I've just moved to Edinburgh, and I understand that the land reform act 2003 lets me cycle on most land, excluding certain places like some highways or ministry of defense land. Does this mean I'm within my rights to cycle on the pavement, as long as I'm not behaving in an "antisocial manner"? I presume I can't do so on the land directly next to a highway, but what about paths set in from the road?
In Scotland the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 gives everybody the right to non motorised access to most land in Scotland, including roads, tracks, and paths. So, apart from trampling over gardens or disturbing working farm-yards, you can walk, ride your bike, or ride a horse on any path, road or field margin.
But even in the rest of the UK you are often within your rights to cycle on the pavement:
Minister for Cycling Robert Goodwill has reiterated that the official line from the Department for Transport (DfT) is that cyclists may ride on the footway – more commonly referred to as pavements – provided they do so considerately, and that police officers need to exercise discretion.
This reiterates advice that Paul Boateng, Home Office Minister at the time, gave to police in 1999. At this time a new law was introduced allowing cyclists to be issued with a fixed penalty notice for cycling on pavements. However Mr Boateng gave advice on how this should be applied and recommended that it be used only when the cyclist is riding in a manner that "may endanger others":
“The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of traffic and who show consideration to other pavement users when doing so. Chief police officers, who are responsible for enforcement, acknowledge that many cyclists, particularly children and young people, are afraid to cycle on the road, sensitivity and careful use of police discretion is required.”
It seems to me (neither a Scot nor a lawyer), that it's generally illegal to cycle along Scottish pavements (using the UK interpretation of "pavement": "sidewalk" in the US).
According to a briefing for the Scottish Parliament:
the issue of cycling on the pavement is more complicated than it may first appear. [...]
As we will see...
Firstly, they define "footway", and state that it's not generally lawful to cycle on one:
Footway: Commonly known as “the pavement”, a footway is a way, which is associated with a carriageway, where right of passage is limited to foot. [ ... ]
Generally, anyone cycling on a footway or footpath in Scotland is committing an offence under the provisions of Section 129(5) of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984. It is not an offence to cycle across a footway or footpath to access a cycle track, driveway or other land where cycling is allowed.
This looks like it's generally illegal to cycle along Scottish pavements (using the UK interpretation of "pavement": "sidewalk" in the US). Next, they look at the Act mentioned in the question:
The issue is complicated by access rights granted to cyclists under Section 1 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 (“the 2003 Act”). The 2003 Act allows cycling on most land unless access is controlled by or under another enactment. This means that land reform access rights do not normally apply to roads or footways as their use is restricted under various statutes. [ ... ]
To further complicate matters, Section 7(1) of the 2003 Act states that the restriction on access rights described above does not apply where land has been designated as a “core path” under the provisions of the 2003 Act. This means that cyclists may be able to cycle on a footpath, or even a footway, designated as a core path without committing an offence.
This (official) guidance seems to say that pavements are not generally covered by the Land Reform Act (because "access is controlled by or under another enactment"), but there are exceptions. It's not clear to me how to determine whether something is a "core path"; I think it's determined by Local Authorities rather than centrally.
The briefing goes on to say:
However, it is important to remember that access rights must be exercised responsibly and cyclists should consider cycling on the carriageway (i.e. road) even if the associated footway has been designated as a core path
Which sounds like good advice to me.
Strictly speaking, no.
Highway Code Rule 64 says:
You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement
This is a "MUST NOT" rule, i.e. backed up by legislation. In Scotland the relevant legislation is the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984, Section 129. The rule seems pretty unequivocal.
Personally speaking, when I'm out cycling with my young children and there is no cycle track available, I'll choose to ride with them on the pavement (footway), taking extra care when encountering pedestrians or others using the footway. It's by far the safest option for them and I've yet to be challenged by the police or anyone else for doing this.