Off-Road Access

Mark Slater's picture

South West cycling advocates' network-building workshop

15 March 2014
Are you campaigning for cycling in the South West and want to find out how to translate your ideas into reality? If so, join us at our cycling advocates' network-building workshop in Plymouth on 15 March.
A map of South West England

Plymouth Council are the hosts for a day of cycling workshops at the Guildhall, Plymouth on 15 March.

The first of its kind, this event is set to examine cycling provision across the South West and will look at how cycle campaign networks can grow to support and influence local authorities for everyone's benefit.

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MattMallinder's picture

Xcalibre off-road - EVENT POSTPONED until 2015

CTC is pleased to announce our partnership with Xcalibre, Britain’s first ever televised off-road tour, which runs 16-23 August 2014 across seven stages and three venues. Unfortunately this event has been POSTPONED until 2015 - keep an eye on the the Xcalibre website for more details.
An off-road rider on a descent

The Xcalibre 500 two-person team event tests riders across a range of terrain and all MTB disciplines – cross-country, Enduro and marathon, with teams winning points along the way as much for one’s own satisfaction as for one of the race leaders jerseys for women’s teams, mixed teams, the over 80s (combined age that is!) and, of course, the yellow jerseys of the overall leaders. ITV4 will be catching the action on every stage.

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BrettNicolle's picture

Public Inquiry Threatens Completion of 100 mile Coast-to-Coast Cycle Trail

Vocal opposition from a small number of local protesters threatens to derail plans to complete the National Cycle Network Route 27 Coast-to-Coast trail between Plymouth and Ilfracombe.
Plym Valley Cycle Trail

Known as the Devon Coast-to-Coast route, 78 of the 103 miles follow off-road traffic-free trails, mainly using well-surfaced track beds of former railways.

These trails take you gently from sea-level to the elevated plateau of mid Devon and the western fringes of Dartmoor, avoiding most of the sharp gradients (and traffic) of Devon’s road network. The Clearbrook Ramp (pictured below) is the exception.

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Ian Warby's picture

Access to MoD land for cyclists - the big picture

Surrey and Hampshire cyclists are finding that the MoD (Ministry of Defence) are increasingly restricting access to their land for cyclists (and also making life much harder for horseriders and walkers). Is this happening in other parts of the country?
MOD Access Signage

CTC would like to know if cyclists elsewhere in the country are experiencing problems accessing MoD land. If you are, please get in touch. This will help us not only when we are negotiating about local problems (as in the case of Hankley Common - see below), but also in the national discussions that CTC has with MoD.
 

Cherry Allan's picture

Bridleways, byways and cycle tracks (England & Wales)

Closing the gaps for cycling in public rights of way and improving maintenance and signing, would encourage more people to cycle off-road...
Cyclist riding off-road
Headline Messages: 
  • Cycling is legal on 22% of the Rights of Way (RoW) network in England and Wales. However, the right to cycle on some paths and not others does not necessarily relate to how suitable or unsuitable they are for cycling. While cyclists have the right to (bi)cycle on bridleways and byways, many of them are unsuitable; on the other hand, cyclists are not automatically allowed to ride along footpaths, many of which are perfectly fine for cycling.
  • The suppressed demand for good traffic-free cycling routes for both recreational and utility use is considerable, but much of the RoW network is best suited to mountainbiking. More people could enjoy offroad cycling if the network were expanded, more coherent, and better maintained and signed. This needs concerted action from local and national government, plus reform to RoW law.

Key Fact

17% of the Rights of Way network in England is bridleway (32,000 km), 2% is byway (3,700 km) and 3% restricted byway (6,000 km). The rest is footpath (78%, or 146,000 km) on which cyclists have no right to ride. 

 

CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • Improvements and additions to the bridleways and byways network would enhance the opportunities for motor traffic-free cycling, particularly for families and casual cyclists.
  • National government should review RoW law to enhance cycling opportunities by, for example:
    • following the lead of Scotland’s Land Reform Act 2003, which gave cyclists lawful access to most countryside in Scotland;
    • simplifying the legal process for converting footpaths to cycle tracks.
  • Highway authorities should fulfil their duties under existing legislation to make sure that the potential of the RoW network is fully realised for both recreational and utility cyclists.
  • Cycle racing on bridleways should be permitted by law, subject to appropriate consultation and regulation.
  • While signing from roads onto the RoW network is now reasonably acceptable, waymarking of the network itself needs improving.
  • Highway authorities should not only fulfil their legal duties to maintain byways and bridleways,but should also carry out maintenance programmes to ensure that they are rideable.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
April 2014
Anonymous's picture

Is cycling on a footpath a trespass?

What is the legal status of riding a cycle on a footpath? If cycling is considered a 'reasonable' behaviour, perhaps it could be allowed on footpaths, argues John Sugden, who has worked as a senior official in local authorities and as an independent consultant for many years.
What's the legal status of cycling on footpaths?

We need to be clear from the start of the important difference between a footway and a footpath.

Footways are paths alongside roads set aside for pedestrians and it is an offence to cycle along them.

Cherry Allan's picture

Public Footpaths (England & Wales)

Cycling on footpaths is not a legal right, but many are entirely suitable and form good links. Opening them up to cyclists would enhance the network of motor-traffic free routes...
Footpath and Bridleway
Headline Messages: 
  • There should be a presumption that cyclists should be able to use all rights of way in England and Wales, with exceptions only when there are overriding reasons not to allow this.
  • Cycling is legal on 22% of the Rights of Way (RoW) network in England and Wales . However, the legality of cycling on a RoW is not related to its suitability. There is no right to cycle on footpaths, even though many of them are perfectly suitable; whereas bridleways, which cyclists are allowed to use, may be unusable (see photo below). Creating a coherent, logical, off-road network for cyclists therefore requires a fundamental reform of RoW law and political will.
  • England has 146,000 km of public footpaths, and Wales over 26,000 km, most of them rural.  If opened up to cyclists following Scotland’s example, cyclists would benefit from more choice for both leisure and utility travel.
  • Even within the current laws, there are many ways in which local authorities could open up more paths for both recreational and day-to-day cycling.

 

CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • The public footpath network offers the only realistic option for providing significantly more off-road routes to meet current and future demands. The Scottish Land Reform Act (2003) gave cyclists lawful access to most countryside in Scotland. Its success suggests that public footpaths in England and Wales could be similarly opened to cyclists as a simple remedy to overcome the lack of off-road routes for cyclists and the fragmented nature of the available route network.
  • Rights of Way laws should be amended to permit cycling on footpaths with few limited exceptions only where there are clear location-specific reasons not to do so (e.g. where the increased use of the path would create significant environmental or safety hazards).
  • Conflict on rights of way between cyclists and pedestrians is often more perceived than real. It can be mitigated by good design.
  • CTC believes that it is acceptable for cyclists to use footpaths, provided they do so in a manner which respects the safety of other road users and their peaceful enjoyment of the outdoors, and with regard for the environment and its ecology. These are the circumstances in which CTC believes it is acceptable for cyclists to ride on footpaths:
    • Where the surface and width of the path make it eminently suitable for safe cycling without causing disturbance or risk to pedestrians; or
    • Where the path is lightly used, such that the likelihood of disturbance or risk to pedestrians is minimal; or
    • Where a path is unlikely to attract such high levels of cycling that it will cause environmental damage (notably erosion); or
    • Where there is a reasonable belief that the footpath in question might already carry higher rights – for example:
  • where there is historic evidence (e.g. through enclosure award maps) demonstrating past use either by horses or by vehicles
  • where the path is shown on OS maps as an ‘Other Road with Public Access’ (ORPA), indicating an assumption that higher rights may exist;
  • where there is regular use by equestrians, motor vehicles and/or by other cyclists. 
  • Where the relevant landowner is a public body or a charity and/or accepts or appears to accept use of the path by cyclists.
  • Except where the landowner has expressly permitted cycle use, CTC does not generally support the use of footpaths by larger groups of cyclists – particularly as part of an organised event – as this is more likely to generate complaints.
  • In suitable urban situations and where footpaths would form convenient links for cyclists, councils should seek to revoke cycling restrictions and prohibitions.
  • Councils should stringently assess the impact of ‘gating orders’ on cycling and prioritise alternatives where a public footpath forms a convenient through route.
  • There is good evidence, although no direct case law, to support the view that pushing a cycle on a footpath is not illegal. The presence of obstacles such as stiles should not be considered a deterrent to a footpath’s use by cyclists.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
February 2014
Cherry Allan's picture

Rights of Way: an incoherent network?

In England and Wales, some footpaths are much better for cycling on than bridleways, but currently it's only permissible to cycle on the latter. CTC believes that the Rights of Way network needs to be far more consistent, coherent and welcoming for cyclists.
Footpath left; bridleway right

Below are links to:

  • a 2006 presentation from David Moxon (former CTC Councillor), that illustrates the problem;
  • a paper, also from David Moxon, to the National Countryside Access Forum (NCAF) in 2004.  
Julie Rand's picture

New section of cycle route for Snowdonia

CTC attended the opening last week of a new section of Lôn Gwyrfai, a cycling and walking route linking Caernarfon to Waunfawr. The new section joins Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert.
Cutting the ribbon on the new route

The work developing the new section of the  Lôn Gwyrfai multi-use path was part funded by the Communities and Nature (CAN) project, which is a £14.5m European funded project led and managed by Natural Resources Wales. CAN aims to generate economic growth and sustainable jobs by capitalising on Wales's environmental qualities, particularly its landscape and wildlife.

colinpalmer's picture

Book review: Unsealed, Unclassified Roads

CTC's Offroad Adviser, Colin Palmer, reviews LARA's new guide, 'Unsealed, Unclassified Roads: Their history, status and the effect the Natural Environment & Rural Communities Act 2006' from a cyclists' perspective.
Cyclists on unsealed path

Unsealed, unclassified roads (UCRs) are an extremely useful resource for offroad cyclists as they can be more usable than bridleways and byways because of their width - and they sometimes have some form of stone surfacing too.

It is estimated that there are some 13,000km of such highways - often also called ‘white’ roads, or ‘green’ lanes.

However, there is no uniform recording of these highways, so the status allowing use by vehicles, including cycles is often called into question. 

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