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Legal Green Lanes in the UK: Will I get fined?

Many people are confused as to which green lanes are legal and which are illegal. After all, we don’t want to get motorcycle fines.

Given that the United Kingdom has its fair share of rules and restrictions, it’s no wonder that many beginners and experienced ADV riders look for green lanes.

After all, they are a passport to freedom on a Sunday afternoon. A chance to leave behind the troubles of modern-day suburbs, office politics and family dramas.

But could you still receive a ticket on your adventure bike? Maybe.

Legal Green Lanes in the UK

Laws surrounding green lane usage are complex for the inexperienced and simple for those who have been riding such out-of-the-way trails for years.

Generally, it’s best to check an Ordnance Survey Map for roads which are shown as a byway and open to all traffic. This is the symbol you’ll see:

Legal Green Lanes in the UK

A restricted byway is a trail where no vehicle with a motor can go on it. While obviously this excludes all types of motorcycles, this often includes electric mountain bikes too.

While there might be temptation to take a shortcut, refer to your maps to find a longer route. After all, we’re adventure riders. It’s about the journey, not making the quickest lap times.

Temporarily closed green lanes

Many green lanes you’ll find are closed in the winter months due to excessive rain. By closing them, they reduce the amount of track damaged caused by adventure riders and weekend riders with dirt bikes.

The best way to check the status of a closed green lane is via Trailways. This database is routinely updated by the community by the Green Lane Association Limited, a not-for-profit whose aim is to help preserve unsurfaced roads for all trail users including 4x4s, dirt bikes, adventure riders and mountain bikes.

Totally forbidden routes

It’s very much forbidden for you to travel via bridleways and footpaths. However, the police in rural areas often have limited reach. There are bigger problems in the city and local towns after all.

While it is an offence under Section 34 of the Road Traffic Act UK, it’s actually not one that can be endorsed. The police can seize your motorcycle if you repeatedly do the wrong thing, but this happens rarely.

Fines for green lanes

So the question still remains: Will you get fined if you use a green lane?

While you could be fined for up to £1,000 for illegal green lane usage, this rarely happens. The police have very little presence in rural areas across the UK.

Now, while your chances of actually being persecuted are slim, don’t underestimate the power of country folk. While many are humble, understanding and reasonable people, they are never pleased to see ruined green lanes due to excessive rear wheel spin.

Angry farmers with a firearm could easily ruin your afternoon ride in the countryside, so do your best to stick to well-established routes. If unsure, don’t take that route!

Riding responsibly on green routes

Instead of ripping up a trail like you might on an MX track, instead take a conservative approach. There is nothing wrong with cruising along at 30kms per hour on a green lane.

If you’re coming around a bend, slow down considerably. There might be pedestrians and horses on the other side which you haven’t yet seen.

Look out for wildlife such as foxes as well as livestock that might have escaped. Running into a 300kg fully grown bull is a sure-fire way to ruin your afternoon fun, even at low speeds.

In summary

You certainly can ride on green routes, but ensure you pay close attention to both Ordnance Surveys and road signs. Often road signs are more reliable than maps, even the digital type.

Be respectful of other road users and local residents. Often they have to use such routes to carry out their livelihood.

If you’re new to green lane riding, then riding with a group of experienced riders is often the best choice.

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