Off-Road Access

Cherry Allan's picture

Local Access Forums (England & Wales)

Local Access Forums (set up by local authorities to bring together people and groups interested in public rights of way) should work towards developing the network for cycling...
Cyclists in the countryside
Headline Messages: 
  • Effective Local Access Forums (LAFs) have the potential to maximise the benefits of the Rights of Way (RoW) network for both recreational and day-to-day travel.
  • With cyclists’ interests represented on them, LAFs can also help make sure that the network is developed, maintained and promoted with cycling in mind. Easily accessible motor-traffic free routes for cycling in the countryside not only provide local people and visitors with an enjoyable leisure activity, but also encourage them to take advantage of the health benefits it offers.
Key facts: 
  • Local Highway Authorities and National Parks have to set up Local Access Forums by law under the Countryside & Rights of Way (CRoW) Act 2000. Members are not allowed to represent an organisation, but should be able to represent their interests knowledgeably.
  • In 2013/14, there were 86 active LAFs in England, with almost a thousand members between them. 29 LAFs were originally set up in Wales.
  • In 2013/14, English LAFs were involved in at least 83 cycle projects, 69 ‘multi-user routes’ and 41 ‘Paths for Communities’ schemes.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • Cycling interests should be represented on all LAFs. 
  • Local authorities should be receptive and responsive to LAF recommendations on:
    •  amendments to the definitive map and on processing them in a timely fashion, to the benefit of off-road cyclists 
    •  the promotion and signing of the RoW network and other opportunities for off-road cycling 
    •  the proper maintenance of byways, bridleways and un-surfaced unclassified roads o the removal of obstructions. 
  • LAFs should promote off-road cycling as a healthy and enjoyable activity, particularly to families and young people. 
  •  LAFs should adopt, implement and promote CTC’s key Rights of Way Improvement Plan (RoWIP) priorities
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
January 2015
Cherry Allan's picture

Seaside cycling: the coast, promenades and sea fronts (England & Wales)

A good proportion of the English and Welsh coast could be safely and beneficially opened up for cycling...
Seaside Cycling
Headline Messages: 
  • Although primarily for walkers, England’s new coastal path could also help open up more cycling routes. This needs support from landowners and, if necessary, pressure from local people. 
  • Many councils have opened up promenades and sea fronts to cycling to the benefit of cycle safety and local tourism. Concerns about conflict with walkers have generally proved to be unfounded.
Key facts: 
  • The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (Part 9) placed a duty on the Government to create a path for walkers all round the English coast.
  • Only 5% of the legally secure and satisfactory path available on the English coast is designated as multi-user cycle path or public bridleway. Most of it (70%) is public footpath.
  • While the Wales Coast Path, opened in May 2012, was primarily developed for walkers, the Assembly Government encouraged the inclusion of cyclists on a number of sections. Around one third of it is available for cycling.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • A good proportion of the English and Welsh coast could be safely and beneficially opened up for cycle use.
  • The provisions of the Marine Act are extremely weak in terms of delivering cycle access along the English coast. Ultimately, it still depends on gaining the landowner’s agreement and, as such, on sustained local activity and campaigning.
  • Councils should revoke bans and allow cyclists to use sea fronts and promenades as scenic, traffic-free routes and links for recreational and utility purposes.
  • Segregating cyclists and imposing speed limits on them along sea fronts and promenades is unnecessary: research shows that cyclists modify their behaviour in the presence of pedestrians (e.g. by slowing down, taking avoiding action or dismounting as necessary).
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
November 2014
Cherry Allan's picture

Changing the status of rights of way (England & Wales)

Find out why it's important to open up more of the rights of way network for cycling, what the legal process is and how it needs improving...
Cyclists riding off-road
Headline Messages: 
  • The Rights of Way (RoW) network in England and Wales is extremely fragmented, and there is an urgent need to fill in the gaps to make it more attractive for healthy and enjoyable outdoor activities such as cycling. This can be done through a legal process involving ‘Orders’.
Key facts: 
  • Only around 22% of the public rights of way in England and Wales is available to cyclists.
  • Statutory Orders can be used to expand the network of paths legally available for cycling in the countryside. Different types of Orders can: modify an authority’s definitive map and statement of pubic rights of way in the case of errors or omissions; create, extinguish or divert rights of way; or regulate or prohibit cycling or motor traffic on the highway.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 

Map Modification Orders (MMOs)

  • Highway authorities should make resources available to ensure that the definitive map accurately represents the full bridleway and byway network before the ‘cut off date’ of 1 January 2026.
  • CTC will normally oppose moves to downgrade or delete bridleways and byways, and support upgrading or creating them.
  • As the current system is overly resource-intensive, the Government and its agencies should take steps to develop and implement more effective ways of making and confirming Orders.

Public Path Orders (PPOs)

  • The needs of residents, landowners and businesses should be sympathetically considered whenever they want to make reasonable diversions around residential properties or farm buildings, or alter the line of a path so that it goes round the edge of field (headland), rather than across it (cross field).
  • If, however, the diversion means that cyclists would suffer a loss of amenity, or usability (e.g. longer and/or steeper routes, poorer surfaces etc), CTC is unlikely to support the proposal.
  • CTC will, however, normally oppose any proposed downgrades (e.g. downgrading a bridleway to a footpath that cyclists can no longer use).

Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs)

  • Wherever possible, CTC will liaise with highway authorities to seek alternative solutions to TROs on byways, bridleways or unsurfaced roads.
  • CTC will normally oppose any regular renewal of a temporary TRO, because remedies to deal with the problem in question should be the priority.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
November 2014
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: 
  • Opening up much more of the Rights of Way (RoW) network in England and Wales would be of enormous benefit for the healthy and environmentally-friendly activity of cycling, both for recreation and day-to-day travel.
  • Whether a legal right exists to cycle on a RoW does not necessarily relate to how suitable it is. Many footpaths are better for cycling than many bridleways (see photo above) – but, in law, cyclists are only permitted to use the latter. From a cyclist’s point of view, therefore, this often makes the RoW network incoherent, illogical and frustrating. This is a problem that can only be sorted out through legal reforms and political will.
  • Even within the current laws, though, there are many ways in which local authorities could open up more paths for cycling.
Key facts: 
  • Cycling is legally permitted on less than a quarter (22%) of the Rights of Way network in England and Wales; in contrast, Scotland’s Land Reform Act (2003) opened up most of the  Scottish countryside to cyclists, as long as they abide by an access code.
  • England has 146,000 km of public footpaths, and Wales over 26,000 km. These are mostly rural rights of way specifically restricted to pedestrians and the right to walk along them is legally protected. If most English footpaths were opened up for cycling, it could more than triple the mileage currently available to cyclists in the countryside.
  • Unless the landowner permits it, cycling on a footpath in England and Wales normally constitutes trespass, making it a civil but not a criminal matter. A local by-law or Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) covering a particular footpath, however, can make it an offence.
  • Although there is no legal right to cycle on footpaths, some are regularly used by cyclists. If enough cyclists use a footpath in this way without the landowner challenging them for (usually) 20 years, then a restricted byway may be claimed through ‘presumed rights’ under s31 of the 1980 Highways Act.
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 path 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: 
December 2014
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: 
  • The right to cycle on some public rights of way (RoW) but not others does not necessarily relate to their suitability. 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 off-road 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 facts: 
  • Cyclists have a right to ride on bridleways, byways and restricted byways, which make up around 22% of the Rights of Way (RoW) network in England and Wales.
  • The rest consists of footpaths, where 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: 
November 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

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.  
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.

Comments

Be the first to comment on this article. Login or register to comment.

All comments are reactively-moderated and must obey our moderation policy.

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.

Comments

Be the first to comment on this article. Login or register to comment.

All comments are reactively-moderated and must obey our moderation policy.

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.

Comments

Be the first to comment on this article. Login or register to comment.

All comments are reactively-moderated and must obey our moderation policy.

Syndicate content

Archive

  • Patron: Her Majesty The Queen
  • President: Jon Snow
  • Chief Executive: Paul Tuohy
  • Cyclists' Touring Club (CTC): A company limited by guarantee, registered in England no.25185. Registered as a charity in England and Wales No 1147607 and in Scotland No SC042541

Copyright © CTC 2015

Terms and Conditions