Off-roaders urged: check routes first

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The Mendip Byways & Bridleways Association is urging off-road motorcyclists to take caution when planning their routes, after they say there has been an increase in people riding where they’re not legally allowed to.

Off-road motorcycling, or ‘green laning’ as it’s often known, is perfectly legal as long as you stick to the correct routes, which are legally no different to paved roads. The vast majority of the green road network is made up of byways, however there are two types of byway, which is where much of the confusion lines.

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Motorcyclists are free to use Byways Open to All Traffic (BOATs) but not Restricted Byways, which are in essence bridleways. However, on an Ordnance Survey (OS) map, they appear similar.

Byway map check

“The majority of bike riders are hugely considerate and this is greatly appreciated,” says Ginnie Jones, Secretary of the MBBA. “However a few make life difficult when we meet and this may simply be through lack of information.

“MBBA is working with Somerset County Council to clearly sign all Restricted Byways but in the meantime we would like to remind people to check the status of a route before riding.”

It’s also worth noting that some BOATs have temporary restrictions placed on them (for earth works, for example) which aren’t reflected on OS maps. Many councils have interactive maps that provide clarification but if you’re unsure, local Trail Riders’ Fellowship groups are an excellent source of information for members.