Common Land

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  • Common Land
  • Premier Icon midlifecrashes
    Subscriber

    Common Land has lots of meanings, and some patches of it are more restricted than others. So it’s not easy to generally say go for it, you really need to know the individual area’s history and legislation/byelaws.

    If you play nice and aren’t damaging it or interfering with it’s lawful use, of course you should go exploring.

    rattrap
    Member

    As midlifecrashes alluded to – the legal position of common land is, at the very least, “complex”

    I would vote for ‘go for it’ and if anyone questions you, ‘play dumb’

    mrmo
    Member

    briefly, Common land is open to commoners.

    How do you know your a commoner, well if you have to ask your probably not. You may be allowed to use the land but there is no guarantee. Oh and bikes will probably be banned, or at the very most tolerated. There is almost no chance that bikes are specifically allowed to use the land other than on any Boat or Bridleway that may exist.

    yunki
    Member

    I would vote for ‘go for it’ and if anyone questions you, ‘play dumb’

    agreed

    “Common Land” is actually a bit of a misnomer. All land in the UK is owned by somebody – be it an individual or an organisation.

    The term “common land” simply denotes land which is owned by someone, but over which other people have rights protected in law, be it local, regional or national. A good example is the right to pasture cattle on common land.

    Unless there are public rights of way across said land then you may not have a right to cross it, as local by-laws may prevent access. That said, little is likely to come of it if you do go exploring and somebody objects.

    gusamc
    Member

    in theory only, obviously, well only a landowner or an appointed factor thereof can ask you to leave privately owned land (*you can passs/repass a prow) – so you could always ask a challenger for legal title information – take a paper notepad and pen and make sure you lick the pen a lot and get them to repeat stuff and spell obvious words

    (*edit – as a suggestion, I tend to be cheeky when cheeky is (imho) appropriate – ie not ploughing a massive furrow through a nice, but tad soft lovely green lawn section etc etc or on an obvioulsy maintained bit of ground etc)

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    http://cheekytrails.co.uk/ in general you don’t have any right to be there, but the chances are nobody will stop you. If anybody complains they’ll most likely be a red-sock who doesn’t actually have any right to stop you (that’s certainly my experience!) If challenged remember to be polite. I’ve ridden on common land without problem – common land which has BWs on it but I’ve not necessarily been anywhere near them.

    mmel
    Member

    Thanks chaps, I’ll proceed with caution!

    mmel
    Member

    Morning

    What’s the deal with riding on common land. There’s a nice hilly lump of it near where me and the Mr’s like to holiday and according to the OS maps it only has a couple of footpaths running over it. From walking up there over the weekend I found many more trails than charted, some of which would be great on the bike.

    Am I allowed to go two wheeled exploring? 😕

    big_n_daft
    Member

    bikes are classed as vehicles and for the most part not allowed

    Some places do allow them, usually with some “agreement” being in place

    Lee Quarry being a example of an Urban Common where bikes are allowed

    Premier Icon schnor
    Subscriber

    A majority of common land is now classed as ‘Access land’ where unless you’ve been given permission you don’t have a right of access on a bike (see near the bottom in my article).

    As mentioned though some urban commons allow bikes on them, so it can be confusing. As above, plead ignorance if things go bad, which chances are they won’t.

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    bikes are classed as vehicles

    Not legally they’re not.

    daznal
    Member

    If its common land you wont find me riding on it I only ride on the posh stuff!

    mmel
    Member

    Schnor – thanks for the link, interesting reading

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    another thing to bear in mind is that some common land is governed by separate statutes or bylaws so the normal cheeky rules about trespass dont apply. However sanctions are usually limited to fines and bans which are hard to enforce if you leg it quick enough 😀

    Premier Icon Nipper99
    Subscriber

    See also section 193 of the Law of Property Act 1925 for criminal liability depending on the type of common in question. Horses were not permitted under 193 so i doubt bikes would be (but given that Open Access i think allows a right to ride but not cycle that is less relevant now unless your common wasn’t open access land).

    rattrap
    Member

    Horses were not permitted under 193 so i doubt bikes would be

    No, vehicles, carts and carriages etc (and yes, bicycles are classes as vehicles) are specifically prohibited from having rights of access on urban commons, whereas Horses were not mentioned as prohibited (or permitted) however caselaw has included them under the ‘right to air and exercise’ so they also have free rein on those commons too (and many would argue that in spirit should apply to us too, but we’re quite clearly banned) – it gets more complex when you realise that the landowner can give us permission to ride there, so 20 years of unpermitted and unchallenged use could potentially gain us a prescriptive right in perpetuity if we built up evidence and took it to court – however the fine on conviction in magistrates court is only £20 IIRC, so, you know, worth the risk I’d say 😉

    Premier Icon Nipper99
    Subscriber

    which case is that rattrap – i only know of Miens v Stone re horses which says otherwise. Interested to know as commons and common land access is a large part of my daily work.

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    yes, bicycles are classes as vehicles

    <sigh> no they’re not. They might come under the same regulations in some parts of the law, but they’re not vehicles.

    Premier Icon midlifecrashes
    Subscriber

    No point in starting fights about access unless you know the status of the particular tract. Within three miles of where I’m sitting there are half a dozen places locally or on OS maps referred to as commons or common land. Only one is a true common, others are private agricultural land with longstanding informal access, one is an urban park and another a Town or Village Green. Different rules and conventions for each.

    TuckerUK
    Member

    The only common I’m totally au fait with is Wimbledon Common, and bicycles are banned except for the clearly marked and mostly very tame cycle paths.

    I can’t remember that being the case when I was a lad in the 70s and 80s, or maybe I just couldn’t give a toss then?

    supertacky
    Member

    Scotland – Right to roam superb.

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