement would be any less stressful for the elderly
I am 75 years old, 95 Kg in weight, have a heart pacemaker , stent and have osteoarthritis in my right ankle and knee. My measured power output on an exercise bike is only 75 watts. My cardiologist tells me that to exert no more effort on my bicycle that I do on my exercise bike. This means that to get up hills without stopping, I have to rest for 2 minutes which is a major constraint. I have used a 200 watt electric bike and find that the 200 watts helps on slight inclines but no use on most hills.
I have been riding a bicycle for 65 years and never driven a car and the information I have from the Netherlands and Japan that elderly persons find that the 250 watt pedelec solves their mobility problem and maintains their need to carry on cycling. Furthermore Mopeds where banned in the Netherlands and are motor vehicles. In 2001 the Model Australia Road Rules enacted the ban on pedelecs with the 200 watt rule. However early in 2011 there is some recognition of the need for EU regulations in Australia. The Australia e-bike rule has created a hidden restriction of free trade with major trading partners and denied consumers freedom to buy the safest 250 watt pedelecs.
No state transport agency would dare ban the imports of Japan’s other energy efficient and greenhouse friendly vehicles and enrage consumers. (Parker 2008).
Another fact that is certain is their are millions of Australians over 65 with less power in their legs for whom pedelecs and E-bikes will provides welcome extra power assistance.
For the most part, it appears that most older drivers compensate for the changes associated with ageing in Australia by driving cars (Monash ). The problem for those who do not have the choice of driving a car, or who prefer to exercise for health reasons and have difficulty with walking, is that they need power assistance in order to ride a bicycle effectively, particularly in hilly areas.
A submission made by this writer to the NSW RTA recommends that a 650 watt limit would be appropriate for E-bike users in hilly areas and with a proven medical need, as applied in New Zealand at at the discretion of the Minister for Transport