Byways open to all traffic

Byways Open to All Traffic (BOATs) can be used by walkers, cyclists, horse riders, horse-drawn vehicles, motorbikes, quad bikes, 4x4s and other cars.

BOATs are sometimes called ‘green lanes’ – although this term has no legal standing. In East Sussex, BOAT's make up around 2% of the rights of way network.

Managing byways

Many BOATs have a natural or unsealed surface. This means that they can be prone to damage during wet weather.

To help protect vulnerable BOAT surfaces, East Sussex County Council may ‘seasonally close’ a byway to 4-wheeled and other vehicles during the winter months. For more information, see our seasonal byway restrictions list

Our use of seasonal closures, and other byway management approaches, is defined in our Byway Management Policy [1.3 MB] [pdf]

If you experience any problems when using a byway, please contact the Rights of Way Team.

Fly-tipping, abandoned vehicles and litter problems should be reported to the relevant district council.

Please report any illegal or irresponsible off-road vehicle activity to Sussex Police.

East Sussex County Council has worked with byway users and the East Sussex Local Access Forum to produce a code of conduct to help byway users:

  • Share BOAT's with walkers, horse riders and cyclists

  • Be more aware of problems they may encounter

  • Reduce their impact on byways

Code of Conduct

  • Give way to other users. Pull over, stop and switch off your engine for horses.

  • Only use your vehicle on paths that you have a legal right to drive on.

  • Keep to the defined path. If you come to an obstruction, turn back and do not deviate from the path. Report any obstructions to the Rights of Way Team.

  • Travel at a safe and unobtrusive speed. Drive at a speed which allows an immediate stop.

  • Reduce your speed further and keep engine revs to a minimum when passing livestock and animals.

  • Be road-legal. If you can’t drive your vehicle legally on a road, it can’t be used on a byway.

  • Watch out for wildlife. Public rights of way are a valuable habitat for flora and fauna – especially during the spring and summer.

  • Don’t travel on byways which are at risk of being damaged. Many byways are vulnerable to damage from vehicles – especially in severe weather conditions.

  • Don’t practice vehicle recovery techniques (for example, winching) on public rights of way.

  • Follow The Countryside Code - GOV.UK

  • Be prepared. Take a mobile phone, water, spare food and a first-aid kit for emergencies.

  • Don’t travel alone. Byways can be in very isolated countryside – travelling alone should be avoided.

  • Don’t drive in streams or rivers unless there is a right of way across them. Be aware of strong currents when using fords.

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