Changing the status of rights of way (England & Wales)

Cherry Allan's picture
Cyclists riding off-road
Much more of the rights of way network could be opened up for cycling
Headline Messages: 
  • The Rights of Way (RoW) network in England and Wales is extremely fragmented, and there is an urgent need to fill in the gaps to make it more attractive for healthy and enjoyable outdoor activities like cycling. This can be done through a legal process involving ‘Orders’.
Key facts: 
  • Only around a fifth of the public rights of way in England and Wales is available to cyclists.
  • Statutory Orders can be used to expand the network of paths legally available for cycling in the countryside. Different types of Orders can: modify an authority’s definitive map and statement of pubic rights of way in the case of errors or omissions; create, extinguish or divert rights of way; or regulate or prohibit cycling or motor traffic on the highway.
Cycling UK View (formal statement of Cycling UK's policy): 

Map Modification Orders (MMOs)

  • Highway authorities should make resources available to ensure that the definitive map accurately represents the full bridleway and byway network before the ‘cut off date’ of 1 January 2026.
  • Cycling UK will normally oppose moves to downgrade or delete bridleways and byways, and support upgrading or creating them.
  • As the current system is overly resource-intensive, the Government and its agencies should take steps to develop and implement more effective ways of making and confirming Orders.

Public Path Orders (PPOs)

  • The needs of residents, landowners and businesses should be sympathetically considered whenever they want to make reasonable diversions around residential properties or farm buildings, or alter the line of a path so that it goes round the edge of field (headland), rather than across it (cross field).
  • If, however, the diversion means that cyclists would suffer a loss of amenity, or usability (e.g. longer and/or steeper routes, poorer surfaces etc), Cycling UK is unlikely to support the proposal.
  • Cycling UK will, however, normally oppose any proposed downgrades (e.g. downgrading a bridleway to a footpath that cyclists can no longer use).

Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs)

  • Wherever possible, Cycling UK will liaise with highway authorities to seek alternative solutions to TROs on byways, bridleways or unsurfaced roads.
  • Cycling UK will normally oppose any regular renewal of a temporary TRO, because remedies to deal with the problem in question should be the priority.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
March 2016

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