West Berkshire Council

Cycling on Public Rights of Way

Information regarding which public rights of way cyclists can use

We often receive complaints from walkers about cyclists riding inconsiderately and too fast both on public footpaths and public bridleways. A pavement at a side of a road is called a public footway (not a public footpath) - it is illegal to cycle on a public footway (roadside pavement). It is not illegal to cycle on a cycle track, which will usually be signed at each end. 

There is no legal right for the public to cycle on a public footpath although it isn't a criminal offence to do so unless done so unreasonably (eg dangerously or in a way that causes a public nuisance). However, it is a trespass (civil offence) against the landowner unless he/she permits cycling along the route.

Cyclists have a legal right to ride on public bridleways providing they give way to walkers and horseriders. Cyclists also have a right to ride on restricted bridleways and byways open to all traffic (BOATs).

Please check the status of a right of way before cycling along it so you know if it is appropriate for you to be using it. All rights of way are marked at the roadside with signposts and they are also marked at intervals along the routes with small arrows. Public footpaths in West Berkshire are marked with signs like these and with yellow arrows. Please do not cycle on these routes unless permitted to do so.

The Canal and Rivers Trust permits the public to cycle along their towpaths, but pedestrians have priority over cyclists. You can see more tips on their website:

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