Legal Framework

Strategy behind the Standard

This standard has been developed to ensure that all schemes will adhere to the law, helping to make Essex Highways as legally sound as possible.

Best Practice Guidance to be used by Essex Highways.

The Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984

The Town and Country Planning Act 1990

The Cycle Tracks Act 1984

The Highways Act 1980

ECC Recommendations

The Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984

General provisions

This act covers traffic regulation orders, parking place orders (including the provision of stands and racks for bicycles), compulsory purchase powers and traffic signs. Section 122 imposes a duty upon local authorities to secure the expeditious, convenient and safe movement of vehicular and other traffic, and the provision of suitable and adequate parking facilities on and off the highway.

Traffic regulation orders

Section 1 of the act allows local authorities to make traffic regulation orders which include prohibiting any class or classes of traffic from streets, or parts of streets, either generally or at specific times. Section 9 allows local authorities to make experimental traffic regulations orders. Such experimental orders are limited to a maximum period of 18 months.

Parking places

Part IV of the act enables local authorities to provide off-street parking places for vehicles, and by order to authorise the use of any part of a road as a parking place. These powers are extended by Section 63 of the act to enable local authorities to provide, in roads or elsewhere, stands and racks for bicycles. Stands and racks for bicycles can be provided by the county council; district/borough councils and parish councils but subject always to the consent of the highway authority if in the highway, and consent of the landowner if elsewhere (Sections 57 and 63). This is an enabling power and is subject to all other necessary consents.

Traffic signs

Sections 64 and 65 of the act contain general provisions regarding traffic signs, including traffic signals and tactile markings. Traffic signs should comply with the current Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 (SI 3113) or be specially authorised by the secretary of state.

Bollards and other obstructions

Section 92 gives the highway authority powers to erect bollards and other obstructions, to give effect to a traffic regulation order made under either Section 1, 6 or 9 of this act.

The Town and Country Planning Act 1990

General provisions

This act provides powers for local planning authorities, including the preparation of structure and local plans, and planning permissions.

Stopping up

Section 247 gives the secretary of state powers to stop-up highways for the purposes of development.

Extinguishment of vehicular rights

Section 249 covers orders to extinguish vehicular rights (with or without exception), made by the secretary of state.

Section 106 agreements

Section 106 agreements – if an existing footpath is to be converted to a cycle track, the appropriate provisions in The Cycle Tracks Act should be used. It is not acceptable to rely on the owner of the surrounding land dedicating land without the proper opportunity for objection by the local residents with respect to the conversion of the footpath.

The Highways Act 1980

General provisions

The Highways Act 1980 provides powers to local highway authorities, and to the secretary of state as a highway authority. These cover provision of new highways, powers of maintenance and protection of public rights on highways, etc. (Note: These are therefore footpaths and require conversion under the cycle tracks act)

Cycle tracks

Section 24(2) enables a highway authority to provide a cycle track as a highway.

Section 65(1) gives a highway authority power to construct a cycle track as part of a highway maintainable at public expense, which includes a made-up carriageway and the lighting of the cycle track. As can be seen from the definition of a cycle track, there is a need to positively decide whether or not the newly constructed cycle track should be available for use on foot. This will need to be evidenced in highway records.

Section 65(2) empowers a highway authority to alter or remove a cycle track provided under subsection (1). Section 329(1) defines a cycle track as a way comprised in or constituting a highway with a right of way for pedal cycles with, or without, a right of way of foot.


Section 66 places a duty on a highway authority to provide a proper and sufficient footway as part of a highway (including a carriageway), maintainable at public expense when they consider such provision to be necessary or desirable for the safety or accommodation of pedestrians. It also empowers a highway authority to alter or remove a footway. Section 75 allows an authority to vary the relative widths of a carriageway and of any footway.

Guard rails

Section 66(2) provides for the undertaking of specified works on a highway maintainable at public expense, which consists of or comprises a carriageway, for the purpose of safeguarding persons using the highway.

Section 66(3) provides for the undertaking of specified works, on a footpath, for the purpose of safeguarding persons using the footpath.

Subways and footbridges

Section 69(1) provides for the construction of subways for the use of pedestrians to cross a highway including a carriageway.

Any subway can be altered, removed or temporarily closed. Section 70(1) gives power to construct, maintain and light pedestrian bridges across highways. Any footbridge can be altered, removed or temporarily removed. This provision applies where part of the bridge falls outside the limits of the highway. Land acquisition powers are also available.


Section 97 empowers a local highway authority to provide lighting on any highway for which it is the highway authority.

Land acquisition

Part XII contains powers for the acquisition, vesting and transfer of land required for highway purposes. Land for a cycle track can be acquired under the general power to acquire land for highway construction, improvement etc (Section 239). Land can be dedicated by a landowner under general powers (Sections 38 and 72). If a footpath needs to be widened prior to being converted into a cycle track under The Cycle Tracks Act 1984, and there is a willing landowner, then the powers to widen highways (Section 72 ) and to create footpaths (Section 25) can be used.


Section 116 provides magistrates courts with a power to authorise the stopping up or diversion of a highway.


Cycle tracks are excluded from the types of highway in which amenities may be provided (Part VIIA ).

The Cycle Tracks Act 1984


Section 1 removed the right of mopeds to use existing or future cycle tracks.

Motor vehicles

Section 2 makes it an offence, with specified defences, to drive or park a motor vehicle (including a moped) on a cycle track.

Conversion of footpaths into cycle tracks

Section 3 provides a procedure under which all or part of a footpath can be converted to a cycle track under an order made by the highway authority and confirmed by them if unopposed. If the order is opposed, confirmation by the secretary of state is required.

Where any footpath or part of a footpath crosses agricultural land the highway authority may not make an order unless every person having a legal interest in the land has consented in writing to the making of the order.


Section 4(1) empowers authorities to provide and maintain barriers on any cycle track.

Section 4(2) empowers authorities, where a cycle track is adjacent to a footpath or footway, to provide and maintain such works as they consider necessary to separate, in the interests of safety, cycle track users from those using the footpath or footway. Section 4(3) empowers authorities to alter or remove any works provided under subsection (1) or (2).

Other legal considerations and general advice

Sweeping of cycle tracks

Street cleaning of cycle tracks is carried out by the district and/or borough council (Section 89 of The Environmental Protection Act 1990).

Providing cycle facilities in parks

The status of footpaths in certain parks, and the ability to convert them to cycle use, may be determined by local or private acts of Parliament. Local park bylaws may also be

applicable. Each situation should therefore be examined individually to establish its appropriate legal status.

How the Standard should be applied

The standard above needs to be applied, otherwise the company will be legally liable for any incidents which will happen along this section of Cycle Design.

Maintenance Guidelines