Public Footpaths - cycling?

Commuting, Day rides, Audax, Incidents, etc.
Pete Owens
Posts: 1894
Joined: 7 Jul 2008, 12:52am

Re: Public Footpaths - cycling?

Postby Pete Owens » 17 Aug 2020, 12:28pm

And this is the point people don't seem to grasp about public rights of way.

They are not designated as such because of their suitability for use by any particular mode, or what their current condition happens to be, or even whether there is a path of any sort in existence, or whether users of one mode don'y like users of another mode. They are purely a restriction on the landowners ability to prevent passage across their land.

pwa
Posts: 12735
Joined: 2 Oct 2011, 8:55pm

Re: Public Footpaths - cycling?

Postby pwa » 17 Aug 2020, 3:22pm

Pete Owens wrote:And this is the point people don't seem to grasp about public rights of way.

They are not designated as such because of their suitability for use by any particular mode, or what their current condition happens to be, or even whether there is a path of any sort in existence, or whether users of one mode don'y like users of another mode. They are purely a restriction on the landowners ability to prevent passage across their land.

They are a limit on what you can do on a line across a bit of land you don't own, unless you ask the landowner / tenant and get the required permission to do other things. It is what you can do without asking.

User avatar
RickH
Posts: 5156
Joined: 5 Mar 2012, 6:39pm
Location: Horwich, Lancs.

Re: Public Footpaths - cycling?

Postby RickH » 17 Aug 2020, 4:10pm

Navara wrote:That looks like Rivington Pike?
We've ridden down those on the MTBs 8)

Correct. It is Rivington Pike. I usually use the path up the back to ride to the top (& back down) which is somewhat less "challenging". I used to ride up & down in the 80s & early 90s with one of the children in a seat on the back of my MTB!

thirdcrank wrote:Presumably, that route is used by the occupier of the land and their visitors in motor vehicles. If it's designated as a public footpath, the general public has a right-of-way on foot only.

The main "occupier" is probably United Utilities as over the wall on the right is one of their reservoirs. There is also access for anglers & there are properties at either end. I first rode that way in the early 80s, unaware & unconcerned aboutt the status, when I first went out for a ride with the local cycling club. The guy leading us took us that way & I have used it ever since. I have never been challenged in the 38/39 years I have been doing so. It is not uncommon to encounter other cyclists (or their tyre marks near puddles) & evidence of horses passing that way too.

thirdcrank
Posts: 29481
Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 2:44pm

Re: Public Footpaths - cycling?

Postby thirdcrank » 17 Aug 2020, 4:27pm

RickH wrote: ... The main "occupier" is probably United Utilities as over the wall on the right is one of their reservoirs. There is also access for anglers & there are properties at either end. I first rode that way in the early 80s, unaware & unconcerned aboutt the status, when I first went out for a ride with the local cycling club. The guy leading us took us that way & I have used it ever since. I have never been challenged in the 38/39 years I have been doing so. It is not uncommon to encounter other cyclists (or their tyre marks near puddles) & evidence of horses passing that way too.


I'm not really clear what point you are making. From what you have posted, it's designated a public footpath. ie The general public has a right-of-way on foot. That wouldn't necessarily change if it was big enough to land a jumbo jet. Incidentally, the fact that the land is in the ownership/ pssession/ occupation of what was once a public utility doesn't make it any different, although IME, the privatised companies seem a lot more relaxed about people on their land than used to be the case with water boards.

I don't know the details of how it works but I believe that the designation of a r-o-w can be changed based on actual usage over a period. I don't think that it occurs automatically. There is surely some procedure to be gone through. We've a signed public footpath at the top of our street, regularly used by motor traffic. There used to be a former textile mill there which was used as a small factory when we moved here in 1975. There was a Highways Act sign on the mill wall, saying that the adjacent land had not been dedicated as a road and there was a boom which was lowered and locked once a year which I understood was the owner preserving their rights.

The buildings were eventually demolished and redeveloped for housing. It's still designated a public footpath but I presume that's now open to challenge.

rareposter
Posts: 210
Joined: 27 Aug 2014, 2:40pm

Re: Public Footpaths - cycling?

Postby rareposter » 17 Aug 2020, 4:46pm

thirdcrank wrote:I don't know the details of how it works but I believe that the designation of a r-o-w can be changed based on actual usage over a period. I don't think that it occurs automatically. There is surely some procedure to be gone through.


There's some info on it here: https://www.ramblers.org.uk/advice/path ... f-way.aspx

Most councils have guidance on their respective websites about RoW - either basic things like reporting an obstruction or more in-depth issues such as higher access rights, applying for temporary closure (eg due to path maintenance) and so on.

pwa
Posts: 12735
Joined: 2 Oct 2011, 8:55pm

Re: Public Footpaths - cycling?

Postby pwa » 17 Aug 2020, 4:52pm

RickH wrote:
Navara wrote:That looks like Rivington Pike?
We've ridden down those on the MTBs 8)

Correct. It is Rivington Pike. I usually use the path up the back to ride to the top (& back down) which is somewhat less "challenging". I used to ride up & down in the 80s & early 90s with one of the children in a seat on the back of my MTB!

thirdcrank wrote:Presumably, that route is used by the occupier of the land and their visitors in motor vehicles. If it's designated as a public footpath, the general public has a right-of-way on foot only.

The main "occupier" is probably United Utilities as over the wall on the right is one of their reservoirs. There is also access for anglers & there are properties at either end. I first rode that way in the early 80s, unaware & unconcerned aboutt the status, when I first went out for a ride with the local cycling club. The guy leading us took us that way & I have used it ever since. I have never been challenged in the 38/39 years I have been doing so. It is not uncommon to encounter other cyclists (or their tyre marks near puddles) & evidence of horses passing that way too.

United Utilities, as far as I am aware, are pro public access and put signs up to make it clear if they don't want a particular kind of usage. So your bike use probably has the landowner's blessing.

thirdcrank
Posts: 29481
Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 2:44pm

Re: Public Footpaths - cycling?

Postby thirdcrank » 17 Aug 2020, 4:55pm

I'm wiser than I was yesterday, except for the stuff I've forgotten since then.

Pete Owens
Posts: 1894
Joined: 7 Jul 2008, 12:52am

Re: Public Footpaths - cycling?

Postby Pete Owens » 18 Aug 2020, 12:36am

pwa wrote:
Pete Owens wrote:And this is the point people don't seem to grasp about public rights of way.

They are not designated as such because of their suitability for use by any particular mode, or what their current condition happens to be, or even whether there is a path of any sort in existence, or whether users of one mode don'y like users of another mode. They are purely a restriction on the landowners ability to prevent passage across their land.

They are a limit on what you can do on a line across a bit of land you don't own, unless you ask the landowner / tenant and get the required permission to do other things. It is what you can do without asking.

No a right is the opposite of a limitation. (the other misconception - which started this thread - is that the absence of a right does not mean a prohibition - yet)

The existence of a right of way only prohibits the obstruction of that way. So you cannot block it with a fence (without putting in a crossing point) or plough the surface (without restoring it soon afterwards) or keep dangerous animals on it. On the other hand there is no duty to do anything positive to overcome natural barriers - If the way crosses a deep marsh you are not required to drain it, if it passes a steep cliff you are not required to fence it and if it crosses rough ground you are not required to construct a path.

Nor is there any general prohibition to walking on places other than public rights of way (everywhere is owned by someone and life would be pretty much impossible if we had to seek out the landowners and obtain prior permission for every step we took). A landowner may prevent access by erecting a barrier, or may ask someone to leave, but that is different from requiring people to seek permission before they can go anywhere.

Zulu Eleven
Posts: 57
Joined: 26 Oct 2018, 9:25pm

Re: Public Footpaths - cycling?

Postby Zulu Eleven » 18 Aug 2020, 12:58am

Pete Owens wrote:
Nor is there any general prohibition to walking on places other than public rights of way (everywhere is owned by someone and life would be pretty much impossible if we had to seek out the landowners and obtain prior permission for every step we took). A landowner may prevent access by erecting a barrier, or may ask someone to leave, but that is different from requiring people to seek permission before they can go anywhere.


It’s worth adding that this is exactly how most footpaths were created. People walking along paths without permission (or, more correctly, nec vi, nec clam and nec precario) for a period of time such that a general right was created at common law (a period generally, but not always, taken as twenty years)

Cyclists and horseriders riding on footpaths (or other tracks) without landowner permission is the rights of way process in action. It was never supposed 5o be pickled in aspic, it is supposed to reflect and adapt to the needs of society as they change.

pwa
Posts: 12735
Joined: 2 Oct 2011, 8:55pm

Re: Public Footpaths - cycling?

Postby pwa » 18 Aug 2020, 6:49am

Pete Owens wrote:
pwa wrote:
Pete Owens wrote:And this is the point people don't seem to grasp about public rights of way.

They are not designated as such because of their suitability for use by any particular mode, or what their current condition happens to be, or even whether there is a path of any sort in existence, or whether users of one mode don'y like users of another mode. They are purely a restriction on the landowners ability to prevent passage across their land.

They are a limit on what you can do on a line across a bit of land you don't own, unless you ask the landowner / tenant and get the required permission to do other things. It is what you can do without asking.

No a right is the opposite of a limitation. (the other misconception - which started this thread - is that the absence of a right does not mean a prohibition - yet)

The existence of a right of way only prohibits the obstruction of that way. So you cannot block it with a fence (without putting in a crossing point) or plough the surface (without restoring it soon afterwards) or keep dangerous animals on it. On the other hand there is no duty to do anything positive to overcome natural barriers - If the way crosses a deep marsh you are not required to drain it, if it passes a steep cliff you are not required to fence it and if it crosses rough ground you are not required to construct a path.

Nor is there any general prohibition to walking on places other than public rights of way (everywhere is owned by someone and life would be pretty much impossible if we had to seek out the landowners and obtain prior permission for every step we took). A landowner may prevent access by erecting a barrier, or may ask someone to leave, but that is different from requiring people to seek permission before they can go anywhere.

So I can walk across a neighbour's garden without asking to take a short cut to the shop, and it only becomes a problem if they tell me to stop doing that? If they don't see me do it, or they are too busy elsewhere to police it, or if they fear confrontation with strangers, it is okay because they haven't actually notified me that they want me to stop? If that truly is the case, I begin to wonder if making trespass a crime is the way forward. I hadn't previously thought that to be the case.

Bmblbzzz
Posts: 3492
Joined: 18 May 2012, 7:56pm
Location: From here to there.

Re: Public Footpaths - cycling?

Postby Bmblbzzz » 18 Aug 2020, 10:13am

I'd have thought a right of way was better described as a permission than a limitation. It gives a right to the public. It doesn't say anything about other rights.

rareposter
Posts: 210
Joined: 27 Aug 2014, 2:40pm

Re: Public Footpaths - cycling?

Postby rareposter » 18 Aug 2020, 10:19am

pwa wrote:So I can walk across a neighbour's garden without asking to take a short cut to the shop, and it only becomes a problem if they tell me to stop doing that? If they don't see me do it, or they are too busy elsewhere to police it, or if they fear confrontation with strangers, it is okay because they haven't actually notified me that they want me to stop? If that truly is the case, I begin to wonder if making trespass a crime is the way forward. I hadn't previously thought that to be the case.


Of course you bloody can't!

The basic common law principle is that owners have the right to the exclusive enjoyment of their land. This means they can remove people who come on their land, even though they may not be doing them any harm. But owners cannot do this to people who have lawful authority to be on the land.

Lawful authority to be on the land includes using a PUBLIC footpath (or BW...) across it.

Since your garden presumably does not have a public RoW across it (the driveway / path from the front gate to your front door does not count as a public RoW, it counts as an access which is different from a legal point of view), then no, of course people can't walk across it.

Cyril Haearn
Posts: 14180
Joined: 30 Nov 2013, 11:26am
Location: Leafy suburbia

Re: Public Footpaths - cycling?

Postby Cyril Haearn » 18 Aug 2020, 10:30am

They can, but they may not
Entertainer, intellectual, idealist, PoB, 30120
Cycling-of course, but it is far better on a Gillott
We love safety cameras, we hate bullies

pwa
Posts: 12735
Joined: 2 Oct 2011, 8:55pm

Re: Public Footpaths - cycling?

Postby pwa » 18 Aug 2020, 10:50am

rareposter wrote:
pwa wrote:So I can walk across a neighbour's garden without asking to take a short cut to the shop, and it only becomes a problem if they tell me to stop doing that? If they don't see me do it, or they are too busy elsewhere to police it, or if they fear confrontation with strangers, it is okay because they haven't actually notified me that they want me to stop? If that truly is the case, I begin to wonder if making trespass a crime is the way forward. I hadn't previously thought that to be the case.


Of course you bloody can't!

The basic common law principle is that owners have the right to the exclusive enjoyment of their land. This means they can remove people who come on their land, even though they may not be doing them any harm. But owners cannot do this to people who have lawful authority to be on the land.

Lawful authority to be on the land includes using a PUBLIC footpath (or BW...) across it.

Since your garden presumably does not have a public RoW across it (the driveway / path from the front gate to your front door does not count as a public RoW, it counts as an access which is different from a legal point of view), then no, of course people can't walk across it.

Agreed, but there are people here whose view seems to be that it is okay to cycle on private land where there is only a Public Footpath, or not even that, until challenged by the landowner. Which effectively means the landowner having to patrol or stick signs up to prevent unauthorised cycling if they don't want it to happen where no automatic right exists.

(I am speaking as someone who has used wire cutters to restore access to PROWs where they have been obstructed, so I'm not blindly defending all landowners in all circumstances)

thirdcrank
Posts: 29481
Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 2:44pm

Re: Public Footpaths - cycling?

Postby thirdcrank » 18 Aug 2020, 11:04am

pwa wrote:..., I begin to wonder if making trespass a crime is the way forward. .....


Generally, it would be both impractical and counter-productive. Impractical because it would be impossible to enforce using normal means and counter-productive because that unenforceability would make trespassing more likely.

Changes in society have led to some legal changes. eg Trespassing on school premises has been a problem, eg head teachers assuming they could simply call the police and have people ejected, when the police had no explicit power to do so (and were increasingly unlikely to busk in front of a libertarian audience.) The current legislative attempt to deal with this is full of twiddly bits

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/19 ... ection/547

Control of parking on land is another. Blair tried to avoid upsetting motorists by banning clamping, without dealing with the drivers who ignored the conditions set by the owner of the car park. There was a period when the only redress available was trying to pursue the keeper of the vehicle for breaking the contract they allegedly made by parking. There were a couple of years of "they can't touch you for it" till the courts decided they could and to satisfy the powerful lobby of car park owners, they were given the right to use the DVLA records to pursue non-payers. Rather bizarrely, this was tacked onto the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/20 ... /2/enacted