One of the two roads going into my village has been closed for nine days with a big red notice saying ‘road closed’ despite me never actually seeing anyone working on the road.

There is a recurrent problem with a burst water main. I have nipped past the road closed sign on my bike with absolutely no problem. I was riding at about 20mph, because the last thing I want to do is hit some bloke working on a watermain.

Now a busybody has put a picture of me on the village Facebook page and has told the entire village that I was breaking the law and has reported me to the police. Have I actually committed an offence?


Have you committed an offence? Probably, but not definitely. If I put up a ‘road closed’ sign on the highway, you can ride past it because I have no power to put up a road sign prohibiting anything. So, the homemade signs we sometimes see put up on green lanes can safely be ignored.

It is very likely that the water company has a road closure order made under the 1984 Road Traffic Regulation Act which, if made by the local highway authority, is lawful and binding. If the sign meets the rules set out for road signage (and they almost always do), and it is authorised by the highways authority, then failure to comply with the sign is an offence (under section 36 of the 1988 Road Traffic Act). The offence is a three-point endorsement on your licence.

However, if you want to get into the weeds (not that this Facebook post and photo is likely to result in a prosecution), section 36(2) of the Act says that the sign must show the statutory provision by which it was placed on the road. This means there must be a lawful road closure order. You are entitled to ask the prosecution for proof of this lawful power, but this is not difficult for them to prove.

The offence is covered in Schedule 1 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act which means that, in order to be prosecuted, the registered keeper of the vehicle involved must be written to within 14 days by the police. If 14 days have expired, you are in the clear. If the police get involved (which is unlikely) a discretionary ban is available for failure to comply with a road sign.

However, keep in mind that driving through road closed signs can have devastating consequences for road workers. I’m not without a touch of sympathy for your careful riding through a pointless road closure, but I’m also aware of the fact that people bringing water to your village are entitled to work safely and without dodging traffic.

Andrew Dalton

Adventure Bike Rider March/April 2023