What is a Public Right of Way
What can I use?
It is a civil wrong to ride a bicycle or a
horse on a footpath; action could be taken by the landowner for
trespass or nuisance by the user.
Public Bridleways – walkers, horse riders and pedal
Pedal cyclists should give way to walkers and
Byways open to all traffic (BOAT) – walkers,
horse riders, pedal cyclists, motorcyclists, horse drawn carriages
and motor vehicles
Any vehicle using public byways must be
licensed and insured, properly taxed and fit for use on public
roads. In some areas use may be restricted by a traffic regulation
It is a criminal offence under Section 34 of
the Road Traffic Act 1988 to drive any motorised vehicle on a
public footpath or bridleway without 'lawful authority'. 'Lawful
authority' includes the right of the local authority to take
vehicles along a right of way to maintain it or the permission of
the landowner of the land over which the right of way crosses.
People usually mean a Byway when they refer to
a Green Lane. This term has no legal meaning.
It is an offence to use any right of way in a
reckless or careless manner, or without consideration of other
On rights of way you can:
- Take a pram, pushchair or wheelchair, where
- Take a dog as long as on a lead or under close
- Admire the view, stop for a rest, have a small
picnic on the verge
- Take a short alternative route to get round an
obstruction but report to the Council
Private and Public Rights
Public rights of way do not in any way affect
private rights of access that may exist over that land for
landowners and householders. These rights should be mentioned in
the deeds of the land in question. Some ways can carry both public
and private rights; e.g. a farm access road may also be a public
footpath. Private rights must not be exercised in any way as to
interfere with the rights of the public.
Landowners may give permission by a formal
agreement with the Borough Council to use paths or tracks over
their land that is not public rights of way. Usually referred to as
'permissive paths', they are not covered by rights of way
legislation and there is usually no intention that they should
become public rights of way. Notices may be erected at each end of
the path to this effect and cover additional restrictions on use
that may apply.
Schemes like Environmental Stewardship enable
additional routes to be provided by landowners and are available to
users through Country walks (opens in new
Footway is another word used for pavement.
Problems with such should be directed to Highways on their