Instructions and rules to gravel road adventures in Finland
Lue tämä teksti suomeksi (in finnish)
Where can you drive an adventure bike in Finland?
Driving by a motor powered vehicle outside of normal roads (in the terrain or “off-road”) in Finland is allowed only by the permission of the land owner. The 4th section of Finland’s “Act on driving a motor powered vehicle outside normal roads” says the following:
”A motor powered vehicle can not be driven or stopped or parked in the terrain or outside normal roads without the permission of the land owner or land holder”.
The 3rd section defines the terrain as following:
“In this Act terrain is defined as an land area or icy water area, which is not a road and which is not meant for motor vehicle, rail or air traffic.”
The roads, off-roads, paths and tracks can be found from ”National land survey of Finland’s map site”, link (in English): Mapsite of Finland A dotted line on the map means that it is path or a track of some kind, not a road, and not to driven by any motor vehicle. Continuous black line means that it is a legal road. Snowmobile tracks are only for the snowmobiles.
You can always ask the land owner’s permission for off-roading. If you understand that your off-roading can’t cause any disturbance to the people or damage to the forest, you have good a chance of getting this kind of permission. It’s not wise to do off-roading near cities and villages. This only causes the people being annoyed by the noise. And this great sport of ours gets unneeded negative attention. If you have a real dirt-bike, the best way for using it is to join to a local association. By doing this you can use their dirt- and enduro tracks.
Source: “Act on driving a motor powered vehicle outside normal roads”. Link (in Finnish): Maastoliikennelaki
There are over 300.000 kilometers of gravel roads in Finland. These are basically open for all traffic and transportation, if the use of the road is not forbidden by traffic signs and if the use is occasional.
The owner(s) of a private road can deny the use of his / her / their road, if the government or the municipality does not maintain this road or the road has not gotten any financial aid for the last ten (10) years. This thing is something you can not tell by the condition of the road. Therefore if the use of a private road is not denied today, it can be denied tomorrow. Freedom brings responsibility!
It is also good to notice that adding a traffic sign to private road needs a licence from the municipality. For this reason some private roads do not have a traffic sign that prohibits the drive-thru traffic, even though the owners do not like this kind of traffic. The permission process for getting a traffic sign is long. Some road owners also think that traffic signs in the middle of nowhere do not look good.
By our own behavior, we can all influence to the cause are these private roads open for all people or not. Here are some basic principles for you to follow:
- Do not use a road that has a traffic sign which permits traffic.
- Avoid the continuous use of the road. Public use is only allowed if the use is random.
- When driving thru a yard (or a farm), drive as slow as possible, use low rpm’s and small gears. You must be prepared to stop your bike, if a child or a dog runs in front of you from behind a corner or a fence. Unnecessary and loud throttling causes unnecessary noise to the people.
- Notice the people and houses and farms which are located near the roads. People are annoyed by loud noises and high-speed overtaking in potentially dangerous.
- Be polite when meeting the owners of these private roads. If You are stopped when traveling these roads and you get some feedback, act in a polite way. Do not get into any debates or quote the Finnish Act on traffic and transportation. The easiest way is to admit your error and make a promise that you will avoid the use of this road in the future. Removing your helmet usually calms the other one. By this way we all maintain the good reputation that we adventure bikers have. And also avoid the banning the use of the great gravel roads in the future.
- When facing a horse, drop Your speed to minimum. A complete stop is even better. Avoid making sudden moves and loud noises. Stop your bike if the rider gives you a sign to stop. Raise your speed after when the horse has passed you and is a long way from you.
Remember that are more than enough gravel roads in Finland, even when they are not all open for public use.
Source: “The Act on private roads in Finland”. Link (in Finnish): Yksityistielaki