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rules regarding footpaths

eggbarkereggbarker Posts: 10
edited November 2009 in MTB general
hi does anyone know the rules regarding public footpaths as yesterday i was on a local trail ive ridden for years and other cyclists use it regulary theres a private rd running through 3 farms with gates styls etc,this women stopped me at the first gate saying i couldnt cycle through its a footpath i said i'll walk through with me bike she said i wasnt allowed and she had put up a little laminate sign allegedly from the local council saying no bikes etc,i work for the council and asked her for the name of the person she spoke to from the council and she fobbed me off saying her sister had called them and she didnt have the name of the person so what id like to know is is she right it is a private road but the footpath is also on the road going through the farms ive never in all the years riding it had any trouble before is she just trying it on?rest assured i'll be ringing the council first thing tomorrow morning
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  • if it's a public footpath then no bikes.

    if it's a private road then unless you have any reason to suggest so your not supposed to be riding there.
  • -Liam--Liam- Posts: 1,831
    Its perfectly ok for dog owners to allow their dogs to liberally spray shi7 all over a footpath, but thou shalt not ride your bike on the path for fear of a brutal vengeance from the bloke upstairs.....or an interfering old biddie with a yappy jack russell will put you straight. I'd tell her to do one...
    :roll:
  • freebsfreebs Posts: 199
    I think it's regarding damage to the footpath? Not sure dogshit does much damage? (maybe to your shoes!)
  • dave_hilldave_hill Posts: 3,877
    -Liam- wrote:
    Its perfectly ok for dog owners to allow their dogs to liberally spray shi7 all over a footpath, but thou shalt not ride your bike on the path for fear of a brutal vengeance from the bloke upstairs

    Two wrongs don't make a right.
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  • dave_hilldave_hill Posts: 3,877
    edited November 2009
    eggbarker wrote:
    hi does anyone know the rules regarding public footpaths as yesterday i was on a local trail ive ridden for years and other cyclists use it regulary theres a private rd running through 3 farms with gates styls etc,this women stopped me at the first gate saying i couldnt cycle through its a footpath i said i'll walk through with me bike she said i wasnt allowed and she had put up a little laminate sign allegedly from the local council saying no bikes etc,i work for the council and asked her for the name of the person she spoke to from the council and she fobbed me off saying her sister had called them and she didnt have the name of the person so what id like to know is is she right it is a private road but the footpath is also on the road going through the farms ive never in all the years riding it had any trouble before is she just trying it on?rest assured i'll be ringing the council first thing tomorrow morning

    Do you think that you could try using some punctuation? I nearly passed out through oxygen starvation trying to read that lot.

    Next, where is the path? Places and names please. Have you looked on a map to try to ascertain it's status?

    Just because you've been using it for years doesn't mean its a public right of way. If it isn't you've no right to be there. How would you feel if hoards of walkers, cyclists and horseriders came tramping through your property without so much as a by-your-leave?

    If it is a public right of way, then it will either be a public footpath, a public bridleway, or a public byway. If it's a public footpath, you can't ride on it (you leave yourself open to accusations of trespass), it's a grey area as to whether you can push a bike on it (although you can push a pushchair, pram or wheelchair on it), but you can carry your bike on it.

    The width of a road/path/track has no bearing on its status. It could be wide enough to land a jumbo jet on but if it is only a public footpath - no cycling.

    If it is a public bridleway or byway, there's nothing to stop you from using it. Fill your boots.

    Trespass is a civil offence, not a criminal offence - any case against you has to be brought by the landowner and they have to prove a) that you have damaged their property, and b) that you have done so deliberately.

    Interestingly, signs which read "Trespassers Will be Prosecuted" are oxymorons - you cannot be prosecuted for a civil offence.

    None of the above applies in the land of men in skirts and second-rate football.

    BTW, why ring the council if you work there? :?
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  • BriggoBriggo Posts: 3,537
    dave_hill wrote:
    BTW, why ring the council if you work there? :?

    Exactly what I thought, think he's been caught out! ;)
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,678
    Basic rule is:

    footpaths - no
    bridleways, byways & dedicated/designated cycle paths - yes.

    An OS map is best here. They mark them pretty well.


    Then there's Open Access land where as a walker you can almost roam where you want. Cyclists however are banned generally except where the above rules apply.

    Mountain biking on common land is a tricky issue. Often tolerated, but you don't necessarily have a right. Plus public footpaths can cross the land and technically you shouldn't be on those parts.

    If it's private (including FC, trail parks, crown land), then it's up to the owner to decide access (if any).
  • Briggo wrote:
    dave_hill wrote:
    BTW, why ring the council if you work there? :?

    Exactly what I thought, think he's been caught out! ;)

    I used to work for a Council, but I wouldn't had a clue where to find the access officer in the maze of rabbit warren rooms. Also, some areas were restricted.

    Much easier to pick a phone and dial the reception :wink:
    CAAD9
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  • fcumokfcumok Posts: 283
    The public footpath ruling is in desperate need of updating. If it's a public footpath then you are technically trespassing. The rules are often ignored which proves how unworkable they are. I wrote to my MP a couple of weeks ago and am still waiting to hear back from him. Although I don't hold out much hope I will keep at him and I suggest that others do the same.
  • NorthwindNorthwind Posts: 14,682
    I wouldn't had a clue where to find the access officer in the maze of rabbit warren rooms. Also, some areas were restricted.

    Ironic :lol:
    Uncompromising extremist
  • No 1 Trespassers will be prosecuted...


    Despite the theoretical possibility of being prosecuted for riding on a country footpath there is often a misunderstanding as to what you might be charged with. Most legislation relating to cycling on 'footpaths' actually relates to 'footways set along side of the road'. Ie. it does not directly relate to country footpaths where there is no road. (This dates back to the 1835 Highways Act).
    The 'fixed penalty' notices brought in to deal with 'pavement cyclists' also do NOT generally apply to off-road paths. The main exception to this is when a local authority has passed a Traffic Regulation Order making cycling an offence. (More on this later).
    The Camden Cycling campaign site makes this point clear stating:
    'Section 72 of the Highways Act 1835 provides that a person shall be guilty of an offence if he : "shall wilfully ride upon any footpath or causeway by the side of any road made or set apart for the use or accommodation of foot-passengers or shall wilfully lead or drive any carriage of any description upon any such footpath or causeway ". Section 85 of the Local Government Act 1888 extends the definition of "carriage" to include "bicycles, tricycles, velocipedes and other similar machines".
    The object of Section 72 Highways Act 1835 was intended not to protect all footpaths, but only footpaths or causeways by the side of a road.

    When riding on the majority of rural public paths in the U.K. the most likely offence that you may be committing is the civil wrong of trespass against the landowner. One might think that you cannot be 'trespassing' per say if you are on a footpath as you are using a public right of way. However, you may still be guilty of a trespass against the landowner on the basis that your actions caused some sort of damage or loss to the landowner who by law only has to allow walkers access to that right of way. Despite this the offence of trespass is still only a civil matter between you and the landowner and if the case were to be taken to court the monetary value of that trespass is likely to be very small.
    It might be argued that no 'trespass' charge could be made regarding a loss of privacy or similar as the path is open to the public in any case. In addition, the cost of maintaining the path (including any bridges and the cutting back of undergrowth) is the responsibility of the local authority rather than the landowner. Ie. the law assumes that the surface of the path belongs to the local highway authority. Consequently, one might well argue that and it is the local highway authority who would have to take action against you, for any 'damage' caused to the surface of the path on which you were riding, not the 'landowner' of the field you are riding through.
    (Of course, if you were riding away from any right of way a landowner would be in a stronger position to claim for damages due to your trespass. However, once again, the leaving of a few muddy wheel prints is unlikely to be considered to have much monetary cost, though this might well rise rather quickly if you damaged crops...).
    The power of the laws relating to trespass are generally over stated with the exception of trespass expressly in order to interfere with the legal activities of a landowner or other party. For example, trespass in order to interfere with a fox hunt may be dealt with under the Criminal Justice Act and is a criminal offence.

    The Ramblers' Association have the following to say on trespass:
    'A landowner may use "reasonable force" to compel a trespasser to leave, but not more than is reasonably necessary. Unless injury to the property can be proven, a landowner could probably only recover nominal damages by suing for trespass. But of course you might have to meet the landowner's legal costs. Thus a notice saying "Trespassers will be Prosecuted", aimed for instance at keeping you off a private drive, is usually meaningless. Criminal prosecution could only arise if you trespass and damage property. However, under public order law, trespassing with an intention to reside may be a criminal offence under some circumstances. It is also a criminal offence to trespass on railway land and sometimes on military training land.'
    In general, if you are accused of 'trespassing' the seriousness of the trespass would be taken into account if a landowner did go so far as to take you to court. The seriousness of a trespass would take into factors such as any loss of amenity to the landowner an any damage done. Of course, the only damage a MTB rider is likely to do is to leave a few wheel marks somewhere. I have been told that if you were to offer a landowner a suitable sum in compensation for the 'trespass' and that sum were refused by the landowner a court would take that offer into consideration when awarding against you for any trespass. If all you did were to leave a few wheel marks reasonable damages might be so low as to make 10 or 20p a 'reasonable' offer and if the landowner refused this he would have to justify why a higher sum was justified. In addition, the refusal of such an offer would count against the landowner as all parties are supposed to make all reasonable attempts to resolve a dispute before taking recourse to the law in civil matters. In addition, the police are unlikely to take much interest in a civil case of trespass.
    Ok. I'll get of and walk...
    A further aside to the law of 'trespass' is whether or not it is permissible to push or carry a bicycle on a section of footpath. The Ramblers association and others argue that as the law only permits a walker to have with them a 'natural accompaniment' even pushing or carrying a cycle is prohibited as a bicycle is not a 'natural accompaniment' of a pedestrian. However, a number of precedents have been set that show that the law considers a cyclist who is walking or pushing their machine is, to all legal intents and purposes, a pedestrian and has all the rights of a pedestrian, and so can continue even if he or she does a have cycle with them...
    The following are taken from the Cyclists Touring Club's 'Off Road News, Issue 1'.
    'In the case of Crank v Brooks 1980 a motorist was prosecuted for injuring a cyclist pushing a cycle across a zebra crossing. In his judgement Lord Waller said ‘... the fact that the injured party had a bicycle in her hand did not mean that she was no longer a pedestrian”. This judgement was reinforced by the Department of Transport in a letter written in 1994 in which they confirm “....that a cyclist pushing a bicycle on a pedestrian facility is regarded as a pedestrian”. A footpath is a pedestrian facility in the same way as a zebra crossing or footway, so the law can reasonably be assumed not to differentiate between rural and urban use. The latest highway code also illustrates a NO ENTRY sign with the words “no vehicles except cycles being pushed”. The bicycle is defined in law as a vehicle, but here, the DTLR is clearly stating that a bicycle while being pushed loses its vehicular status.'
    The law, as is frequently the case, is ambiguous on this point (and the ambiguity of the law would often seem to be intentional, so allowing judges to exercise their discretion). As far as I am aware the 'natural accompaniment' clause has not actually being tested by case law with reference to a cyclists carrying or pushing a cycle on a country path. However, this issue is probably little more than an aside given that cyclists, after all, want to ride when they can...

    Source

    The Bike Zone

    http://www.thebikezone.org.uk/thebikezo ... adlaw.html
  • biff55biff55 Posts: 1,404
    yawn , lost the will to live by the second paragraph :lol:
  • dave_hilldave_hill Posts: 3,877
    biff55 wrote:
    yawn , lost the will to live by the second paragraph :lol:

    You mean there was a second paragraph???
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  • _Ferret__Ferret_ Posts: 660
    dave_hill wrote:
    eggbarker wrote:
    hi does anyone know the rules regarding public footpaths as yesterday i was on a local trail ive ridden for years and other cyclists use it regulary theres a private rd running through 3 farms with gates styls etc,this women stopped me at the first gate saying i couldnt cycle through its a footpath i said i'll walk through with me bike she said i wasnt allowed and she had put up a little laminate sign allegedly from the local council saying no bikes etc,i work for the council and asked her for the name of the person she spoke to from the council and she fobbed me off saying her sister had called them and she didnt have the name of the person so what id like to know is is she right it is a private road but the footpath is also on the road going through the farms ive never in all the years riding it had any trouble before is she just trying it on?rest assured i'll be ringing the council first thing tomorrow morning

    Do you think that you could try using some punctuation? I nearly passed out through oxygen starvation trying to read that lot.

    Ha Ha - do you read each post out loud dave?
    I hope you have an audience with you otherwise that's a little strange... :wink:

    Still - good job on getting to the second paragraph of the last post, did you have to stop for a drink of water... :lol:
    Not really active
  • missmarplemissmarple Posts: 1,980
    I ought to print out the second paragraph and give it to the next person who yaps at me for being on a bridleway, thanks 'lost-time!
  • That was really interesting. thanks for the info
    2010 Carrera Fury
    1992 Raleigh Equipe
  • VegmanVegman Posts: 35
    RockingDad wrote:
    That was really interesting. thanks for the info
    + 1
    A bike..in my garage.....I MUST tinker.
  • abducteeabductee Posts: 189
    What about access land?

    Can we ride anywhere except the footpaths?
  • MrChrisPMrChrisP Posts: 321
    Just move up here to Scotland. Gotta love the public right of way laws! :lol:
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  • So..... she had no written permission from the land owner to post the sign. Does this not constitute Bill Posting or Vandalism ;-)
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,678
    abductee wrote:
    What about access land?

    Can we ride anywhere except the footpaths?
    If it's Open Access Land, no.
    What you can do on access land
    Most recreational activities that are carried out on foot, such as walking, bird-watching, climbing and running.

    What you can't do on access land
    Camping, cycling, horse riding, motor sports and the driving of any vehicle other than a mobility scooter or buggy.
    http://www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk/thi ... pen_access

    So you're limited to bridleways and dedicated cycle paths.
  • mellexmellex Posts: 214
    To cut a long story short, as a cyclist, everyone using any form of motor transport on a public highway hates you and everyone walking, running, birdwatching, fishing etc. in the countryside also hates you, regardless of the usage/access outlined for that specific area.

    In conclusion, we pay good money to be hated :lol:
  • colintravcolintrav Posts: 1,074
    if it's a public footpath then no bikes.

    if it's a private road then unless you have any reason to suggest so your not supposed to be riding there.


    And how many times is a person going to adhear to the law when they are going to ride along it anyway ...

    Police have more important issues to deal that both about some person on a bike on a path when the police are guilty themselves ...

    And if they happen to out on patrol they aint going to take the long road for a short cut when in pursuit of a tea leaf are they

    And anyone that thinks Police bike are light as a feather well they ain't weight a ton
  • colintrav wrote:
    if it's a public footpath then no bikes.

    if it's a private road then unless you have any reason to suggest so your not supposed to be riding there.


    And how many times is a person going to adhear to the law when they are going to ride along it anyway ...

    Police have more important issues to deal that both about some person on a bike on a path when the police are guilty themselves ...

    And if they happen to out on patrol they aint going to take the long road for a short cut when in pursuit of a tea leaf are they

    And anyone that thinks Police bike are light as a feather well they ain't weight a ton

    The fact that people use footpaths to ride on etc doesn't change to OP question which was is it legal.

    the fact that tresspass is toothless and police would be not be intrested. doesn't change that.
  • bails87bails87 Posts: 12,999
    colintrav wrote:

    Police have more important issues to deal that both about some person on a bike on a path when the police are guilty themselves ...


    Errr, thats the same logic as saying "Yes officer, I was speeding, but you were too, otherwise you wouldn't have caught me, so you can't 'do' me for it".

    Riding on footpaths (not pavements) is against the 'rules' (cautious of saying 'law' because it's a civil offence, not a criminal one) So the police may well tell you to get off the footpath but they more than likely won't care. Even if they do, they won't arrest/charge/fine you, it's up to the landowner to claim for damages. (If you slipped on some ice on the pavement, the police wouldn't arrest the guy at the council in charge of gritting. But you could make a claim against the council.)

    End of the day, it's NOT allowed, so it's up to you to accept the (probably very minimal) risks of doing it. But if someone has a go, they're right, you're wrong. Feel free to point out if their dog is off the lead though, that's not allowed either (I think). I know two wrongs don't make a right, and all that.
    MTB/CX

    "As I said last time, it won't happen again."
  • _Ferret__Ferret_ Posts: 660
    colintrav wrote:

    And how many times is a person going to adhear to the law when they are going to ride along it anyway ...

    Police have more important issues to deal that both about some person on a bike on a path when the police are guilty themselves ...

    And if they happen to out on patrol they aint going to take the long road for a short cut when in pursuit of a tea leaf are they

    And anyone that thinks Police bike are light as a feather well they ain't weight a ton

    Colintrav - I love your posts - I have to read them at least 3 times before I get what you're on about.
    I think I agree with you though, the only people who will have a go at you are other walkers or if you're really unlucky - the landowner.
    Technically, it's wrong and you should feel ashamed for doing it - I don't though, and ride on footpaths with care for other users, most people don't seem to mind then...
    Not really active
  • _Ferret_ wrote:
    ride on footpaths with care for other users, most people don't seem to mind then...
    +1
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  • dave_hilldave_hill Posts: 3,877
    Funny how the OP hasn't responded, innit? :?
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  • _Ferret__Ferret_ Posts: 660
    I don't think he/she does responses.
    Probably too busy ranting about rich people on another forum somewhere.
    I am looking forward to the next post though - it is comical :lol:
    Not really active
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,678
    Oh, and tow paths...

    Technically no right in general as they are generally private property and even if there's public access it's standard footpath (no cycling) access.

    However many do provide some form of cycle access. In some cases you need a permit (possibly free or small cost, but most cyclists are unaware of it and don't bother). In others there may be a general permission but not right of way (e.g. National Trust own the Wey Navigations near me and cycling is not a right but it's tolerated and signs up tell you to give way to basically everyone else). Then there are some that have dedicated cycle paths (e.g. Thames Path for some of it).

    My experience of tow paths has generally been that a lot of walkers and runners are quite hostile to cyclists even if you have a right or permit to cycle there. Many will just deliberately move to block the path and refuse to let you past.

    Okay it's understandable given the amount of very inconsiderate cyclists on tow paths who don't give way, aren't polite in asking to get past, and don't bother with any kind of warning (shouting, bell, etc) whilst charging along at full speed.

    I always give way, use a bell on a tow path and wait patiently. I also get off if there are families walking with small children or potentially hostile looking dogs that might get freaked out. My tow path riding isn't a speed thing, I just do it for a jolly out on a nice day, or an epic distance ride (epic for me that is :D).
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