Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

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meic
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Location: Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen)

Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby meic » 9 Oct 2013, 11:47am

There is a lot of upland around here which is part of whatever the "Forestry Commission" is now called. They allow free access to cyclists, except where logging is taking place, day or night.

I cant say that I actually take them up on their offer though. Despite the fact I could cover a lot of distance on them. I will go for a ride when they have built the new windturbines in the forest. :D
Yma o Hyd

DDW
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Joined: 29 Jan 2013, 10:17am

Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby DDW » 9 Oct 2013, 12:41pm

meic wrote:There is a lot of upland around here which is part of whatever the "Forestry Commission" is now called. They allow free access to cyclists, except where logging is taking place, day or night.

I cant say that I actually take them up on their offer though. Despite the fact I could cover a lot of distance on them. I will go for a ride when they have built the new windturbines in the forest. :D



Surprisingly the nearest Forestry commission site near me is also Access Land. Does the land manager wishes override the law?
Everything is relative with proper perspective.

Mark1978
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Location: Chester-le-Street, County Durham

Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby Mark1978 » 9 Oct 2013, 2:04pm

DDW wrote:Surprisingly the nearest Forestry commission site near me is also Access Land. Does the land manager wishes override the law?


The landowever can permit anything they like (within reason) over their land. The law only exists to say that the public has a right of way the landowner cannot revoke, the landowner can add anything else to that they wish.

DDW
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Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby DDW » 9 Oct 2013, 5:16pm

Mark1978 wrote:
DDW wrote:Surprisingly the nearest Forestry commission site near me is also Access Land. Does the land manager wishes override the law?


The landowever can permit anything they like (within reason) over their land. The law only exists to say that the public has a right of way the landowner cannot revoke, the landowner can add anything else to that they wish.



Completely agree if its a landowners wish but I believe that the Forrestry commission is a land management organisation ( for whom I don't know, I suspect the good ol government) but I may be wrong. Does this make a difference ?
Everything is relative with proper perspective.

Fasgadh
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Joined: 20 Aug 2010, 8:13pm

Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby Fasgadh » 11 Oct 2013, 1:59pm

" Unfortunately though, and without any deliberate intent or malice, the regular appearance of mtb's on a footpath would totaly deny many of the pleasures that hill walkers are seeking."

How?

We can share here, why not south of the border?
Reading hillwalking literature, there is a great emphasis on solitude. I would put it that for a lot of hillwalkers, the regular appearance of other hillwalkers would totaly deny many of the pleasures that hill walkers are seeking.

Try sharing instead of playing the goml's divide and rule game.

Adam S
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Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby Adam S » 12 Oct 2013, 12:32am

Strangely for someone who's always concerned about the rights of pedestrians as their space is increasingly opened to cyclists, I have no problem at all with considerate and appropriate use of public footpaths by cyclists. Some may balk and cry trespass but it is by unchallenged use that most of our rights of way network has developed, comparatively little of it being expressly dedicated or created. The legislation which allowed for the recording and signing of rights of way is explicit in stating that their recorded status is definitive proof in law of a certain level of public rights but it is not evidence that no higher rights exist, nor does it prevent the dedication of higher rights (eg. through long use by cyclists).

Case law dictates that it is up to the landowner to make the public aware that they (or certain classes of them eg. cyclists or horses) have no right to be on his land. In the case of a footpath, this could be achieved by signs (eg. footpath only or No cycles), pedestrian gates or stiles, or by turning back trespassers. Faced with clear messages such as these I would suggest that it would be wrong for cyclists to continue but I can see nothing wrong where none are present and (importantly) the use of cycles does not constitute a public nuisance to pedestrians.

drossall
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Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby drossall » 12 Oct 2013, 9:20am

I think I would cry trespass.

Rights of way are a compromise between the rights of the land-owner and the rights of the public. The public are allowed to cross private land, but under certain conditions and in certain ways. It's kind of a bargain, and it's generally not good if one site arrogates additional rights in such circumstances.

Of course, the national parks were themselves brought into being partly by trespass, but that was notified in advance to the press and therefore the authorities, and falls into the tradition of civil disobedience which is one of the ways by which the public can seek to get laws changed. That normally requires doing something openly and in the expectation of possible arrest, and I'm not sure riding down a footpath falls into that category :D

Adam S
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Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby Adam S » 12 Oct 2013, 2:10pm

drossall wrote:I think I would cry trespass.

Rights of way are a compromise between the rights of the land-owner and the rights of the public. The public are allowed to cross private land, but under certain conditions and in certain ways. It's kind of a bargain, and it's generally not good if one site arrogates additional rights in such circumstances.

Leaving aside the separate issue of civil disobedience and the history of countryside campaigning, I would agree with the idea of a compromise or balance between rights of users and landowners. There has never been anything constant about this balance, highways have come into existence and been extinguished by various means over the previous centuries, landownership and highways changed massively by the process of inclosure. If you wish to see it as a compromise, it is one that has been formed by each side pushing its own interests.

I actually see the law as fair in this respect, a good way of helping to ensure that compromise is fair. People are allowed to own and control land for their own private use, if they don't wish the public to access any of it, all they have to do is make it known. Apathy and ambivalence on behalf of a landowner can lead to the acquiring of public rights, but in order for rights to be acquired a significant number of the public need to be using the way over a long period of time. If this criteria is met, it is clear that the benefit to the public from use of the way outweighs the inconvenience to the landowner.

All this is long accepted as part of both countryside access and landownership. The Ramblers Association (etc) keenly submit applications for Definitive Map Modification Orders where a new path can be shown to have come into existence. It is thus highly hypocritical when they object to equestrians and cyclists riding on paths where they do not interfere with the passage of walkers. In fact I would go as far as to say that use by horses or cyclists of an existing footpath presents little or no extra burden or inconvenience to landowners and certainly less than a completely new public footpath. Similarly, the Countryside Act 1968 and CROW Act 2000 endowed cyclists and pedestrians with much greater rights (to ride on bridleways and walk on access land respectively) in a manner which almost completely disregarded landowners wishes. Whereas the acquiring of additional rights along a particular footpath would require the landowner to have taken no action to assert his rights in a 20 year period, and would be dependent on the use being 'legal' (ie. not disrupting other users of the path), these wide ranging pieces of legislation conferred rights over huge areas with little consideration of such issues. Anyone who has an issue with dedication through long use as conflicting with landowners' interests should really be asking for the repeal of these pieces of legislation. :)

Adam S
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Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby Adam S » 12 Oct 2013, 2:26pm

drossall wrote: That normally requires doing something openly and in the expectation of possible arrest, and I'm not sure riding down a footpath falls into that category :D

Hi, sorry just re-read this. Just to clarify, the acquiring of additional rights (ie. to cycle on a footpath) would depend on the use being without force and without secrecy. The cyclist couldn't claim a right to ride a route where he has needed to lift his bike over a fence or negotiate a pedestrian gate or stile, and the use should be such that the landowner should be reasonably aware of it (if he chose to look). However, with few exceptions, trespass isn't a crime and you can't be arrested - If I recall correctly the Kinder scout organisers were arrested for organising a riotous assembly and incitement to violence(!)

drossall
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Location: North Hertfordshire

Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby drossall » 12 Oct 2013, 5:02pm

No, I agree, trespass is not a crime, but I see a difference between an announced disobedience to make a point, possibly at cost to the one disobeying, and going along a path arguing that the land-owner can see "if he chooses to look". He may have other things to do...

Adam S
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Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby Adam S » 12 Oct 2013, 5:10pm

The "if he chose to look" comment was more to do with proving dedication through long use of a route; whilst the use can't be secretive a landowner can't use ignorance of public use as an excuse if it should have been obvious. If a landowner is really concerned about cyclists/horse riders on one of the comparatively few footpaths without pedestrian gates/stiles which could actually be suitable for use by cyclists, it's no big effort to erect a sign saying so. It isn't disobedience if there's no indication you can't use a path.

drossall
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Location: North Hertfordshire

Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby drossall » 12 Oct 2013, 5:27pm

This could go on, so last comment from me. However, I understand the duty as being on me to check whether I am entitled to use a route, rather than on the owner to tell me. Not all public footpaths are signed, so I can't rely on signs being there or not. I'm not sure that I like the thought of a countryside with a proliferation of "private" signs.

Adam S
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Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby Adam S » 12 Oct 2013, 5:45pm

Haha agreed, best it ends here. Centuries have been spent arguing on this sort of thing so we're not likely to solve the problems on a cycling forum :) We can at least console ourselves that the system has worked (in a fashion) for hundreds of years and has not (so far) resulted in an excessive burden upon landowners nor the appropriation of huge numbers of footpaths by errant horse riders.