The 'Tread Lightly' motto is the slogan that goes with the following set of guidelines for off road driving. Formulated by general consensus over the years by accord between the various clubs and organisations interested in the pursuit, they are frequently published as guidance for how we should use the 'lanes.
They are not a fixed prescription of hard and fast rules; the Road Traffic Act provides those; they are basic common sense, consideration and courtesy in our conduct.
They are not a substitute for your own discretion, judgement or common sense; and they cant possibly cover every possible eventuality you might encounter.
Ultimately, the watch word is 'Tread Lightly'; let your passage create as little impact as possible; don't do anything that would damage the lanes or our ability to use them.
And, it is heartening that the 'code' as we know it here in the UK is promulgating around the world, and similar codes of conduct, often with the same cathism, 'tread lightly' are being promoted around the world.
- Use only rights of way with known, proven, provable vehicular rights. If challenged, discuss the problem, if you can't resolve anything, then leave, until status is rechecked.
- Keep to the defined track. Detour only to pass obstructions. Report any obstructions , low branches, large stones, tied gates, tracks that have been dug up, etc etc to the highway authority RoW (rights of way)
- Be cautious of your own abilities and equipment when assessing an obstruction; it is your right to abate a non-lawful obstruction, do not commit yourself to a bigger task than you are equipped for.
- If the route is not obvious on the ground, ask locally, or check on the maps held at the highway authority offices or consult the local RoW Representative or RoW Contact.
- Drive at a quiet and unobtrusive pace and as slowly as practicable; I would recommend a maximum of 12 mph when in a 4x4 and on an Unsurfaced Right of Way (URoW).
- Ensure your vehicle is fully road-legal; URoW are subject to the same laws as surfaced roads.
- When travelling in groups, keep to a small number - ideally four or less. Split larger parties up and either use a different route or allow a good interval to elapse before following.
- Do not travel on URoW when they risk being affected beyond a point of natural recovery once the weather improves. If need be, walk some or all of the route first to determine its suitability.
- Do not use URoW which maybe damaged by the wheel pressure applied by your vehicle.
- Avoid damage to trees, hedgerows and boundaries. Some roads carry vehicular rights but are physically too narrow for 4x4s.
- Be courteous to other road users - pull over and stop your vehicle for walkers, but pull over, stop your vehicle and switch off the engine for passing horses; the same courtesy should also be shown to walkers with dogs, if the dogs show the least sign of nervousness round vehicles. Thank those who move over for you.
- Best practice is that gates if they were found to be secured in an open position should be left open, and those which are found shut or swinging should be shut behind you; the landowner might appreciate being told about a gate insecurely propped open if you see them.
- Keep dogs and children under close control. Watch out for injured or trapped animals, and report all suspicious events to the landowner.
- Guard against all risks of fire. Take litter home and that left by others if you see it, wherever practicable. Plastic bags can suffocate stock . Help to keep all water clean.
- Remember that wildlife faces many threats and UROW are valuable habitats.
- Take special care in spring and early summer Follow the Country Code, but be aware that it is for your guidance only
And adding to that; green lanes are public roads; the joy of green laning is the 'long trail' the exploration of more inaccessible bits of our country side.
The spirit of green laning is one of adventure; not thrill seeking.
Green-Lanes, just like tarmac roads are not playgrounds or race tracks; and testing your limits on the lanes is just as irresponsible as boy racers tearing about recklessly on hard topped roads.
If you want to test your vehicles capabilities and find out how 'extreme' you can get in your off roading; go do it at a pay and play, Tyro or CCVT.