BY STEVE WOLGAMOT
Sometimes the streets and sidewalks just don’t go quite where they need to.
Sometimes a path through a backyard can save a long walk.
Sometimes avoiding a big, fast road can keep you safe.
Sometimes a walk in some woods that nobody is using can be beautiful.
For all these reasons, generations of Americans walked across land owned by their neighbors. It was just what we did. In more recent years, this has been less common. It isn’t that we are less friendly, really. It’s more that we’re told time and again that we should be afraid of being sued.
Minnesota’s legislature, with guidance from people in this community, has created a way to solve this problem — a way to let walkers cut through yards, spare lots, etc., to and make it easier to get around without cars in our community. Under the provisions of Minnesota Statute 604A.20, landowners may grant permission to the public to use their land for specified recreational purposes, including walking, and be exempt from liability to people who are injured.
Here are the important points about this:
- Any path granted is temporary — landowners may close it at will
- No improvements are needed — just the bare permission to cross
- They need not be shoveled or maintained — use at your own risk
- You can make any rules you want — it remains your land
- To be protected, the landowner must actually give permission, not just ignore the use. This might mean a sign, maybe like this:
Sally and Bill Goodneighbor allow the public to use this Neighborway Path. Use it at your own risk: The owner has no duty to warn of hazards or maintain the path. Minnesota Statute 604A.20
Rules: No motorized vehicles • No animals weighing over 200 pounds •No polkas in the peonies
- A cut through a parking area that gets you to a trail instead of walking along a busy road.
- A place where a small road doesn’t reach a school or park, so cutting through a yard or driveway can keep children away from busy streets.
Are you interested in providing “Neighborway” access across your property? Contact Steve Wolgamot, firstname.lastname@example.org.