When can I ride a motorbike on the pavement?

When can I ride a motorbike on the pavement?

I recently saw a video on social media of a scooterist riding along a pavement, and I was told that the rider wasn’t prosecuted. Is It ever actually legal to ride a motorcycle on the pavement? There must be some grey areas.

Answer

In the case you mention, for reasons which are not clear the prosecution for dangerous driving was abandoned. But It poses the question of when It’s OK to ride a motorcycle on a pavement and, more broadly, where can a motorcycle be ridden?

The law on riding motorbikes on pavements is clear: It is Illegal, with one exception. You may ride (or drive) a motor vehicle on the pavement for a maximum of 15 yards to get to a place of parking. The law does not actually define “a place of lawful parking”, simply that it is a place where you can park – but If you leave your motorcycle parked on the pavement you are committing another offence of obstruction of the highway. Either way, you’re nicked.

The difference is that the police will take an interest in you riding your motorcycle on the pavement, whereas they will not be particularly interested in you parking your motorcycle on the pavement unless you are creating an active obstruction to the highway, and even then they are unlikely to be especially Interested. The law is contained in Section 34 of the Road Traffic Act 1984.

The same rules apply if you ride a motorbike on a bridleway, public footpath or common land – again, these are all areas upon which motorised traffic does not usually pass.

A bridleway, however, is often on private land. This means the landowner can use his or her motorbike, quadbike or tractor on it, but you cannot ride your motorbike on it. So do not take the presence of motorised vehicles on a bridleway or a footpath as your own personal right to ride.

Can you push your motorbike on the pavement? Yes, but you need to be pushing it, not straddling and paddling it. If you straddle and paddle, the law has determined (in the way that only judges can) that you have ‘control’ of the machine and are therefore ‘riding’ it – but if you are to one side of it and pushing It you are not in control. So if you have to move an uninsured or otherwise non-street legal motorbike, push it but do not straddle It.

This is very old English common law, and may not be so interpreted following a European Court of Justice case which said, and I summarise, that if you are using a vehicle in any other place to which the public have access, and it causes harm, then the vehicle must be insured. However, so long as your journey is less than 15 yards or, you are pushing your motorcycle along, you will not be committing an offence.

Riding along the pavement with anything other than ostentatious care being displayed would carry the more serious charge of dangerous riding, because no reasonably careful driver or rider would place a motorised vehicle on a pavement, and the act is deliberate. People who would lawfully be using the pavement would be likely to be endangered merely by the presence of a motorised vehicle moving with any speed differential, as it would be wholly unexpected.

The law is clear: the more unusual your action, the higher your duty of care rises. So if you have an extraordinary reason to ride a motorbike more than 15 yards on the pavement and pushing is not a viable option, it would take very little to trip it into dangerous riding. Counter Intuitively, the lesser charges of driving without due care and attention or careless and inconsiderate driving would not be alternative offences – the offence is not a momentary lapse of concentration (it cannot be with a deliberate act), and if you were riding a motorbike inconsiderately on the pavement it would be an obvious endangerment to people who might also be using it.

So unless your motorbike has training wheels, is modelled on a superhero’s and you are under the age of seven, it’s probably best to limit your pavement motorcycle riding to less than 15 yards – and only to park your motorbike.

Andrew Dalton

RiDE Magazine – March 2017

Disclaimer: The legal advice and statements contained within this/these articles is correct at the time of printing. If you are seeking legal advice after a motorbike accident please contact us to speak directly with one of our lawyers.

Posted by Andrew Dalton. Last modified: July 23, 2018 at 10:46 am

Andrew Dalton is a highly experienced trial lawyer who delights in taking on difficult and demanding motorcycle cases. He has a tough and relentless litigation style and is utterly focused on getting the best possible outcomes for his clients.

Comments

  1. Michael MaloneDecember 1, 2018

    I believe that with chronic medical conditions you can ride further than that’s to park,i am waiting to be told what proof of illness my Lincoln city council requires i have progressive chronic lung decease i have a Yamaha 125 scooter i cannot walk any distance without getting dangerously breathless i ride up a drop curb over the width of the pavement then going under 5mphtravel about 30 yds to my front door i did find a site that told me what medical proof i would require but cannot remember which site it was

  2. RTA 1988 Section 34 states:
    Prohibition of driving mechanically propelled vehicles elsewhere than on roads.E+W
    (1)Subject to the provisions of this section, if without lawful authority a person drives a mechanically propelled vehicle—
    (a)on to or upon any common land, moorland or land of any other description, not being land forming part of a road, or
    (b)on any road being a footpath, bridleway or restricted byway,he is guilty of an offence.

    Surely a pavement by the side of the road IS “land forming part of a road” so surely this Law cannot be used for pavement riding? Any case law?

  3. Andrew DaltonFebruary 25, 2019

    Section 34 (3) gives a statutory exception so there is no case law on this point. The test is entirely factual. As to your use of the scooter on the pavement as a sort of adapted motorised wheelchair, I suspect that the council are prepared to turn a blind eye to you riding 30 yards if your doctor says it would assist you but they have no obligation to allow this. The statutory law is quite clear. 15 yards is the maximum you can ride from the road to a place of parking.

    RTA 1988 s34(3) It is not an offence under this section to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle on any land within fifteen yards of a road, being a road on which a motor vehicle may lawfully be driven, for the purpose only of parking the vehicle on that land.

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