Are bridleways subject to the Highway code

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  • Are bridleways subject to the Highway code
  • Premier Icon simon1975

    Bridleway: Highway for use on foot or horseback
    (unless specifically prohibited, cyclists can also use a
    bridleway but are required to give way to other users).

    So a Bridleway is a Highway.

    Some bridleways have private means of access over them (for vehicles), so motors certainly need to obey the Highway code in that instance.

    Premier Icon The Pinkster

    My understanding is that a significant proportion of the Highway Code isn’t actually legally enforceable anyway as the majority is based on best practice rather than law so to say it applies is a bit of a misdirection.

    Premier Icon Sandwich

    The Pinkster, like H&S law those bits that are best practice are Quasi Legal. Commit an offence and it’s up to you to prove that what you were doing at the time was as good as or better than that recommended in the Highway Code. Such is the stuff that makes lawyers rich.


    The Highway Code in itself isn’t law but it does include extracts from the various Highways acts and so on. The clue is if the sentence begins with “you must” or “you must not” and so on.


    I was looking for some stats on the number of miles of BW in the Peak and came across this

    It says that bridleways subject to the Highway code. Is this correct? I can see some crossover areas but I can also see a couple of problems.

    I dunno, I thought yes, and had a vague recolection that the national speed limit, tax, insurance and MOT requirements still applied to enduro/MX/Trail bikes on BW’s, but then they’re mostly private land, so the landowner could put any rules he liked on them (as long as you still maintained a right or way), then there’s path’s that aren’t rights or way, anything from a permissive bridleway or toll road to a racetrack.

    Premier Icon jonathan

    If you’re on a highway (regardless of whether it’s across private land with the permission of the landowner) then all the usual traffic laws, as “outlined” in the Highway Code, apply. To be a highway implies that there is (in effect) free access to it. It’s doesn’t mean that it has to be a right of way (as far as I can see), but any route over which free access is generally permitted – including a permissive bridleway for instance. If you have to pay to use it, or need a license (such as on a canal towpath or a race track) then it’s not a highway.

    Which laws are applicable will depend on the nature of the route you’re on. So how much of the Highway Code applies when riding lumpy singletrack in the middle of nowhere is probably a moot point. Some principles will apply, but much of the detail will be irrelevant.

    Obviously, on top of this is the question of what is reasonably enforceable. Regardless of the likelihood of it happening, it would take a particularly vindictive copper to issue a penalty notice over rear lights, or reflectors (for instance) in such a situation.


    Tinas, motorbikes aren’t permitted on a bridleway so not sure where you’re going with that

    I wonder how many times I’ve broken the code with things like lights and not keeping left etc

    Member probably a moot point.

    Nothing to add to the discussion really, just wanted to give respect a rare example of the word “moot” being deployed correctly.

    Tinas, motorbikes aren’t permitted on a bridleway so not sure where you’re going with that

    I was thinking back to when there were BOAT’s and RUPP’s. On the basis that if motorbikes/4×4’s have to stick to the highway code where they’re allowed access then so would pedal cycles where they were allowed access.


    Fair point.

    Premier Icon timmys

    Tinas, motorbikes aren’t permitted on a bridleway so not sure where you’re going with that

    I guess he must have meant byway by “BW’s”. I which case I believe any motor vehicle must be road legal (so a motocross bike would not be legal, whereas an enduro bike with lights etc. would be).

    EDIT: Too bloody slow

    Premier Icon Del

    think bridleways are considered highways which is why races cannot use them but reliability trials etc. can.

    Premier Icon singlespeedstu

    so a motocross bike would not be legal, whereas an enduro bike with lights etc. would be

    A bike does not have to have lights to be road legal. 🙂

    If it was manufactured without lights you can still register it without them.
    Easy to do with a trials bike. Less easy to do with an MX bike due to things other than lights.

    Premier Icon schnor

    Yes (which is for all intents and purposes a no) 🙂

    Yes to mechanically propelled vehicles (MPV’s) on motorised routes – for all the reasons tinas and timmys covered.

    Strictly speaking bikes have to stick to the Highway code on Bridleways as they are still highways (and a road #), but because there are so few restrictions (the only ones that come to mind are that you *must* obay traffic signs / traffic signals / lights – which you don’t get on Bridleways), it’s effectively no.

    Again, the only thing that comes to mind, is you must not “ride on a road in a dangerous, careless or inconsiderate manner”, with ‘road’ including Bridleways (#). A quick google found this, so a fine at worst (two case examples)

    Plus as has been mentioned earlier the HC isn’t the law as such, but an easily digestible summary of the various laws in a single booklet.

    It starts to get complicated in scenarious tinas touches on (what is a “road”?, if not a “road” is it a public place, etc etc – thankfully it’s OT though 🙂 )

    Premier Icon aracer

    Rue 145 clearly applies to BWs and FPs 😉

    Premier Icon simon1975

    Here’s the pertinent bit about Bridleways that are “roads”:

    It is important to note that references to ‘road’ therefore generally include footpaths, bridleways and cycle tracks, and many roadways and driveways on private land (including many car parks). In most cases, the law will apply to them and there may be additional rules for particular paths or ways. Some serious driving offences, including drink-driving offences, also apply to all public places, for example public car parks.

    Given the number of cyclists not using lights at night on city streets where they are likely to be mown down by HGVs and cars driven by mobile-phone touting idiots, I don’t think people riding bikes on bridleways without rear lights at night is going to worry the plod… But the “keep left” and “obey the signs” rules make a lot of sense on busy bridleways like in the Dark Peak honeypots. Many bridleways aren’t anything like roads, and barely passable on foot at certain times of the year, so it’ll be hard to make the rules fit… it’s horses for courses 😉

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