What is Green Laning? | What to ride and what to prepare for

If you’ve wanted to ride some of the many rural green lanes that criss-cross the UK, there are a few things you should know before you get muddy

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GREEN LANES are literally just that, roads that are unmetalled or not covered with Tarmac or other hardened coverings. The term green is used as in many cases the low footfall of traffic will allow grass and other plants to grow on the surface.

Green laning on a motorcycle is a great way put some low-speed miles in, without spending loads of cash on far-flung trackdays or a high-powered sportsbike. As almost any bike – within reason – can tackle some of the less arduous lanes with ease. There are some fairly simple rules and some straightforward pieces of etiquette you should adhere to though.

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Do you need a road legal bike to go green laning?

Yes, riding anything on a green lane that is full road registered, insured, taxed and MoT’d is illegal. Likewise, the rules of the road still apply on a green lane. Naturally, the speed you’ll be riding at on a green lane will be lower than you would on a conventional road, but it’s worth keeping it in mind!

Is green laning the same as riding off-road?

References to green laning as off-roading are completely untrue. Green laning is riding on the road, it just so happens that the road you’re riding on has no hard, top surface. Straying off the green lane an onto a farmer’s field or into woodland is deemed as riding off-road and should be avoided at all costs. Think of leaving the lane to ride on a field like pulling onto someone’s front garden and riding around it – you wouldn’t do that, would you?

What is green laning?

Green laning is the act of riding unsealed public highways in cars or on motorbikes, i.e. roads without Tarmac, and is as legal as riding along any other public road. A road-legal vehicle is required, and all same laws apply to users. Driving is slower than on tarmacked roads due to the terrain.

What is off-roading?

Off roading can only take place on private land with permission, or at an organised event. Vehicles do not always have to be road legal, a charge is usually payable to join in, sometimes even a special driving licence (if the activity is motorsport related) and driving/riding are marshalled by on-site staff.

What should I do if I see someone misusing a green lane?

Take registration numbers and/or photographs (if it is safe to do so) and report the incident to the police on 101. Advise GLASS and the TRF of the incident. Both these groups campaign against irresponsible driving and can help to repair any damage caused by those who don’t abide by the rules.

Top tips for green laning:

Be legal

Byways and green lanes are public roads so you must be legal to use them. Don’t be the kind of rider that gives the rest of us a bad name!

Plan a route and stick to it

You can use OS maps, local council websites and/or an app/site like Viewranger. Failing that, get on some forums, contact the local Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF) or book a guided tour.

Bring a friend along

Riding off-road is never as much fun as hitting the trails with a mate. It also means of something does go wrong, there is an extra set of hands to help out.

Be polite

Green lanes could also be used by horse riders, hikers, dog walkers and nature enthusiasts – but maybe not the nude kind. As the lane is there for all, try and be polite. Slowing down to walking pace when passing people is good and switching off your bike to allow horse passed is the best thing to do.

Look up

It’s natural to stare at your front wheel when riding off-road, especially for less experienced riders. It’s not ideal though, and only allows you to see a tiny proportion of what is going on ahead of you. Keep your head and eyes up and look as far in front of you as you can.

Stand up

Sitting down may make you feel more secure, but it actually makes the bike’s centre of gravity higher than standing on the pegs does. Standing up also means you have a better view of the terrain ahead and you’ll find shifting your body weight around much easier!

Pack a bag

You may only be going out for a few hours but green laning burns a lot of calories. Pack some water, sandwiches and a load of chocolate. While you’re there stick in a decent first aid kit and a basic tool kit for the bike too.