Green Laning

Welcome to the Green Lanes section of the website

In the United Kingdom, a byway open to all traffic (BOAT) is a highway over which the public have a right of way for vehicular and all other kinds of traffic but which is used by the public mainly for the purpose for which footpaths and bridleways are used. (United Kingdom Road Traffic Regulation Act, 1984, section 15(9)(c), as amended by Road Traffic (Temporary Restrictions) Act, 1991, Schedule 1). Byways account for less than 2% of England’s Rights of Way network.

A byway open to all traffic is sometimes waymarked using a red arrow on a metal or plastic disc or by red paint dots on posts and trees.

Some by-ways that have not been over modernised retain traces of the aggers (or ditches) that originally ran along each side of the lane; good examples of this can be seen along the side of the Roman “Ermine Street” as it crosses through Lincolnshire. By contrast, straight enclosure roads which were laid out between 1760 and 1840 run through the then newly enclosed lands with straight walls or hedges.

The Nature and History of the Byway

Many former Roman roads were later used as convenient parish boundaries – unlike the newer enclosure roads which rarely ran along boundaries but were solely designed to give access from a village to its newly created fields and to the neighbouring villages. The latter can often be seen to bend and change width at the parish boundary and as such reflect the work of the different surveyors who had each built a road from a village to its boundary. If the roads did not meet up exactly, which was quite common, a sharp double bend would result.

Roads used as public paths

A road used as public path (RUPP) was one of the three types of public right of way (along with footpaths and bridleways) introduced by the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. The Countryside Act 1968 required all highway authorities to reclassify RUPPs in their area – occasionally as public footpaths but in practice generally as public bridleways unless public vehicular rights were demonstrated to exist in which case it would become a Byway Open to All Traffic.

This process was slow as it involved research into historic usage and often public enquiries, and so was not completed by the time the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, 2000 was passed. This reclassified all remaining RUPPs as Restricted Byways on 2 May 2006.

Restricted Byways

On 2 May 2006 the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 reclassified all remaining Roads Used as Public Paths as restricted byways. The public’s rights along a restricted byway are to travel:

  • on foot
  • on horseback or leading a horse
  • by any vehicle (e.g. bicycles, horse-drawn carriages) other than mechanically propelled vehicles (e.g. motorbikes or cars)

The Byway Code

  • Avoid badly rutted/sodden tracks, you’ll only make them worse and slow their recovery.
  • All byways have a national speed limit however it is recommended you drive slowly (max 12mph), stop if you encounter walkers or horses (and always switch of your engine for the latter).
  • Travel in groups of five vehicles or fewer.
  • Don’t damage trees or hedgerows, except for sympathetically cutting back any overhanging branches that get in the way of the lane.
  • Don’t travel alone
  • Take recovery gear/spade in case you get stuck. And make sure that your mobile phone is fully charged.
  • Any open gates should be left open and closed ones closed again once you have gone through. It only takes seconds.
  • Take your litter home.
  • Ensure that you supervise dogs and children at all times, especially when you are passing near live stock.
  • Avoid driving all waterways unless there is an obvious right of way.

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