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Living in a rural area provides some great riding experiences, but the one thing I really hate at this time of year is the amount mud deposited on the roads from tractors. Its bad enough in the wet when it becomes a mud bath, but if allowed to dry the deposits are potential hazards to anything on two wheels (I’ve almost come a cropper on more than one occasion).  A quick Google reveals that under the Highways Act 1980 it is an offence for farmers (or anyone else for that matter) to deposit mud and other things on the highway (S148), which could result in prosecution and a fine.   Given that this is a regular occurrence where I live, the tractors clearly aren’t being cleaned properly as they should before taking to public roads, but I wouldn’t even know where to begin with regards raising it with someone.  Anyone else ever had this problem?

 

33 comments

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ktache [2214 posts] 2 weeks ago
2 likes

For me at the moment, it was the torrential downpours of late, that flooded the roads with water that when that went, left the filth.

Some of the hilly bridleways were stripped to pebbly and chalk riverbeds, with pools of silt and horse poop in sections.

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Rick_Rude [450 posts] 2 weeks ago
3 likes

All the time problem near me as we have loads of small farms, most of which don't give a toss about this. One puts up cardboard signs on a stick. Literally a large stick with brown cardboard and some marker pen. Of course this is near invisible even in daylight.

Annoying on a bicycle, potentially deadly on a motorbike.

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ibr17xvii [447 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like

Agree with the OP.

They are murder for this & also for close passing. If anyone should be giving more room than normal it's them with the size of their tyres right next to you but for a lot of them it seems too much to ask.

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Sriracha [319 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like

My guess is they don't really understand the problem, probably see it only in terms of a few chelsea tractor drivers moaning about having to pay an extra £5 to an illegal car wash gang exploiting another Romanian slave labourer.

If it is a regular route, maybe get to speak with the farmer and explain your side of things, like nicely. It might work. I don't see "enforcement" working.

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Htc [154 posts] 2 weeks ago
7 likes

Or.... just people going about their business trying to make a living. It's the countryside, get over it.

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brooksby [5158 posts] 2 weeks ago
13 likes
Htc wrote:

Or.... just people going about their business trying to make a living. It's the countryside, get over it.

Except that it is an offence:

https://www.wrighthassall.co.uk/knowledge/legal-articles/2012/12/18/whos-liable-mud-road/

Quote:

Farmers (and other vehicle operatives such as construction companies) are legally obliged to clear up after themselves and are potentially liable for a range of offences. While there is a range of powers available to the police and highways department the primary powers fall under the Highways Act 1980:

Section 148 of the Highways Act 1980 makes it an offence to deposit mud etc. on the highway that would interrupt other users of the highway.

Section 149 of the Highways Act 1980 gives the highways authority the power to clean the road and recover its expenses from the person causing the obstruction.

Section 161 Highways Act 1980 “If a person, without lawful authority or excuse, deposits anything whatsoever on a highway in consequence of which a user of the highway is injured or endangered, that person is guilty of an offence”. Contravention of sections 148 and 162 can lead to a Level 3 fine of £1000 in the magistrate’s court. Furthermore if mud on the road leads to personal injury, damage to property, or any loss or inconvenience then the person responsible may be liable for damages. A conviction in the criminal court may be relied on in a claim for damages.

'Countryside', 'trying to make a living', 'whatever', I'm pretty sure you still have an obligation to obey the law and not put other road users at risk.

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kil0ran [1724 posts] 2 weeks ago
4 likes
ibr17xvii wrote:

Agree with the OP.

They are murder for this & also for close passing. If anyone should be giving more room than normal it's them with the size of their tyres right next to you but for a lot of them it seems too much to ask.

Most tractors are limited to 30mph so overtaking a road cyclist is tricky, particularly on tight country lanes. I tend to pull over and let them past, otherwise you just end up with a tractor plus a huge queue of pissed off drivers behind it.

As to the mud on the road, it's the countryside. Just like you don't have a bike wash available when you come off the trail, they don't have tractor washes in every field. Dealing with mud and run-off from fields is the downside of living in the countryside and all those other benefits you get. Same with thorns and rubbish from hedge cutting and, in my case, coming round a corner on a descent to find the road full of pigs. Or getting covered in cow shit. Or being chased by cows. Or having deer appear from nowhere. 

If you live somewhere rural you make adjustments for local conditions. I've never encountered an issue with mud on the road in years of cycling in and around the New Forest. Diesel spills, now that's another matter...

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Kendalred [396 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes

Same here in South Cumbria - there are some roads I avoid now as I know that the road by these particular farms will be covered in mud and cowshit. Yes they are obliged by law to deal with it, but it's just like other laws that apply more to the countryside (ie hunting foxes with hounds), they are never upheld.

I can't say it bothers me that much, I usually use the winter bike on the commutes so it gets a hose-down after most rides anyway, and I've not come close to coming off due to it. Having said that, I'd rather not have to go through it if possible!

 

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peted76 [1606 posts] 2 weeks ago
5 likes

There's a few places on our local routes which get muddy at this time of year, certainly you need to be a bit more careful, but it's the countryside, it's autumn (a very wet autumn) and tractors go in and out of fields. No sense getting het up about it, it'll rain and all will be right again soon enough.

 

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HoarseMann [306 posts] 2 weeks ago
2 likes
kil0ran wrote:

Most tractors are limited to 30mph so overtaking a road cyclist is tricky, particularly on tight country lanes. I tend to pull over and let them past, otherwise you just end up with a tractor plus a huge queue of pissed off drivers behind it.

Yep, I pulled over for one of these when I saw it approaching in my mirror the other day. Possibly the most intimidating vehicle I've ever seen!

 

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Htc [154 posts] 2 weeks ago
3 likes
brooksby wrote:
Htc wrote:

Or.... just people going about their business trying to make a living. It's the countryside, get over it.

Except that it is an offence:

https://www.wrighthassall.co.uk/knowledge/legal-articles/2012/12/18/whos-liable-mud-road/

Quote:

Farmers (and other vehicle operatives such as construction companies) are legally obliged to clear up after themselves and are potentially liable for a range of offences. While there is a range of powers available to the police and highways department the primary powers fall under the Highways Act 1980:

Section 148 of the Highways Act 1980 makes it an offence to deposit mud etc. on the highway that would interrupt other users of the highway.

Section 149 of the Highways Act 1980 gives the highways authority the power to clean the road and recover its expenses from the person causing the obstruction.

Section 161 Highways Act 1980 “If a person, without lawful authority or excuse, deposits anything whatsoever on a highway in consequence of which a user of the highway is injured or endangered, that person is guilty of an offence”. Contravention of sections 148 and 162 can lead to a Level 3 fine of £1000 in the magistrate’s court. Furthermore if mud on the road leads to personal injury, damage to property, or any loss or inconvenience then the person responsible may be liable for damages. A conviction in the criminal court may be relied on in a claim for damages.

'Countryside', 'trying to make a living', 'whatever', I'm pretty sure you still have an obligation to obey the law and not put other road users at risk.

Yeah, we all know that it's an offence. Most farmers actually do regular road cleaning themselves. Doesn't mean that the road is always going to be clear of mud or that's in completely avoidable. Get over yourself.

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cougie [86 posts] 2 weeks ago
4 likes

It's inevitable.  If a tractor drives off a muddy field then it will bring some mud with it.  Just ride to the conditions. 

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cougie [86 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes

It's inevitable.  If a tractor drives off a muddy field then it will bring some mud with it.  Just ride to the conditions. 

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Run BMC [19 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like
cougie wrote:

It's inevitable.  If a tractor drives off a muddy field then it will bring some mud with it.  Just ride to the conditions. 

 

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a whinge about a little mud which might make my bike a bit dirty. I get that at this time of year that's inevitable - what I'm talking about are substantial deposits which could be hazardous if ridden over - there's a difference.

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brooksby [5158 posts] 2 weeks ago
3 likes
Htc wrote:

Yeah, we all know that it's an offence. Most farmers actually do regular road cleaning themselves. Doesn't mean that the road is always going to be clear of mud or that's in completely avoidable. Get over yourself.

From the OP:

Quote:

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a whinge about a little mud which might make my bike a bit dirty. I get that at this time of year that's inevitable - what I'm talking about are substantial deposits which could be hazardous if ridden over - there's a difference.

Get over yourself  yes 

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Run BMC [19 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes
brooksby wrote:
Htc wrote:

Yeah, we all know that it's an offence. Most farmers actually do regular road cleaning themselves. Doesn't mean that the road is always going to be clear of mud or that's in completely avoidable. Get over yourself.

From the OP:

Quote:

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a whinge about a little mud which might make my bike a bit dirty. I get that at this time of year that's inevitable - what I'm talking about are substantial deposits which could be hazardous if ridden over - there's a difference.

Get over yourself  yes 

 

You're right brooksby, what was I thinking?!  1

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Shades [509 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes

I commuted on lanes for a couple of years and it was pretty annoying; I don't think we're talking about a bit of mud, it's the 2 inch thick layer of stcky clay mud that's been dragged up from the depths of the field.  Sticks to the wheel and you have to stop to clear it off.  One of the reasons I steer clear of lanes from now until March as it's all a bit random.  Couple this with vehicles smashing up the muddy verges and it's just not worth the hassle of a major bike clean after a ride.  Luckily I moved jobs but I was about to give up the winter commute as the bike needed cleaning every evening or else the mech just siezed up.  Lots of bits needed replacing after that period of riding.

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brooksby [5158 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like
Run BMC wrote:
brooksby wrote:
Htc wrote:

Yeah, we all know that it's an offence. Most farmers actually do regular road cleaning themselves. Doesn't mean that the road is always going to be clear of mud or that's in completely avoidable. Get over yourself.

From the OP:

Quote:

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a whinge about a little mud which might make my bike a bit dirty. I get that at this time of year that's inevitable - what I'm talking about are substantial deposits which could be hazardous if ridden over - there's a difference.

Get over yourself  yes 

You're right brooksby, what was I thinking?!  1

I think that Htc thought you were complaining that the roads are dirty or something...  

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mattsccm [431 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like

Rear in mind that there is no legal requirement to have a chap with a shovel and broom following bthe tractor to have an instant clean up. This means that there may be mud on the road.  It is allowed.

Naturally all sensible people ride and drive to the conditions so if you have a problem you were not.  Just slow down or even get off and walk. 

To my mind the agrioculural community has a far greater right to be on the roads, muck and all than a bunch of selfish cyclists out for a jolly. I include myself here. 

Its the country side. I assume that those complaining are also moaning about those who leave glass on the road, or diesel or phone masts that screw the country side. Not just one of the above but all of them at the same time.

 

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Run BMC [19 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like
mattsccm wrote:

Rear in mind that there is no legal requirement to have a chap with a shovel and broom following bthe tractor to have an instant clean up. This means that there may be mud on the road.  It is allowed.

Naturally all sensible people ride and drive to the conditions so if you have a problem you were not.  Just slow down or even get off and walk. 

To my mind the agrioculural community has a far greater right to be on the roads, muck and all than a bunch of selfish cyclists out for a jolly. I include myself here. 

Its the country side. I assume that those complaining are also moaning about those who leave glass on the road, or diesel or phone masts that screw the country side. Not just one of the above but all of them at the same time.

 

 

I think that mattsccm thought I was complaining that the roads are dirty or something...   

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Simon E [3863 posts] 2 weeks ago
7 likes
Htc wrote:

Yeah, we all know that it's an offence. Most farmers actually do regular road cleaning themselves. Doesn't mean that the road is always going to be clear of mud or that's in completely avoidable. Get over yourself.

"Most farmers do regular road cleaning"??? F**k off, you're having a laugh. A few do but the vast majority certainly do not.

And to dismiss what most of us to be real concern about safety that way is unhelpful and sadly typical of the "That's country life, live with it, townie" mentality of many selfish farmers and contractors.

West Mercia Police issue a press release every year reminding farmers of their responsibility to other road users, describing leaving mud on roads as "reckless and irresponsible". They don't do that for no reason.

I'd expect most councils to offer a method of reporting it. Shropshire council has a portal where you can report potholes, mud etc.

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Awavey [665 posts] 2 weeks ago
4 likes

Its interesting so many people have different interpretations of what constitutes 'mud on the roads'. In East Anglia what you tend to get from now till spring is by field entrances farm vehicles drag big clods of ploughed mud onto the road which slowly get compressed by the weight of their and other passing vehicles into these small mounds, and you'll be left with lots of these rock hard lumps of mud in your path,the earth is very clay rich in this part of the world,so it dries very solid.

on two wheels they are like riding over washboard, easily enough to unbalance you if you catch the wrong angle/speed or were unsigned and invariably you cant pick a safe route and slalom through it because you always hit them just as some idiot in a 4x4 Chelsea tractor close passes you.

FWIW I do think it can be a serious hazard for bike riders,its got nothing to do with getting your bike muddy

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Run BMC [19 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like
Awavey wrote:

Its interesting so many people have different interpretations of what constitutes 'mud on the roads'. In East Anglia what you tend to get from now till spring is by field entrances farm vehicles drag big clods of ploughed mud onto the road which slowly get compressed by the weight of their and other passing vehicles into these small mounds, and you'll be left with lots of these rock hard lumps of mud in your path,the earth is very clay rich in this part of the world,so it dries very solid. on two wheels they are like riding over washboard, easily enough to unbalance you if you catch the wrong angle/speed or were unsigned and invariably you cant pick a safe route and slalom through it because you always hit them just as some idiot in a 4x4 Chelsea tractor close passes you. FWIW I do think it can be a serious hazard for bike riders,its got nothing to do with getting your bike muddy

 

Sounds like we have the same soil type - that's exactly how I'd describe it.  No fun at all!

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kil0ran [1724 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes
Awavey wrote:

Its interesting so many people have different interpretations of what constitutes 'mud on the roads'. In East Anglia what you tend to get from now till spring is by field entrances farm vehicles drag big clods of ploughed mud onto the road which slowly get compressed by the weight of their and other passing vehicles into these small mounds, and you'll be left with lots of these rock hard lumps of mud in your path,the earth is very clay rich in this part of the world,so it dries very solid. on two wheels they are like riding over washboard, easily enough to unbalance you if you catch the wrong angle/speed or were unsigned and invariably you cant pick a safe route and slalom through it because you always hit them just as some idiot in a 4x4 Chelsea tractor close passes you. FWIW I do think it can be a serious hazard for bike riders,its got nothing to do with getting your bike muddy

Ah, interesting perspective on the problem, thanks. New Forest/Cranborne Chase mud isn't like that - sandy/chalky soil mostly around here, and hills mean that roads get washed clean naturally after a few days hours.

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Simon E [3863 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like

Soil is mostly glacial till (clay) around here. There is usually a trail of mud from a field entrance where vehicles have repeatedly gone in and out, as they have done recently while harvesting maize (probably the worst crop for mud and soil) or drilling winter crops.  It may dry into a broad ridge but sometimes it stays damp and then it's really slippery.

The farmers leave it to let the rain to wash the mud away but the smaller, winding roads and lanes have much less traffic than A or B roads so it takes much longer for it to clear. These roads are not wide enough for me to change line to avoid the worst bits.

And it's not just mud carried from fields. The wide track of modern tractors (and trailers) means that they chew up the soft verges, which ends up on the road.

If I was concerned about getting my bike muddy I would hardly ride it at all in the winter!

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srchar [1619 posts] 2 weeks ago
8 likes
Htc wrote:

Or.... just people going about their business trying to make a living. It's the countryside, get over it.

Farmers don't get an out simply because they're farmers.  Oh you were maimed when you got knocked off your bike by a dump truck? Just people going about their business trying to make a living.  It's the city, get over it.

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bikeman01 [124 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like

It's not really about keeping the bike clean is it, it's about the dangerously slippy road. And it's not just bikes, I've seen a couple of cars come a cropper.

Anyone who lives anywhere near the HS2 route is by now getting pretty used to the field access point roads being covered in mud for 400 metres in every direction.

HS2 contractors don't give a shit so don't expect the farmers to either.

UK laws are made to be broken.. apparently

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zero_trooper [383 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like

To answer the OP's original question(s):

Depositing mud on the road is an offence.

Report it to the police and emphasise the danger to road users.

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hobbeldehoy [42 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes

What a joy it must be to live in the dry conditions of Spain or South of France where you can cycle on clean roads and not need to strip the bike down to get all the mud and grit out of the gears and sprockets all the time. And of course you have a choice of using the dangerous main roads with heavy traffic or taking the quiet option of farm roads with all the mud, gravel and potholes.

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Kapelmuur [477 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like

This isn't a new problem, I remember about 60 years ago my Dad complaining about mud from rural Shropshire roads spoiling the paintwork of his new Ford Anglia and saying that farmers were legally obliged to clean up.

I mentioned this to a school friend whose father was a farmer and he said that as his father and the Chief Constable were members of the same hunt he doubted whether the police would be interested.

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