Although it may seem odd, the presence of the sign does make sense (except to non-Brits who might wonder about an apparent restriction on motorbikes jumping over cars).
Long Lane, entering the image from the left and heading away into the distance, was a major mediaeval route between Clapham and Selside (and on to Hawes), used both by livestock drovers and carts carrying such goods as charcoal or salt. Due to the nature of the terrain, it was often preferable to follow high-level but dry routes over limestone ridges rather than seemingly easier but wetter valleys.
The track, along with the one entering from the right, from Austwick, remained in use into the era of surfaced roads and motorised vehicles, so was officially classified as a 'byway open to all traffic' (aka 'green lane', though that term has no legal status), primarily for use by horses and pedestrians but legally open to motor vehicles. I quite like that link to the past, a reminder of the upland's heritage as a working environment.
However, rapid growth in the recreational use of trail motorbikes and quad bikes has caused considerable concern to conservationists and National Park managers – the 10 km stretch between Clapham and Sulber Nick crosses a SSSI and a SAC.
An Experimental Traffic Regulation Order was introduced for 18 months from March 2004, a result of which was that the County Council agreed in February 2007 to let the National Park Authority close 'green lanes' outright to unnecessary (recreational, as opposed to agricultural) access by motor vehicles. Unfortunately, one can't rely on a majority of vehicle users following best practice as an irresponsible minority can have a disproportionate impact, so I reluctantly support the ban.
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