Developing new paths for cycling in the countryside

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Do you ride - or want to ride - on a particular path, but can't tell whether you're allowed to do so? Does your favourite bridleway suddenly turn into a footpath and you wish it didn't? Do you want to do something about it? Read on...
Riding off-road
Riding off-road


How to tell where cycling's legal

  • Footpaths are open to walkers only (yellow waymarkings)
  • Bridleways are open to walkers, horse riders and cyclists (blue waymarkings)
  • Restricted byways are open to walkers, cyclists, horse riders and horse drawn vehicles (plum waymarkings)
  • Byways Open to All Traffic (BOATs) are open to walkers, cyclists, horse riders, horse-drawn vehicles and motor vehicles (red waymarkings).

A list of all recorded public rights of way is kept in each county or unitary council offices, and is called the 'definitive map'. The maps were first drawn up in the 1950s, and authorities (except Inner London boroughs) have a duty to keep the map under continuous review (s53 Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981).

A route that isn't on the map could still be a right of way, however. And, just because a way is shown as a footpath, it doesn't necessarily mean that you can't cycle on it.

Cyclists are usually most interested in the addition of bridleways and restricted byways. (The establishment of new BOATs has been severely curtailed by the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006).

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