consultation document just issued by DEFRA (the Department
for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) looks set to change the
face of recreational motorcycling forever warns the British Motorcyclists
The document, the 'Use of mechanically propelled vehicles on Rights
of Way' is a follow-on from the Countryside and Rights of Way Act
2000 - the Act that introduced the 'right to roam' across thousands
of square miles of private land. If the consultation proposals go
ahead, it will end 100 years of use of our ancient road network
by motorised vehicles say the BMF, and could even restrict the use
of unclassified metalled roads.
Working in conjunction with the Land Access and Recreation Association
(LARA) and the Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF), the BMF will be lobbying
hard against the proposals to restrict the use of 'green lanes'
put forward last week by the Countryside Minister, the Rt Hon Alun
Commenting, the BMF's Environmental specialist Richard Olliffe
said: "While we accept that illegal motoring in all its forms
is a very real problem, this is a classic case of proposing changes
that will hit the law-abiding more than it does the offender"
For LARA, chairman Bill Troughear said: "There is a very real
danger that motorcyclists and drivers will lose access to minor
tarmac and stone-surfaced roads, thus closing down access to large
areas of the countryside."
None of the represented organisations condone irresponsible and
aggressive riding on these ancient right of way. "Our ancient
highways are not motocross or enduro practice tracks", said
Richard, "they are public roads. If people want true 'off-road'
riding, then they should enter competition events."
The closing date for responses is 19 March 2004. Copies of the
consultation paper can be found on http://www.defra.gov.uk/
web site and a full background-briefing document is available on
Note: In England and Wales there are around 120,000
miles of footpaths and bridleways where motorists cannot go, as
against around 6,000 miles of minor, unsealed vehicular roads where
they are shared with walkers. Walkers will also soon have thousands
of square miles of open access countryside as well plus access to
Forestry Commission plantations.