Welcome to the Highways Service Information Centre
Byways comprise just 3.8% of our public rights of way network and are open to all types of user: pedestrian, horse rider, cyclist, carriage driver and motorist. You must be aware that if you use these routes in any capacity, you are likely to come across these other users who have a legitimate right to be there. Please respect their use of these byways even if it is different to yours, by being courteous and be prepared to slow down or give way or stop if necessary.
There is often a public perception that a great deal of damage is caused by motorised vehicles and there is always pressure on Highway Authorities to close byways to vehicular users. However our duty as the highway authority does not allow us to close routes without suitable justification. Essex County Council makes every effort to resolve problems including those of surfacing without having to resort to closure, which should only be used when all other measures have failed. Byways cannot be restricted simply because people do not ‘like’ motorised use of the countryside or that they have become a location for antisocial or nuisance behaviour. They are part of the public highway network even if they don’t look exactly like a road!
Byways are governed by Highways legislation and as such a driver using a byway must adhere to the same laws as if they were on a road.
Before using your vehicle on a byway you must ensure it is:
Failure to comply with this may result in Police prosecution.
If you decide to leave the byway and ride or drive where you do not have any rights or permission from a landowner, you might be committing a criminal offence.
You may come across signs showing ‘no motorised traffic’ restricting access to motorised vehicles on some routes. These will be there for a valid reason, either maintenance or possibly protection of flora or fauna.
These maybe temporary, seasonal or possibly permanent. Do not ignore these signs. Please see our list of Long Term TROs on Byways.
Our byways generally have a natural surface which is more vulnerable to damage during periods of wet weather. Essex County Council request that users voluntarily restrain from using the byways when use could damage the way. This is an informal measure which is supported by LARA (Land Access Recreation Association) to help alleviate specific problems on particular routes. The system should always be supported or upheld by users whether or not they are in recognised clubs.
This code of practice has been drawn from various sources and in conjunction with various user groups.
Below is a searchable / filterable list of long term Traffic Regulation Orders on byways
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