Public footpath gone AWOL

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quimarche
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Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by quimarche » Sat Aug 01, 2020 9:39 am

I was exploring the Lancashire hinterland yesterday. The OS map shows a public footpath but there's precious little indication that it still exists on the ground. There was no signage, stiles were overgrown with thorns and nettles, a bridge was in serious disrepair and, for the finale, the farmer had ploughed and planted corn over most of it.

Who can I contact to find out if there's still a right of way, or if the footpath has been decommissioned, or the farmer's been very naughty?

fatbikerbill
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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by fatbikerbill » Sat Aug 01, 2020 9:42 am


quimarche
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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by quimarche » Sat Aug 01, 2020 12:58 pm

Many thanks. Email sent to their Public Rights of Way team.

quimarche
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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by quimarche » Mon Aug 03, 2020 1:58 pm

I've had a response from Lancashire's Public Rights of Way team. It may be useful to others. It may also raise a chuckle.

[1] [Footpath 2-20-FP 4 from Whin Lane End to Waterside Farm] is a public footpath and anyone is allowed to walk it as often as they wish

[2] The landowner has obligations not to obstruct it with crops, overgrown hedges, low branches, etc., not to add unauthorised structures (stiles and gates) and to maintain any lawful structures in a safe and convenient condition. The landowner does not have responsibility for weeds, nettles, brambles, etc.
There would not normally be signposts except at the roadside, otherwise yellow arrows can be used.
A bridge could be the responsibility of the landowner or the County Council - those over natural watercourses are generally the responsibility of Lancashire County Council. We have no record of any bridge on that path.

[3] A member of the public is allowed to proceed along the path and where there is a crop or other obstruction to continue or to divert around it, according to the least action necessary (e.g. forcing a way through a crop on the legal line when there is an easy way through/round a few metres to the side would be unreasonable but would be appropriate as well as lawful where the only alternative is round the perimeter of a large field which may or may not turn out to be accessible)

This last comment is what I was hoping for. Having had to fight my way over knackered stiles and bridges, there was no way I was turning back. The field was densely planted with corn, 7 foot high, with no more than 8 inches between neighbouring plants, and with no margin at the field boundaries. My Cowchippers are 2 foot wide. Every plant caught first on the handlebars, then on the pedals.

It took me 65 minutes to cover half a mile, on one of the hottest days of the year, and claustrophobic to boot. Not even type II fun.

Bloody farmers!

pistonbroke
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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by pistonbroke » Mon Aug 03, 2020 2:06 pm

So you were trying to ride a bike on a footpath? I wouldn't let that slip if you have further contact with the local authority and certainly not if you plan on confronting the landowner regarding the obstruction. You might find the Cowchippers used for other than their intended purpose :shock:

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whitestone
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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by whitestone » Mon Aug 03, 2020 2:11 pm

Err, you are on a footpath and complaining that your handlebars are catching on a crop? Got them attached to your helmet pretending to be a Viking or something? :lol:

Sounds like the path doesn't get used that much since if it was then the corn would have been trampled along the line of the path before it had got to any sort of height.
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UnderTheRadars
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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by UnderTheRadars » Mon Aug 03, 2020 2:26 pm

Did you wonder In to a maize maze by accident?

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Cheeky Monkey
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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by Cheeky Monkey » Mon Aug 03, 2020 2:29 pm

quimarche wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 1:58 pm
Bloody farmers!
Bloody bikers :lol: :lol:

benp1
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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by benp1 » Mon Aug 03, 2020 3:01 pm

In Quimarche's defence, he didn't say he was riding. You're perfectly allowed to take your bike for a walk on a footpath

It might have been connecting up two very useful bridleways. It's not too much to ask for a footpath to be the width of a set of bars, not because of the bike, but because that's about what you'd reasonably need to walk down

pistonbroke
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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by pistonbroke » Mon Aug 03, 2020 3:11 pm

No you're not.
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.
According to Cornwall CC and by extension other councils

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thenorthwind
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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by thenorthwind » Mon Aug 03, 2020 3:19 pm

pistonbroke wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 3:11 pm
No you're not.
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.
According to Cornwall CC and by extension other councils
I'm not sure that's actually been tested in a court though? (Happy to be corrected if wrong.) Doesn't really matter what the council think - a civil action would have to be brought against the accused trespasser, and a judge to decide that a bicycle could not reasonably be consider a "usual accompaniment."

But, yeah, doubt the OP was just taking his bike for a stroll :wink:

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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by Cheeky Monkey » Mon Aug 03, 2020 3:33 pm

thenorthwind wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 3:19 pm
pistonbroke wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 3:11 pm
No you're not.
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.
According to Cornwall CC and by extension other councils
I'm not sure that's actually been tested in a court though? (Happy to be corrected if wrong.) Doesn't really matter what the council think - a civil action would have to be brought against the accused trespasser, and a judge to decide that a bicycle could not reasonably be consider a "usual accompaniment."

But, yeah, doubt the OP was just taking his bike for a stroll :wink:
That's broadly my understanding though for some reason the "you can't take it for a walk" viewpoint seems to be repeated a lot. Cycling UK has something on it, IIRC.

quimarche
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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by quimarche » Mon Aug 03, 2020 3:43 pm

To clarify, I was walking with my bike at my side. I couldn't have ridden if I'd wanted to. And the corn was so dense that walking without the bike wouldn't have been much quicker.

"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."

That's a new one to me. I'll go back to the PROW team for clarification.

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thenorthwind
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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by thenorthwind » Mon Aug 03, 2020 3:44 pm

Cheeky Monkey wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 3:33 pm
Cycling UK has something on it, IIRC.
I was recalling that too...

Dug it out: https://www.cyclinguk.org/article/campa ... h-trespass

quimarche
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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by quimarche » Mon Aug 03, 2020 5:07 pm

Top marks to Lancashire PROW team for getting back to me quickly. They say the Cornwall CC rule applies in Lancashire too:

'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.'

Time to move to Scotland!

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thenorthwind
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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by thenorthwind » Mon Aug 03, 2020 5:47 pm

quimarche wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 5:07 pm
'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.'
Again, though (and not suggesting taking a bicycle along any given footpath is wise), the council don't make the law (expect specific byelaws prohibiting bikes from certain places, which is another matter) - this would have to have been tested in court in order to become case law. I (and Cheeky Monkey) don't think that's actually the case, and it seems the council might be repeating the same (extra-)urban myth which has been generally accepted as "the truth".

(of course, IANAL)

Edit: apologies for suggesting you might be breaking said non-law by riding your bike :wink:

pistonbroke
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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by pistonbroke » Mon Aug 03, 2020 6:17 pm

Admittedly the law is muddled and complicated and no case law exists to clarify this but as the "offence" is a civil one of trespass against the landowner. You can be asked to leave the area and sued in extreme circumstances. If some irate walker or nimby confronts you, you are under no obligation to do anything. However having a go at the landowner or council for not facilitating cycling or pushing your bike along a public footpath won't work.

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whitestone
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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by whitestone » Mon Aug 03, 2020 6:44 pm

Generally trespass is a tort not a law so it's not "illegal" unless you also commit damage which would then be classed as "criminal damage". There are certain types of trespass that are illegal - squatting, raves, hunt saboteurs. These seem to have some sort of organisation associated with them.

(Again IANAL)
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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by lune ranger » Mon Aug 03, 2020 7:11 pm

I wonder if it could be deemed that pushing a bike through the crops is criminal damage?

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macinblack
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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by macinblack » Mon Aug 03, 2020 7:31 pm

That Cycling UK article is misleading, particularly what they cite after mentioning DPP v Jones.

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Bearbonesnorm
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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:06 pm

I could be wrong but I recall something about
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.'
was challenged and it was deemed that a bike was no less of an accompaniment than a pair of trekking poles ... I wonder whether I am right and the word 'usual' was added later?
#corporate shill for hire

Lazarus
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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by Lazarus » Mon Aug 03, 2020 10:42 pm

I wonder if it could be deemed that pushing a bike through the crops is criminal damage?
It could be if you have turned up to use the bike to damage crops but not if that is the way the path goes as in the OP's case
So follow a path fine - ride through a wheat field deliberatedly for no reason then criiminal tresspass
That Cycling UK article is misleading, particularly what they cite after mentioning DPP v Jones.
Culd you explain why and what is wrong with it then ?
IANAL

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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by lune ranger » Mon Aug 03, 2020 11:24 pm

Lazarus wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 10:42 pm
I wonder if it could be deemed that pushing a bike through the crops is criminal damage?
It could be if you have turned up to use the bike to damage crops but not if that is the way the path goes as in the OP's case
So follow a path fine - ride through a wheat field deliberatedly for no reason then criiminal tresspass
Really? Even on a public footpath rather than a public bridleway given that you shouldn’t have a bike there anyway.
That seems odd, but so does the whole mess around countryside access.
Farmer would certainly be pissed if they found you doing that though :grin:

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macinblack
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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by macinblack » Mon Aug 03, 2020 11:53 pm

Lazarus wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 10:42 pm
I wonder if it could be deemed that pushing a bike through the crops is criminal damage?
It could be if you have turned up to use the bike to damage crops but not if that is the way the path goes as in the OP's case
So follow a path fine - ride through a wheat field deliberatedly for no reason then criiminal tresspass
That Cycling UK article is misleading, particularly what they cite after mentioning DPP v Jones.
Culd you explain why and what is wrong with it then ?
IANAL
DPP v Jones is a very lengthy judgement and if you don't read all the way through, it's easy to misconstrue it, especially if you only read the dissenting judges view.
In essence the appeal failed and it was established that the defendants had trespassed. What it did do was strengthen the reasonableness test with regard to trespass, particularly around the right to protest and what should be allowed by authorities in light of the Human Rights Act.
This case revolved around the tent city in the City of London around one of the major churches and the subsequent obstruction of the highway caused.
There was many references to previous case law, including Williamson as referenced by cycling UK. Much of it related to obstruction of the highway and that even partial obstruction may be enough to commit an offence.
The reference to protesters waving placards on the highway wasn't really what Jones was addressing and other case law discusses that point more thoroughly. In Jones, the justices said that waving placards may very well be an offence if the reasonableness test was not met.
There is a right to peaceful protest but it is surprising what is not considered peaceful, so sitting in the road for example is not peaceful if someone is actually prevented from enjoying their right to use the highway.
So Cycling UK saying that as the public have right to public access to the highway, they cannot trespass is true but misses the point that a highway's use remains to be to pass and repass and that certain static activity may still be unlawful, as we have said here before, a family having a picnic may be allowable but camping on the highway, maybe not.
The unreasonableness test is much more nuanced than Cycling UK allude to.
They also say that because cycling on a footpath has been held not to be a public nuisance, then because of what was decided in Jones that to do so must be lawful, this is not the case as there is a specific offence of riding, driving or leading a carriage on a footpath.
If I wanted to make an argument for taking my bike on a footpath, I would carry it because though it's often said that you can't get round the law by carrying the bike, I've never found any case law that says you can't do, though the case law around riding, leading or driving is reasonably easy to find.

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Re: Public footpath gone AWOL

Post by Lazarus » Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:37 am

Cheers for the above- Will read the other case law - well a laypersons guide.
Really? Even on a public footpath rather than a public bridleway given that you shouldn’t have a bike there anyway.
Well I assumed you could take a bike Now I think you have to carry it to not get done :wink:

you could try the defence of you took down no more crop than had you walked it - which is true because you walked it - so its not criminal as you have the right to walk it [ in fact claim you walked it first then went back for the bike :-bd ]
Secondly if they had maintained the path for walking their would have been no damage so it was not criminal as you were just excercising a legal right [ and they have responsibilities to not hinder the path]

personaly i cannot see what damage you are going to do with a bike to a footpath nor anything that would be criminal unless you do something that either
1) damages something - crops a style gate etc
2)You block the path and stop others using it - though of course you could do this by standing still on foot and being an arse.

Civil tresspass i can see - leave so you do but criminal not sure what you have to do to get to that point
IANAL and ,clearly, others are way more informed than I am

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