Are off-road vehicles allowed on bridleways?

Ever seen a motor vehicle heading down a bridleway? Well we asked Rebecca Stojak, a solicitor for Shakespeare Martineau on the law regarding who should and who shouldn't be using your local bridleway. 

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What’s the law regarding off-road vehicles and bridleways? 

On a bridleway, you're allowed to ride or lead a horse.

Walkers and cyclists are also allowed to use bridleways, but cyclists must give way to horses, riders and walkers.

Restricted bridleways can be used by all non-mechanically-propelled traffic, such as a horse-drawn carriage.

It’s an offence to drive a mechanically-powered or motorised vehicle, such as a quad or scrambler bike, on a bridleway or restricted bridleway.

It doesn’t matter if the driver has a valid driving licence and insurance — driving on a bridleway is still illegal.

What to do if you meet illegal traffic 

Firstly, your horse and your own safety should come first.

Don’t do anything that would put you or your horse in danger — and I would not recommend challenging the driver.

If you feel threatened, phone the police using 999 and report the driver as soon as possible.

If it’s safe to do so, take a photo of the off-road vehicle or try to make a note (mental or written) of:

  • The make, model and colour of the off-road vehicle
  • The registration number (if there is one) and any distinguishing features
  • The approximate time and location of the incident
  • A description of the driver and what they were wearing

As soon as it’s safe to do so, contact your local police station (ring 101) to report the incident.

If the driver on a bridleway is caught in the act by police and warned to stop their antisocial conduct and they don’t, then their vehicle can be seized by the police.

Drivers are liable to be prosecuted for driving vehicles dangerously or carelessly on a bridleway or road, and may be fined

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