I am in the market for an electric skateboard and was wondering where I am legally aloud to ride it? There are a lot of bike paths around my home and the commute to work so can it be used on them even if I need to wear a helmet? Thanks, Sk8er Boi
Electric skateboard image from Shutterstock
Under Australian Road Rules, electric skateboards are listed as "wheeled recreational devices." This is a separate category to bicycles which includes scooters, rollerblades, skateboards and electric devices with a motor under 200 watts.
Unlike cyclists, skateboarders are classed as pedestrians. This means you cannot ride your electric skateboard on roads with median strips, one-way roads with more than one marked lane or any road where the speed limit is greater than 50 kilometres per hour.
You are, however, permitted to cross the aforementioned roads when it's the shortest possible route to the other side. For example, if you needed to get to a skate park and the road in between has a speed limit of 60km/h, you do not have to get off your skateboard while crossing (provided all other road rules are being adhered to.)
You must also refrain from riding on any road at night. Electric skateboards can only be used during daylight hours.
When travelling on a footpath, the rules you need to follow are quite similar to bicycle riders. As outlined in Part 14, REG 242 of the Australian Road Rules:
"A person travelling in or on a wheeled recreational device or wheeled toy on a footpath or shared path must keep to the left of the footpath or shared path unless it is impracticable to do so.
"[You must] give way to any pedestrian (except a person travelling in or on a wheeled recreational device or wheeled toy) who is on the footpath or shared path."
This means you are legally obliged to slow down and, if necessary, stop to avoid a collision with people walking on the same footpath. (In other words, use common sense.)
Naturally, you can't ride on any footpath that's posted with a sign prohibiting the use of recreational devices, such as the one depicted above.
Interestingly, while electric skateboarders need to follow the same footpath rules as bicycles, they are still considered pedestrians when encountering a bike:
"Bicycle riders on footpaths and shared paths must give way to persons travelling in or on wheeled recreational devices or toys."
The law isn't clear on whether you need to wear a helmet while riding an electric skateboard. Currently, motorbikes, bicycles and motorised scooters are the only vehicles that are specifically mentioned by the Australian Transport Council. However, we strongly advise wearing one regardless of what the rules are -- according to a recent study by the University of Sydney, you are 5.5 times more likely to suffer a severe head injury when riding without a helmet. Stay sensible.
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