RoW question – is pushing or carrying your bike on a footpath legal?

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  • RoW question – is pushing or carrying your bike on a footpath legal?
  • As above.

    Endured rather an unpleasant incident with a landowner in the Bingley area on Saturday.


    As I understand, there isn't at the moment a conclusive answer to this.
    There was a case some years back when a person was hit by a car pushing their bike across a pedestrian crossing. The defence claimed that the bike was an unnatural accompaniment to a pedestrian (on footpaths a bicycle is not considered a natural accompaniment, as say a pram would be). The judge decided that a bike was a perfectly reasonable accompaniment under such cases.
    Whether this extends to public footpaths has yet to be established, and almost certainly never will be.


    *SFB* You can ride wherever you like *SFB*

    On a more legal note, you can ride wherever you like. The law says that a footpath for instance has proven rights for people to use it on foot, without prejudice as to higher rights which may exist. If you are riding a footpath and are "caught", you may be asked to leave by the most direct route, but only by a police officer, the landowner, or the landowner's agent – a random walker for instance cannot require you to leave. Same goes for taking you details by the way. It is NOT a criminal offence unless a specific local bye-law has been passed, e.g. such a law has been passed within the peak district.

    as for carrying vs pushing, personally if they ask me to leave I'll offer to ride away by the most direct route, or will push, but there's no way I'd carry a bike at someone else's request – only if the ground conditions dictated that it was easier to carry, in which case I probably wouldn;t be riding there anyway

    Up near the top of Altar Lane by any chance?

    Newly arsey landowner up there by all accounts. You could leave your bike on the B/W and walk alone across the footpath & he'd still have a go

    Are prams legal? What about micro scooters? Roller blades? Space Hoppers?

    I think we should be told…

    You got it John.

    It was never my intention to cycle across the land which I know to be a footpath and note the new signs (which appear official) referencing various acts and giving the contact details of the local RoW officer. Later I noticed that they claim that carrying and pushing is also prohibited. It's only a couple of hundred yards. So we decided to push.

    Was physically confronted and pushed in the chest when I attempted to cross the stile part way across. I offered to carry my bike, even asked if it'd be OK if I took the wheels out. No. Apparently.

    All these are interesting issues Peter but I'm specifically interested in the case of bikes.

    I'm considering doing something about what happened to me if at all possible.

    Would be keen to meet local bikers and see if we can get something moving to resolve this rediculous state of affairs.

    Premier Icon grtdkad

    If anyone pushed me in the chest I'd be putting in a formal complaint to the old bill (or better again tw@ him one!!)

    The brave boy was a good 2 stone heavier than me and some inches taller.

    Was seriously rattled at the time.

    I'm afraid I ended up calling him a tosser.

    b r

    And remember that there is a diffence between a footpath and a pavement, AFAIK its illegal to ride on a pavement, but not on a footpath.

    And TBH the only law you could be accused of breaking is trespass, and that requires 'intent' to commit a crime. So calling him a 'to55er' was probably correct.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith

    Cornwall say no
    Full Page

    No bicycles on footpaths

    Last updated: 26/10/2009 Add to My Bookmarks

    Did you know that you shouldn't take your bicycle on a footpath?

    You can take:

    A dog – dogs must be kept under close control, preferably on a lead and ;
    A pram, pushchair or wheelchair – but please expect stiles and gates unless advertised as an easily accessible route
    However, in law a bicycle is not considered to be a 'usual' accompaniment on a footpath. To push (or carry) a bicycle is, therefore, to commit a trespass against the holder of the land over which the path runs.

    More interesting reading here potentially a pedal cycle looses it's vehicle status once the rider dismounts but it is all very grey. A bike carried on your back is in effect an interesting wheeled rucksack, it only takes the legal form of a bike when it is ridden.

    Most information says never tested in court of law as presumably if the case was lost it would form a huge precedent on the definitions of Footpaths/Bridleways etc

    Premier Icon scaredypants

    call the RoW officer, tell them that he pushed you and ask them what future action you should take

    (encourage everyone else using the path to do the same if/when it happens to them)

    Ed: I also think that it's very reasonable to carry a bike if the FP links 2 bridleways (or a road and BW). However, if you're using this carrying lark as a cover for poaching trails – stop doing so on this geezer's land or assume the confrontations will continue and escalate

    Was physically confronted and pushed in the chest when I attempted to cross the stile part way across. I offered to carry my bike, even asked if it'd be OK if I took the wheels out. No. Apparently.

    at best that's a criminal assault by the landowner. Call the old bill. And then Bradford Council RoW officer. and organise a mass trespass.

    in the meantime, if you're wanting to cross Harden Moor, and this is the b/w – f/p where you had the problem: – then there's another permissive b/w which goes all the way across, approx 1/4 a mile nearer to Harden – here:

    It's also arguably more interesting from a MTBer point of view

    That map shows it as a f/p but I've been riding it for at least 8 years and it's marked on the ground as a permissive bridleway

    Premier Icon Simon

    @Grittyshaker, I sometimes use that route in the summer to get to work and have ridden through the field on and off for the last 15 years or so without incident. If you take it further I'd be interested to know what happens.

    The BW/footpath classification seems a bit arbitary as the BW finishes at the field wall and as such doesn't go anywhere.

    EDIT Did you cross the field or turn back in the end?

    I don't know whether it's legal to carry a bike on a footpath – but it's assault to be pushed in the chest by someone, tosser or not.

    Might be worth asking the local RoW officer what the 'footpath' is really classified as on the definative map. Could be a Bridleway anyway and the new landowner is just being a tosser

    Ernie and Repack – please could you take this somewhere else? I am seriously trying to get some answers to an issue which will chime with a lot of people on here.

    @ Simon – I've also used that footpath since I started biking in the late 80s. I'll admit that I've sometimes ridden along it, but sometimes it's been nice to walk it (you can see Pen y Ghent from there). Since the signs have gone up though, I've always walked it so as not to annoy anyone. It's only 200 metres or so. The path is definitively a footpath. It's got "squeeze stiles" at each end.

    @ hamishthecat – Landowners can use "reasonable force" to eject trespassers. If I was trespassing he probably used reasonable (though unpleasant) force. In pushing or carrying my bike on a footpath am I a trespasser? It's this I'm trying to resolve before taking it further.

    I have contacted the RoW Officer to ask:

    Are the signs yours?
    What specific law prohibits "pushing and carrying"?
    If this is a local interpretation of the law (in absence of statute or established case law) why is it such a mean one?

    I'll let you know how I get on. A mass trespass could well be on the cards. Any locals fancy meeting to discuss a sensible approach? Please PM me.

    Premier Icon ahwiles

    play nicely now,

    as of 30 seconds ago, my response to the age-old 'you're not allowed bikes on here' has been

    "itsa permissive footpath…' – followed by a patronising eye roll.

    Premier Icon Simon

    I think contacting RoW Officer is probably the best approach. A mass trespass could be interesting.

    @ Simon – Agree. I'll await the outcome from the RoW.

    If I'm told that this is a local interpretation of the law by Bradford Met's RoW Dept. I'd be inclined to challenge it. As it appears to be in the interests of one person's objection rather than the reasonable enjoyment of the many. It may be that Bradford Met are under more pressure from the landowner to yield to his preferred interpretation than they are of ours and I'd like to change this if there appears scope to do so.

    Agree. Not a mass trespass. A mass legitimate use. A large group of people pushing/carrying their bikes (in part or dismantled) from both ends at the same time could indeed be interesting.

    I don't know much about rights of way hence I didn't respond. The push in the chest is assault tho – I'd report it to the police and the ROW officer.

    Ernie – ta but I was ignoring him

    Big and daft – grow up and try not to live up to your name.

    @ TJ – The push in the chest wouldn't be assault if I was trespassing. It'd be reasonable force. Was upset and angry at the time though. It's just I'm not sure I was trespassing. This is what I'm trying to find out.

    Have told the RoW officer what happened. If they tell me that the signs are not theirs or that the prohibition on pushing and carrying is a local interpretation of the law. I'll think about challenging both the local authority to change their interpretation and/or the landowner for assault.

    I should say. Please, everyone, be careful at the location. The landowner is a physically assertive and capable person. It only takes him to have got out the wrong side of the bed one morning and things could be worse than a shove in the chest.

    I had to turn back.

    @ John Drummer – You're right about the alternative permissive route but the route I was using, including the 200 meter push/carry on the footpath makes a satisfying anticlockwise of circuit of Harden Moor which, as far as I know, I'm entirely within my rights to complete. We'll see.

    @ Big-n-daft – Thanks for the pointer towards the CTC. Not so daft in the end!

    PS – Will post an alert about this location on the Riding forum.


    grittyshaker – Member

    @ TJ – The push in the chest wouldn't be assault if I was trespassing. It'd be reasonable force. Was upset and angry at the time though. It's just I'm not sure I was trespassing. This is what I'm trying to find out.

    It depends, it's not "reasonable force" unless you were actively refusing to depart.

    As NBT says – he only has IIRC the right to ask you to leave by the shortest available route and can only use reasonable force if you refuse – and the force must be commensurate with risk / damage you are causing him / his land


    i've been up there today and luckily we didn't bump into the aggressive landowner – My mate who I was riding with is in the marines and has just spent 8 days in the nevada desert doing advanced high level parachute training with American special forces – he arrived home on Saturday morning and was very tired/grumpy. I wouldn't have wanted to be there if he was pushed in the chest by this guy.

    Thanks for the tip – ill avoid in future.

    Ianmunro and NBT are pretty much spot on on this – there is, unfortunately, no definitive answer at the moment.

    I think "reasonable force" would only occur if you had refused or delayed leaving, however since its likely a bit of argument both ways and raised temperatures both sides then I doubt anything would come of it.

    I'd be keen to challenge the ROW department to justify their position, The position of "natural accompaniment" is a somewhat outdated interpretation due to being superseded by the the caselaw – probably worth mentioning DPP Vs Jones, which is quite clear that the test is one of reasonableness

    The question to which this appeal gives rise is whether the law today should recognise that the public highway is a public place, on which all manner of reasonable activities may go on… … Provided these activities are reasonable, do not involve the commission of a public or private nuisance, and do not amount to an obstruction of the highway unreasonably impeding the primary right of the general public to pass and repass, they should not constitute a trespass

    I'll post this up on the BikeMagic > North Leeds forum thread – we do the Harden/St Ives/Altar Lane/Cullingworth/Manywells/Wilsden circuit on a very regular basis and we don't want to rub this fella up the wrong way until RoW man has had his say.

    I have a feeling that this will all end in tears. If he is as agressive as he's been painted on more than one occasion, a visit by the RoW officer may just make him worse.

    Just a thought – not a well known former show-jumper of these parts is it?

    Premier Icon Onzadog

    anyone got a spare wheelchair? I fancy riding one over a footpath!

    b r

    A dog – dogs must be kept under close control, preferably on a lead and ;

    I think you'll find that on a footpath/bridleway on private land you have to have your dog on a lead.

    Br – I don't think so – under close control tho which usuallymeans on a lead but if your dog will follow at heel without running off then that will do

    anyone got a spare wheelchair? I fancy riding one over a footpath!

    hehe………I like it 😀

    Although even better ………… a "recumbent" wheelchair 8)

    Premier Icon stumpyjon

    I think the others have covered the fact it is a grey area quite well. We're not going to definitively know whether you can carry your bike until someone with a stck of cash and no brains tries to sue someone doing it.

    Just a thought but isn't there and appeals process for reviewing the status of footpaths mis-categorised in the 60s (when most rights of way were reclassified). This sort of thing happened a lot, one guy would walk along a route and aclassify it as a bridleway, his colleague would come in from the oppostie direction and classify that part as a footpath. Might p*ss the landowner off a bit. I know you shouldn't be there but really what's the harm, particularly if you're pushing or carrying your bike. The guy's a knob and he's behaving like it.

    PS I've just discovered that it's OK to lead horses and mules etc. on bridleways but heaven forbid you try and drive a llama across one 🙄

    Premier Icon mAx_hEadSet

    Trust me I'm a Rights of Way Officer….. and have been for over 20 years…

    If I was the man in the street I'd probably be happy taking up NBT's advice although it's not necessarily particularly correct advice. I would also like to commend Scaredypant's contribution.

    The bottom line of what is allowed or not on a right of way is defined in the Highways Act.. it's available as is all current legislation online at or something like that, on that basis the only lawful way to cycle on is a Byway Open to All Traffic, or RuPP (now Restricted Byway) and public roads. Cycling was introduced on bridleways by the Countryside Act 1968 by removal of the offence they committed by doing so, prior to that all highways legislation lumped cycles in with carriages, so Cyclists could only expect to go anywhere you could go with a Pony & Trap.

    The Countryside Act acted not by extending cyclists rights but simply removed the offence of taking a cycle onto a bridleway from statute, in doing so ensured no landowner or highway authority had any obligation to ensure the bridleway was fit and suitable for cycling which had a right to cycle been created would have been the case had it been amended in the Highways act definitions.

    So what about walking / carrying bikes? most times I encounter this is when someone chooses to seek a defence for when being caught cycling on a path by swiftly dismounting to become a pedestrian I have no doubt the law as currently drafted and case law could create any defence.

    if, however, a landowner met a walker using the path carrying goods or property that might be wheeled and even be capable of propulsion then as long as it does not touch the surface of the right of way then the landowner should have no reason to consider challenging the walkers rights.

    I can't see how the law would ever be changed to restrict those cutting through from one bridleway to the other who do so carrying a bike on their shoulder or back, however it is clear that footpaths were designated to be free of cyclists and as a legal principle this is common across much of europe and america where such designation usually excludes non pedestrians with sanctionable penalties for breaches.

    If riders try pushing bikes to extend their riding opportunities when caught they will also be pushing the boundary on this one and doing so I think it is more likely that the government might choose to introduce the kind of restrictive legislation needed that firmly keeps cyclists off footpaths rather than extending the designation to enable paths to be used by cyclists. There are more groups than the landowners and ramblers who would push for legal action and example being the disabled who have made strong representation on the dangers to disabled pedestrians from cyclists that has already the government listening.


    This is the field in question

    Line of path goes leftwards from gate to meet, and follow, the wall to a stile.


    That sign is not a council sign

    Thank **** I live in Scotland

    Premier Icon fruitbat

    Thank **** I live in Scotland

    Aye me too!

    Premier Icon mAx_hEadSet

    Nope that's not a Council Sign and if a council erected one it would be meaningless as it is for the landowner not the council (or another users) to say who cant use a right of way, to be fair track looks sunken.. field edge and fitted with gates and evidence horseriders are trying to use it…, if someone told me that was an old road I'd not be looking too shocked. If there is no stile and that gate is padlocked he's probably blocking the footpath too

    Premier Icon epicyclo

    There's an election coming up. Many marginal seats.

    Maybe it's time to hit the pollies to get the same freedoms in England as we have been enjoying in Scotland. Basically the right to go anywhere within reason.

    There's enough Scottish pollies in Westminster for this to get a bit of a run.


    "That map shows it as a f/p but I've been riding it for at least 8 years and it's marked on the ground as a permissive bridleway "
    If you zoom in from your 1:50k map to the 1:25k map it shows it as a permissive bridleway

    "No mountain bikes or horses"
    Theres your solution, take a CX bike!

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