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Legal aspects of cycle routes

snowie 17 Jul 16:15  

Joined: 17 Jul 2008

Posts: 4


I'm keen to start cycling as well as walking; or as an alternative to cycling as my ankles are not what they used to be, and walking is often painful.

I have decided that walking routes that go over farmland, and are not on tracks, footpaths or bridleways are potentially problematic. Anything across the middle of a field is best avoided. I have a hybrid bike, not a mountain bike.

However; I'm not sure what the legal situation is over public rights of way, and "other public access on os maps. I'm also aware that "heavy duty cyclists" and motorized cyclists are not much loved on walking routes. that said, I can see no reason why walkers should expect exclusive access to some/most paths, footpaths, (tracks if such a thing exists) , etc other than legal reasons.

How can I determine the legallity of a proposed route, before I set off, and without "sucking and seeing' ?

Advice will be much appreciated,


alan in lincolnshire

Cheshire Cyclewayer 17 Jul 17:31  

Joined: 17 Jul 2008

Posts: 1


Hi Alan

The Ordnance Survey maps are really useful for finding out where you can go legally, but be sure to have recent maps. Also, the legal stuff is based on the 'Definitive Map' which is large scale - the smaller scale maps we use to walk and cycle are based on the Definitive Map but there may be (rarely) errors and misprints, or more likely, out of date info, so don't start any arguments based on the 1:50,000....

Legally - footpaths are for feet; bridleways for feet, hooves and non-motorised wheels.

'Roads used as public paths' or RUPPs as they are usually known, have now been renamed as 'restricted byways', and unless some peculiar local arrangement exists, have the same access rights as bridleways.

'Byways open to all traffic' or BOATs, are what they say they are, open to all traffic including motorised vehicles.

The tricky bit is the 'other road, track or drive' - generally these are private unless they also have the symbols for one of the four categories above.

As someone who walks and cycles a lot, can I add a heartfelt plea that cyclists call out a warning (a friendly Good Morning/Afternoon will do - that's what I always shout out) when coming up behind other users. Cycles are very quiet and walkers don't always keep to a straight line, so there's potential for collisions unless the walker knows there's someone cycling towards them. Same when cycling behind horseriders. Walkers and riders can't always hear what's coming along behind, because of clopping hooves, strong winds, noisy waterproofs, or plain old hard of hearing. A few times I've stepped unwittingly into the path of a cyclist so they've had to swerve. And I think other users (on foot, bike or horse) are justified in disliking people cycling downhill and around blind corners hell for leather - we're all off the roads to relax. Not that I'm suggesting you're planning to do this!

Happy cycling.

Val in sunny Cheshire

snowie 17 Jul 18:06  

Joined: 17 Jul 2008

Posts: 4


Thanks Val; I've been corresponding with Sustrans on this, and you are advising the same.

I know that cyclists and walkers have the potential to "clash" over being in the same place at the same time, and being a generally thoughtful kind of person I'll walk and ride with others in mind.

My days of "tearing around" the countryside are way behind me; not that I recall behaving that badly anyway,

Happy walking and/or cycling,

regards, alan

Murray Barnes 17 Jul 20:14  

Joined: 07 Jan 2007

Posts: 64


My Profile
Further, if you are in Scotland, there are no restrictions on where you can cycle, other than the Motorways. However, you do have the responsibility to make sure that you do not cause too much erosion or problems for other path users.

Before the Outdoor Access Code was launched in Scotland, it used to be illegal to cycle on the West Highland Way, and now they cannot stop you. I imagine it's frowned upon though.

My Latest Route: Jul 2008 Great Glen Cycleway


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