Private Roads, Public Access

I have phoned several police departments in my area about cycling on private roads. They all pretty much said NO PROBLEM.  However, a friend of mine told me, the other day, that not only was cycling allowed, but so were cars.  So, I decided to see what I could find.  It appears that he  was correct.

This information took awhile to find.

The sites below seem to indicate that these roads are not really private to public access.  However, when I read more websites, conflicts seemed to arise, particularly about motor vehicles, on private roads.  So, even with these three sites stating one thing, others reflect slightly different views.  Most of the differences pertain to motor vehicles, not bicycles.

General Info, Identical at two sites:

http://www.answers.com/topic/private-road-1
http://law.jrank.org/pages/9421/Private-Roads.html

Private Road.. Excerpts from above sites.

A street or route that is designated by a public authority to accommodate a person or a group of people.

A private road is often established because an individual needs to gain access to land; such a road can cross another person’s property. A private road can be used by the general public and is open to all who wish to use it, but it primarily benefits those at whose request it was established. Unlike highways that are cared for by the public at large, private roads are maintained at the expense of the private individuals who requested the road.

The authority to establish a private road is derived from the power of EMINENT DOMAIN and exists only when expressly provided by a statute. The statute must be strictly followed, especially when the private road benefits only the requesting party.

Specific To Boston Area…but in reading same in other states, pretty  much the law of the land

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/02/10/private_ways_public_access/?page=2

Excerpts from website:

You wouldn’t believe how tough it was to get a straight answer on this.

Residents cannot put up a ‘No Trespassing’ sign at the front of a private way,” he said. “The public has the right to pass on it. People think of ‘private’ in the sense of something being exclusive. But it’s really private in that it has not been accepted as a public way, with public standards. It does not mean exclusivity. Being a way, it’s open for the public to pass.

Do the people along the private way have rights in the private way? Yes,” Rumley continued. “But those rights are subject to the right of the public to traverse the way. Some people will say to you that as abutters, we own to the middle of the way. When they say that, ask them to go to the assessors’ office and see if the additional footage into the middle of the street is on their tax bill. I can tell you: No, it isn’t. And do they want it included? No, they don’t.”

Police, in fact, can hardly enforce any driving regulations on private roads, because they are not owned by the state or by municipalities. (There are rare exceptions, such as drunken driving arrests.)
Glenn

5 thoughts on “Private Roads, Public Access”

  1. I have gotten so much shit for entering/exiting a trail access point on a ‘private drive’ until actually talking to the person. Here in WV, face to face/word of mouth communication is more important than a ream of contractual agreements. Gotta love it.

  2. The problem is liability. If someone gets injured or killed on a private way then who will be held responsible. This is why no tresspassing signs are put up. Ask any town traffic advisory comittee and they will dance around the liability issue because towns want no part of it. The abutters have rights to block access and post signs.

  3. “Do the people along the private way have rights in the private way? Yes, But those rights are subject to the right of the public to traverse the way….
    Police, in fact, can hardly enforce any driving regulations on private roads, because they are not owned by the state or by municipalities. (There are rare exceptions, such as drunken driving arrests.)”

    Rights, right of way, ownership, responsibility… wouldn’t it all be simpler if everyone just respected each others property and allowed fair use. Riding down someone’s lane seems like a completely innocuous use – it doesn’t harm anyone or anything.

    Of course “owners” are concerned with those who would cause harm – but really if someone wants to cause harm by stealing, vandalism… whatever, the privateness of a roadway ain’t going to stop them is it?

  4. I’m not sure where you’re getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for excellent info I was looking for this info for my mission.

Comments are closed.