A public path, or public right of way is a route over which the public have a right to pass and re-pass.

Public rights of way are part of the wider public highway network. The network in Sunderland is made up of four types of path: footpaths, bridleways, Road Used as a Public Path, and byways open to all traffic.

Public rights on these paths are:

Footpaths - on foot only
Bridleway - on foot, horse and pedal cycle

Road Used as a Public Path

Generally same as bridleways, although evidence may support upgrade or downgrade of the route to one of higher or lesser status. Many will become restricted by-ways (available by means not mechanically propelled) following recent legislation.

Byway

On foot, horse, pedal cycle, and motor vehicle.

The legal record of public rights of way is known as the Definitive Map. The Definitive Map is maintained by the Highway Authority, and is under a process of continuous review.

The legal status of a route does not guarantee that it will be accessible to all who can legally use it. The character and location of a path (on a slope or remote) may mean that some people may not be able to access all or any of it. However Sunderland Council has a policy of maintaining and seeking improvements to the path network where resources and opportunity allow, so as to maximise network accessibility.

The Highway Authority has a duty to assert and protect the rights of the public to use and enjoy public rights of way. If you find a public right of way to be obstructed, you should report it to the Public Rights of Way Officer. The Council will take appropriate measures, including enforcement, to protect the rights of the public to use the rights of way in the City area.