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Off road motorcycles - the law and reporting incidents

Advice for riders and parents

Using your off-road bike safely

There are lots of opportunities for safe and legal off-road motorcycling in Lancashire. The misuse of these machines can be dangerous and illegal. If you drive your trial bike, mini-moto, quad bike or similar off-road vehicle on the road it must have the following:

  • a valid MOT certificate if more than three years old
  • a full car licence or a category B1 licence if it was issued before January 1997
  • A minimum of third party insurance to drive a quad bike on the road
  • Registered with the DVLA, taxed, with front and rear number plates for a quad bike

Only vehicles that meet the required standards and are registered with the DVLA can be used on roads, pavements and car parks. There are no exemptions for vehicles designed for off-road use or for young people.

Trail riding

Trail riding is not ‘off-roading’. Unsurfaced unclassified roads (often know as green roads or green lanes) and byways open to all traffic are roads, so you must have a driving licence and insurance, and your vehicle must be taxed and registered. Trail riding and ‘green laning’ have the same requirements as riding on a tarmacked road.

It is illegal to ride a motorbike or drive any vehicle on a public footpath, public bridleway, restricted byway or on open access and common land. Illegal riding can seriously damage the future of motorsport and recreational access in the countryside.

If you don’t know how to find legal routes, it is best to join a specialist motorcycle club. The largest national body dedicated to riding on unsurfaced roads is the Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF), who have local groups across England and Wales.

If you only drive your vehicle off road, on private land, you do not require a driving licence, and you do not have to tax and register your quad bike. We recommend you record it on a off-road register which could help us find it if it’s stolen.

Advice for parents

You are responsible for your child and their actions if you buy an off-road motorbike or quad bike for them.

If a young person rides a bike on a road or on public land it is a legal requirement that they have insurance. You may be prosecuted for permitting your child to ride on a road or public place and this will affect your own car or bike insurance.

When buying your child a quad bike or motorbike:

  • think carefully before buying a machine
  • consider your personal responsibilities as you can be prosecuted if you are irresponsible
  • look into joining an organised motorbike group
  • always get personal permission from the owner of private land
  • contact the council for a list of areas which you can ride on