Green lane (road)

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This article is about the type of road. For other meanings, see Green Lane.
A green lane in Grendon, Northamptonshire

A green lane is a type of road, usually an unpaved rural route.

England and Wales[edit]

See also: Byway (road)

In particular, a green lane is unsurfaced, and may be so infrequently used that there is no wearing of the surface, allowing vegetation to colonise freely, hence 'green'. Many green lanes are ancient routes that have existed for millennia such as hollow ways, drover's roads, ridgeways or even ancient trackways.

An overgrown green lane in Worcestershire.

Under modern public rights-of-way (PROW) law, the concept of a "green lane" doesn't exist. Instead, green lanes are classified as one of four different types of public right of way, listed below:

  • A footpath has pedestrian rights only.
  • A bridleway allows pedestrians, horse traffic and cyclists.
  • A byway open to all traffic (BOAT, or just 'byway') is open to all users and all types of traffic. However, due to their unsurfaced nature, they are often only passable in a 4x4 or on a trail motorbike.
  • A restricted byway (RB) allows pedestrians, horse traffic and vehicles other than mechanically propelled vehicles (e.g. bicycles, horse-drawn carriages). Restricted byways replaced the older road used as a public path (RUPP) classification.

An unclassified county road (UCR) route is not an official right of way classification, but legally the same as the ordinary tarmac road network.[citation needed] As such, are maintained and repaired at public expense by local highway authorities. UCRs are shown in a list required to be kept under section 36(6) of the Highways Act 1980 (c. 66) (list of highways maintainable at public expense). The surfaces of these routes can vary from broken tarmac and gravel to only grass, often having the appearance of byways. As these routes are maintained at public expense, along with the rest of the highway network, it is presumed that these routes are open to all traffic. They are not shown on the definitive map.

The Countryside Act 1968 required all highway authorities to reclassify RUPPs in their area – occasionally as footpaths but in practice generally as bridleways unless public vehicular rights were demonstrated to exist in which case it would become a byway open to all traffic. This process involved extensive research into historic usage and often public enquiries. Section 47 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 set a time limit of 2026 for every highway authority to complete the reclassification exercise. The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 (NERC) changed the deadline to the 2 May 2006.

This change is significant as RUPPs allowed motorised vehicular access, while RBs do not. This change resulted in significant conflict between user groups. Some highway authorities neglected to carry out their responsibilities under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. This has meant that some counties, e.g. Somerset, have extremely minimal rights of way available to motorised vehicles, while other more diligent counties, e.g. Kent and Wiltshire, have a considerably more extensive network still available to vehicular users. Its is calculated that before the CRoW Act approximately 5% of the national rights of way network was open to vehicular use, while post-CRoW this has halved to around 2 to 3%.

The various users of rights of way disagree (often passionately) about the other users' rights. Walker groups (such as the Ramblers' Association) advocate the removal of vehicular rights on BOATs. Cyclists and equestrians groups fear for their rights, while vehicular use of public rights of way is increasingly being seen as unacceptable and has been targeted for further restrictions. The rights of vehicle users are represented by the Green Lane Association,[1] also known as GLASS, and the Trail Riders Fellowship[2] who oppose these restrictions on the basis that a road is just that, regardless of the type of surface.

Jersey[edit]

Green Lane signage in Jersey

In Jersey, a Green Lane is a road designated as priority for pedestrians, cyclists and horse-riders to which a 15 mph speed limit applies. The first Green Lanes were introduced in St Peter in 1994. All parishes, except St Saviour and Trinity have since joined the Green Lane network, but since St Saviour and Trinity adjoin across the Island the Green Lanes in the West and in the East do not link up.[3]

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