HL Deb 02 July 1968 vol 294 cc278-80

[Nos. 5 and 6] After Clause 26, insert the following new clause

Riding of pedal bicycles on bridleways

".—(1) Any member of the public shall have, as a right of way, the right to ride a bicycle, not being a motor vehicle, on any bridleway, but in exercising that right cyclists shall give way to pedestrians and persons on horseback.

(2) Subsection (1) above has effect subject to any orders made by a local authority, and to any byelaws.

(3) The rights conferred by this section shall not affect the obligations of the highway authority, or of any other person, as respects the maintenance of the bridleway, and this section shall not create any obligation to do anything to facilitate the use of the bridle-way by cyclists.

(4) Subsection (1) above shall not affect any definition of "bridleway" in this or any other Act.

(5) In this and the next following section "motor vehicle" has the same meaning as in the Road Traffic Act 1960.

(6) It is hereby declared that sections 9, 10, 11 and 13 of the said Act of 1960 (offences connected with riding of bicycles) apply to bridleways as being highways which are "roads" within the meaning of that Act.

(7) Section 12(1) of the said Act (prohibition of cycle racing on highways) shall have effect as if the expression public highway "included a bridleway, but without the exception for a race or trial authorised by regulations under that section."

The Commons agreed to this Amendment, hut proposed the following Amendment thereto:

In subsection (5), line 1, leave out ("and the next following")


My Lords, I beg to move that the House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 6 to the Lords Amendment No. 5. This is the question of the wheeling of pedal bicycles on footpaths. The way it comes back to us from the Commons, after a great deal of to-ing and fro-ing, is based upon the recognition of the fact that if you go on footpaths there is nothing to prevent you from wheeling a bicycle or pushing a pram, or taking anything along with you that you may normally take anywhere. In the words of the House of Commons, there is not a reason for any special detailed provisions on this matter which has exercised both Houses for so long.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendment (No. 6) to the Lords Amendment (No. 5). —(Lord Kennet.)


My Lords, I do not blame the noble Lord at all for having found it so confusing to move the right Motion and I trust, in the light of what he has said, that we can also allow the short debate to roll forward on to Amendment No. 7, for which Amendment No. 6 is a paving Amendment.

The substance here, of course, is in Amendment No. 7. There appears to be a difference of opinion as to whether cyclists have a legal right to wheel their cycles on a footpath, and I was endeavouring to remove that legal doubt when I suggested to your Lordships that we should insert this new clause. This all goes back, like so much else in this whole field, to the Hobhouse Report of 1947 on Footpaths and Access to the Countryside. What that Report said was that there is no legal right for cyclists, either mounted or dismounted, to use footpaths. That Committee went on to recommend that wheeling a bicycle, dismounted, on a footpath shall not be illegal in the absence of a by-law to the contrary.

What your Lordships were seeking to do was to implement in legislation that recommendation of the Hobhouse Committee made 21 years ago. However, the Government will have nothing of it, and so the law will remain unamended; the legal doubt will persist, and cyclists will still be seen carrying their machines along footpaths because of a fear that, if they wheel the machine, they may be stopped and prevented from using that path.