Posted by Big Gav in electric bikes
The SMH reports that electric bikes might get greater encouragement from the local regulators - RTA changes could be boost for electric bikes
ELECTRIC bikes could be the answer to traffic congestion, the obesity crisis and our carbon footprint. But over-regulation and a cycling culture that looks down on battery-assisted bikes as "cheating" have slowed their take-up in Australia, enthusiasts say.
However, changes proposed by the RTA could allow more powerful models on our roads.
The bikes do not need to be registered as long as their maximum power is 200 watts or less. But some models can have throttle control and resemble mopeds, with users being booked for riding them without registration.
''The beauty of this is people who are way past riding a bike can suddenly ride again. It integrates casual exercise into people's daily lives,'' says Mike Rubbo, 71, a filmmaker and e-bike enthusiast who runs the blog situp-cycle.com. ''It's the ideal urban transport vehicle.''
Overseas, e-bikes with up to 1000-watt motors are permitted in some jurisdictions. European e-bikes are typically 250 watts. In response to a growing push to allow e-bikes without registration to be used in Australia, the RTA has submitted a report to the federal government proposing changes to regulations.
"Times have changed and bikes have changed so they need to bring the law into line with Europe, which is what they're proposing," said Paul van Bellen, co-owner of Gazelle Bicycles Australia, a "bikes for transport" shop in Matraville.
The SMH also has a report on haggling over a Sydney light rail plan (probably a fantasy, like most state government transport initiatives) - Bureaucrats want light rail stops every 700m - passengers or not.
The Sydney Metro Authority folded last month after the Premier, Kristina Keneally, abandoned the controversial $5.3 billion, seven-kilometre underground line between Central and Rozelle and announced instead an extension of the light rail to Dulwich Hill and a line between Central and Barangaroo.
Under a proposal the Herald understands the department is considering, there would be no light rail stops at Lewisham train station and New Canterbury Road, which several popular bus services - including 428 between Canterbury and the city and the 444 and 445 between Campsie and Balmain - use.
''This makes no sense,'' the deputy mayor of Leichhardt, Michele McKenzie, said. ''The light rail stops should be at the quickest interchange point with other modes of transport. In our case, stops need to be at the main western [train] line and Canterbury Road.''
Cr McKenzie and public transport experts fear the proposal will prevent the light rail reaching capacity.
The minister's spokesman said work was under way on a pre-construction study for the light rail extension, which would take three months. ''No decision has been made on the exact locations of stops for the light rail,'' he said.
Garry Glazebrook, an urban planning expert at the University of Technology, Sydney, who was invited to sit on the government's transport planning taskforce, said light rail was a flexible form of transport that could fit around existing land use and encourage new, more dense land use and improve street life. ''The stops can be 200 metres apart or a kilometre apart,'' he said.
''Your aim, when designing a system, is to pick up the major catchments of people.''