maintenance

Cherry Allan's picture

Unsurfaced highways shared with motor vehicles

Not all unsurfaced highways are robust enough for use by motor vehicles. Ruts and mud, for example, can make them difficult or impossible for cycling ...
Unsurfaced highway
Headline Messages: 
  • Unsurfaced highways are valuable routes for cycling in the countryside, although their use by recreational motor vehicles and tractors too can compromise enjoyment and make the surface un-rideable.
Key facts: 
  • A byway open to all traffic (BOAT) is open to all classes of traffic including motor vehicles, but is not necessarily maintained to the same standard as an ordinary road. There are some 3,000km of them.
  • An unsurfaced, unclassified road (UUCR) is repairable by the local authority, but access rights may not be clear and subject to dispute. It is ‘unclassified’ because it has not been categorised as an A, B or C road. There are some 9,000km of UUCRs.
  • Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) can be used to stop motor vehicles using BOATs or UUCRs; if repairs are needed, ‘Section 56’ notices can be served on the highway authority.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • CTC accepts that licenced recreational motor vehicles (2 & 4 wheel) have a legal right to use BOATs and UUCRs. 
  • Not all of these highways, however, are robust enough for use by motor vehicles, so they should be managed to avoid stirring up mud and creating ruts.
  • Cyclists and other non-motorised users go to the countryside for quiet recreation. Unmanaged motorised use of unsurfaced highways is incompatible with this, particularly where these vehicles, especially motorcycles, are inadequately silenced. 
  • If, after a reasonable time, voluntary management fails to remedy a damaged highway, or is not implemented, then a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) should be sought to prevent motorised vehicular use.
  • The police should implement robust policies to discourage illegal use by unlicenced and/or unsilenced vehicles.
  • Use by tractors as part of agricultural or forestry practice can also be extremely damaging, and where this occurs the Highway Authority (HA) and landowner/tenant should agree on measures to allow unimpeded use by cycles.
  • Where, following extensive discussions, an HA fails to maintain a highway that is ‘out of repair’, then, if the route is an important link, consideration should be given to serving the authority with a Highways Act section 561 notice requiring them to repair it suitably.   

What is a Boat? A byway open to all traffic is a highway open to all classes of traffic including motor vehicles. It may not be maintained to the same standard as an ordinary road. 

What is an UUCR? An unsurfaced, unclassified road is repairable by the local authority, but access rights may not be clear and subject to dispute. It is ‘unclassified’ because it has not been categorised as an A, B or C road.

Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
February 2015
Cherry Allan's picture

Obstructions and 'out of repair' rights of way (England & Wales)

Bridleways and byways need to be kept clear of obstructions and in a good state of repair, so that cyclists can enjoy their off-road rides...
Obstructions-out-of-repair-RoW
Headline Messages: 
  • Obstructions, poor surfaces, bad drainage and rank vegetation often make the bridleway and byway network in lowland England and Wales difficult for cyclists to use and can even force them to abandon rides. It also puts people off the healthy and enjoyable activity of riding in the countryside.
Key facts: 
  • Rights of way (RoW) include footpaths, bridleways, byways, restricted byways and byways open to all traffic (BOATs).
  • By law, highway authorities must ensure that their RoW are maintained in a state appropriate for the sort of traffic reasonably expected to use them. If they don’t, members of the public can use section 56 of the Highways Act 1980 (HA1980) to force them to act.
  • Landowners must remove unlawful obstructions, and highway authorities have to ensure that RoW are not obstructed. If an authority fails to do this, members of the public can use sections 130A-D (HA1980) to compel them to take action.
  • If an authority can prove that it has taken reasonable care to "secure that the part of the highway to which the action relates was not dangerous to traffic", it has a statutory defence under section 58 (HA1980) in the event of claims made against them.
  • Highways authorities do not have to do anything to facilitate the use of bridleways by cyclists. Byways and restricted byways, however, should be maintained for cycle use. 
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • Highway authorities should prioritise bridleways, byways, restricted byways and unsurfaced unclassified roads in their rights of way management and maintenance regimes. This is because these are multi-user routes, available to cyclists, horse riders and walkers. 
  • Hedgerow legislation should be strengthened to prevent the removal of field boundaries alongside bridleways, as the bridleway then becomes ‘cross field’ and may be ploughed. 
  • Where cross field paths are regularly ploughed, an uncultivated headland alternative should be made available.
  • Highway authorities should make sure that rights of way that go through fields are clearly signed to stop users encountering any obstructions that are not on the path.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
January 2015
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
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