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Thread: Off Road Access with a Motor Vehicle

  1. #1

    Join Date
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    Exclamation Off Road Access with a Motor Vehicle

    Whilst I'm aware we have many responsible members who actively use Motor Vehicles to access caches along Off Road Routes. Would all persons intending to do so please insure that they have access to up to date maps and legal status of the route they intend to take. And make sure that they understand the legal status of all routes they intend to use.

    Reason behind the request is that I have received a complaint regarding someone accessing a cache situated on a Restricted Byway using a Motor Vehicle. A route along which the usage of such vehicles is prohibited. It would appear that the person involved was using out of date access information [map]. This access has been brought to the attention of the local CC, who are looking into the issue.

    Please note I am not out to castigate anyone, and would request that no mention of the cache or person involved is mentioned [any mention will result in a request to the poster and Forum Moderators to delete the post, there is a very justified reason for this]. Rather this is a attempt to bring the issue to the attention of the community, hopefully allowing the experienced 4x4 Off Roaders somewhere to educate the rest of the community regarding legal and responsible access off road using Motor Vehicles.

    Deceangi
    My post is my personal opinion and as such you do not have my permission to quote me outside of these forums!

    Dave
    Brenin Tegeingl
    Formerly known as Mancunian Pyrocacher on GC

  2. #2

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    Default

    As Deci has said, this incident seems to have arisen due to use of an out of date map.

    The status of many off-road tracks seems to have changed in recent years. Can any regular off-roaders advise about avoiding similar situations in the future?

    Also, if you own a cache which is on an off-road track which could be used by motor vehicles, or is likely to be visited by people who might drive on such a track nearby, you might want to check with your local rights of way authority whether or not use of motor vehicles is permitted there, and put a notice on the cache page if it isn't.
    ​​Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (Dylan Thomas)​


  3. #3

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    Default

    Many legal green lanes are now have TRO's (traffic restriction orders) and some have specific open dates. I offroad a fair bit but always try to make sure that its legal it will soon be illegal to drive "roads" that have been in use for hundreds of years

  4. #4

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    Default

    Surely the complaint should have been ignored by Groundspeak, as it's nothing to do with their geocaching site, and merely passed on to the GAGB so that the cache owner can be advised (with a view to making the access situation clear)?

    It sounds like the "offence" was to drive down a lane which was believed to be legal (mistakenly, as it turns out), but was RECENTLY made out of bounds to traffic. The key point is whether there was prominent signage; it would be unreasonable to expect everyone to carry up-to-date access information with them at all times, when these things are so frequently changed. If the prominent signs were ignored, then the complaint should be considered by the responsible (CC) official and action taken as seen fit. But no signs, no case.

    The fact that the motive was to log a geocache is irrelevant. If they'd been going for a picnic having spotted a likely area on the map, you'd hardly expect the map makers to pay attention to a complaint about people using the road.

  5. #5

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    Default

    Unfortuantly, most (if not all) cash strapped councils will restrict access to byways instead of maintaining them.

    I will only go 'green laning' if the routes have been properly researched and checked against the definitive map. OS maps can no longer be relied on for access rights to byways.

    TomTom has unpaved roads in it's database, but I do not know if any of them are restricted.

    As a repsonsible offroader, I belong to clubs which follow the 'Tread Lightly' code of practice. I also prefer to have my fun on specialised offroad sites.

    As a cacher, I prefer to park up and walk, so I can get some exercise and fresh air.

    Ivan
    Paved Roads: Another fine example of unnecessary Government spending!

  6. #6

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    Default

    Lol at being expected to throw all my old OS maps away to buy new ones,update tom tom, autoroute and memory map every so often.
    "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to serve as a horrible warning."

  7. #7

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    Exclamation

    Quote Originally Posted by markandlynn View Post
    Lol at being expected to throw all my old OS maps away to buy new ones,update tom tom, autoroute and memory map every so often.
    No your not expected to bin your maps Tom Tom and Memory Map every so often to keep up to date.

    But a couple of points need to be made clear. If your intending to travel down any byway in a Motor Vehicle, you can not rely on the status of that Byway being correctly shown on the map. OS Maps are not Definitive Maps and as such can not be relied on to show the correct status.

    As for signage at the start of a Restricted Byway

    bellow is a direct quote from someone involved in the issue which caused this topic to be posted.

    It is interesting to see the postings on the websites which already contains very positive messages coming from those responsible off road vehicular users. Just a quick point on signage, vandalism to Restricted Byway signage is a regular occurrence. If signage is not present due to vandalism (as in this case), this does not make driving the route legal.
    The situation is currently on going, once resolved the person involved will maybe make a post to explain the whole situation he/she has found him/herself in through a genuine mistake.

    Deci
    My post is my personal opinion and as such you do not have my permission to quote me outside of these forums!

    Dave
    Brenin Tegeingl
    Formerly known as Mancunian Pyrocacher on GC

  8. #8

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    Default

    INAL, but I wouldn't expect any successful prosecution of someone who drives down a lane marked as a public road on a fairly recent map (say, up to 10 years old), which has been recently restricted, but where there are no signs (even if the signs were taken down illegally).

    In my experience, the law is not applied to the letter, it's based on whether it's reasonable behaviour. So although it may not be strictly legal to drive down the lane it may not be seen as an offence that can lead to prosecution.

    It's not reasonable to expect someone to perform extra checks about whether a lane is open to vehicles when they possess official information that it IS likely to be open, and where the only way to be certain is extremely inconvenient and onerous.

    What if the people involved aren't 4WD enthusiasts, but do have a vehicle that can go off-tarmac? They may well have no idea where to check such matters, they may not have been planning to use this lane, and access to the Internet may not reasonably be expected at the entrance to the lane in question.

    I only take an interest because I'm not a 4WD enthusiast but do have a 4WD vehicle and have been known to use the occasional rough track. Have I ever checked the official access information beforehand? No. Would I turn back if an official sign prohibits access? Yes.

  9. #9

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    Default

    Missing signage hmm appears that missing signage is the councils problem as is a byway blocked by fly tippers and the width of the path and the surface and a few other things as well interesting read.

    http://www.buckscc.gov.uk/bcc/row/ri...ibilities.page
    "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to serve as a horrible warning."

  10. #10

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    Default

    Thanks.
    The county council is required to erect signposts at the each point where a path meets a public road and anywhere along the route where it may be unclear to members of the public. The signpost will always indicate the status of the path (Countryside Act 1968 section 27).
    This seems to infer that the County Council are at fault, should it be demonstrated in this case that the signs are missing. It's clearly not left to the public to check the status if there's no indication at the site. Which seems fair, considering that the CC will have the up-to-date info to hand and the public won't (not without considerable effort, anyway).

  11. #11

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    Sorry but even the very latest OS maps hot off the press, should not be considered to be accurate as far as the status of byways is concerned. There is no legal requirement on their part to have the status of every byway shown on any map they produce accurate at the time of printing.

    ~it might be useful to post this on the forum so as to demonstrate to those who may feel that an OS map or a route having no signage, removes the responsibility of the driver to check the legal status of routes.
    Whilst you might feel safe in the knowledge that if a OS map states that a route is legal to drive along. Responsible persons would differ over that opinion. The only way you can be certain that you have a legal right to drive down a byway is to check the Definitive Map. If a sign is missing, you have no way of knowing if it was vandalised just 5 minutes before you arrived at the start of the Byway, neither will the CC.

    Deci
    My post is my personal opinion and as such you do not have my permission to quote me outside of these forums!

    Dave
    Brenin Tegeingl
    Formerly known as Mancunian Pyrocacher on GC

  12. #12

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mancunian View Post
    Sorry but even the very latest OS maps hot off the press, should not be considered to be accurate as far as the status of byways is concerned. There is no legal requirement on their part to have the status of every byway shown on any map they produce accurate at the time of printing.

    Whilst you might feel safe in the knowledge that if a OS map states that a route is legal to drive along. Responsible persons would differ over that opinion. The only way you can be certain that you have a legal right to drive down a byway is to check the Definitive Map. If a sign is missing, you have no way of knowing if it was vandalised just 5 minutes before you arrived at the start of the Byway, neither will the CC.

    Deci
    Sorry Deci, I don't quite follow. I didn't say that it would be legal or that the OS map provides any guarantee. But it seems obvious that you can't be convicted of any offence if the sign is missing and you can show that you made a reasonable attempt to check the status of the lane using whatever material is commonly available (i.e. the OS Map).

    Clearly it's unreasonable to expect people to look at the definitive map, as it is likely to be inaccessible at the time (which is why the CC is responsible for maintaining the signs).

    So a reasonable check is to look at the OS map, then take note of any signs you encounter in case they contradict the map. But if the prohibition signs have been illegally removed then the CC is at fault, just like they are when your car runs into an obstruction in the road that they are responsible for removing. Even if it was only placed there two minutes earlier.
    To expect the casual visitor to seek out County Hall every time they decide on a whim to venture down an unpaved side road on a Sunday afternoon would be silly, and if it was proposed in court would get laughed out (I would hope, unless the whole world has gone mad! :wacko.

  13. #13
    messe Guest

    Default The Offender

    Thank you `Big D` for not disclosing my ID when this was first bought to your attention. This was done due to pending possible legal reasons. There are a coupe of points that i think all cachers,not just 4x4`s should know. THe map i was using was a downloaded OS map @8 hours old.So the is no need to throw away all your old ones...cos there not old. The track of the map showed it as being a BOAT (Byway Open to All Traffic).I was always under the impression the an OS map is the Bible and that what it showed was true and correct.I have since found out that this is not true.The Byway had been reclassified in 2006,no cars are allowed.This was not known to me.There was no signage to support this.But alas,being unknowledged is no case for defence it would seem?.How the everyday walker is supposed to know all about these missing details i do not know
    The Council in question has has a lot of 4x4s going where they like...tearing down signs, and so have had enough. In my case the CC seem to have seen that it was a mistake and no malice meant and are trying to get the police not to press ahead with a Prosection,but to deal with this with a `Section 59`...a warning that if seen or caught on a Byway not meant to be a prosecution will be forthcoming.This i can only hope will happen.
    They have seen that education (Through the GC site) is a far better way then to go around nicking everyone.With education,the ones like me learn the message,where as the ones that do not give a *,will do it anyway.I agree that 4x4`s do damage...but so does riding Horse Back,Moutain Biking and even Walking if in a very nature sensitive Area,but all are clearly marked as such...In my case it was the local farmer who told me i was not to be there,....after the event.I can only thank the farmer for trying to rescue me..even if to no avail.I was well and truely stuck.My freedom came after many hours of digging and using all the rubbish (Sheets of Corragated Iron) found in the bushes around me!.I always take my rubbish home and hate seeing it when in the countryside..but on this occassion i will let it be..Thank you litter louts for your contribution to our lovely countryside!.My advise if not sure..dont do it
    I do feel though that if paying to have a map,it should a least be accurite,so what i want to know is..Why do OS not update thier maps?..or do they?.Surely if you download a map it should be right up to date.
    I have just looked at two OS Maps of the same area...it has been updated...to show a Motorway!.Will let you all know what the final outcome is

  14. #14
    nobbynobbs Guest

    Default

    The thing to remember in all cases involving UK law is that ignorance never has been a defence. It may be taken into consideration that you ( and this is a generic you, not a personal reply to messe or anything) have attempted to establish the legality of what you are doing.

    At the end of the day it's known that council's are redesignating green lanes due to the amount of damage being caused ( again, I know this damage isn't solely due to 4x4 users. I'm just stating a fact) so it might be not unreasonable for you to check with the council prior to using one or just err on the side of caution and not use it.

    As regards why OS not up to date? They map the entire world. They have extremely detailed maps of the entire UK. Can you imagine the logistical nightmare of trying to keep on top of every single change of byeway status as well as all the new housing estates, roads, changes to rivers, landslides, construction......


    Hopefully something good has come of this incident in that people have been made aware of the pitfalls of relying on OS maps and the eer changing status of greenways has been highlighted.

  15. #15

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    Default

    After the matter was clarified in detail by the "miscreant" over on the "other" forum, it appears that my assumptions were correct and that they're unlikely to face legal action. It's also significant that (we're told) the missing signs were reinstated rather quickly after the incident.

    Although ignorance of the law is no defence, that's not being argued here. The cacher in question knew that green lanes are out of bounds if officially restricted, and checked using all reasonable means at his disposal (i.e. looked for signs which contradict the latest OS information). With no indication that the lane was restricted he proceeded along it, with the intention of continuing as far as the map showed was allowable.

    It has clearly been recognised that it's not feasible for everyone to check the latest definitive map (as held by the County Council). That's why the CC has a legal duty to maintain the signage. It follows that if the signs are not visible and they complain about someone using the lane illegally, the onus is on them to prove that the driver must have known about the restriction.

    Obvious parallel relevant to caching; often, public footpaths are re-routed for various reasons. But this can't be done by simply publishing a new definitive map in Council Offices and expecting ramblers to come round and check before setting forth. No doubt all of us have seen the notices advising of the footpath amendment order, which are posted at the site of the diversion. Then, the new route has to be fully signposted. Should the signposts be removed (who knows, maybe the farmer did it), the walker following a recent OS Map can hardly be blamed for following the route as defined on the map, even if the new official route is quite different.

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