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What are public rights of way, who can use them and how they are managed.

First published:
23 April 2019
Last updated:

What are public rights of way

Public rights of way include:

  • footpaths
  • bridleways
  • restricted byways
  • byways open to all traffic

Who can use them

Public rights of way can be used by any member of the public, including:

  • walkers/pedestrians
  • cyclists
  • horse riders
  • carriage drivers
  • motor vehicle users

But, the rules and procedures covering the 20,500 miles (33,000 km) of public rights of way are complex. Information about the use of public rights of way is available at

Managing public rights of way

Local authorities have primary responsibility for public rights of way in their areas. Their key duties include:

  • maintenance
  • preventing obstruction
  • maintaining a legal record of rights of way

If you have any concerns or queries about a public right of way, contact the relevant local authority.