Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Rights of Way

Another boring legal posting I'm afraid due to the minor kerfuffle over the blocking of an alleged bridle path in Kidderminster. It seems people still don't know the distinctions so let's try and solve that.

Firstly Right of Way. Sadly this can easily be conflated with 'Who gets to go first' as such I'll refer to it as 'Right of Use' instead. What a 'Right of Use' means is that whoever possesses such cannot be prevented from using that route except on a temporary basis (Roadworks, Scene of Crime, etc.) what it doesn't mean is that only they can use that route. So dealing with the main types:

Highway:  In this case the Public Highway which is a Carriageway possibly with an accompanying Footway. (This is why you can't beat a parking fine by using the 'pavement')
Carriageway: A 'right of use' for carriages.
Footway: A 'right of use' for pedestrians. A general restriction for carriages excepting for access (bicycles and horses count as carriages).
Footpath: A 'right of use' for pedestrians. General restriction on motor carriages except on lawful authority. (This is why groundskeepers can drive in parks)
Bridle path: A 'right of use' for pedestrians and horses. General restriction on motor carriages.

This means that horses and cyclists can ride on footpaths but not footways; but the council can choose (by application of a TRO) to prevent that. The council cannot prevent a pedestrian from using a footway, footpath or bridle path; nor a horse from using a bridle path or carriageway.

In theory we can add:

Cycleway:  A 'right of use' for cyclists. General restriction on motor carriages.

Which means a pedestrian or a horse can use such, unless a local TRO prevents it.

That's the simplified version. It can get complicated for example pushing a bike doesn't count as a carriage, but leading a horse does. Do skateboards, roller skates, push scooters or wheelchairs count as carriages. How about motorised wheelchairs? Still lots of fun for lawyers to chew over.