Walking in the mountains implies knowledge of the terrain and the rules of good conduct, but also of the legislation that regulates the activity. In Madeira, this is no exception.
For many years, the diplomas that regulated walking in the mountains of the Region were not obvious or were silent regarding the existence and application of fines for those who did not comply with the indications of the authorities in this matter.
The Regional Legislative Decree No. 7-B/2000/M, which established the recommended pedestrian paths in the Autonomous Region of Madeira, and which was in force until December 2022, said nothing about fines for situations of disrespect for signage.
However, with the entry into force of the Regional Legislative Decree No. 24/2022/M, the situation changed and the situations and amounts to be applied in case of non-compliance were defined.
The diploma in question establishes the legal regime of the pedestrian paths of the Region and, among other matters, in its Article 13, defines the situations in which sanctions are applied to offenders.
It immediately became clear that different infractions could result in fines, ranging from 250 euros to 2,500 euros for individuals; or from 500 euros to 10,000 euros for legal entities, i.e., companies.
What situations lead to fines?
The same article defines as infractions subject to a fine the “acts or activities that contribute to the degradation or destruction of the infrastructure that constitutes the pedestrian paths and the signage referred to in Article 4,” namely the informational panels and the auxiliary signage for information and orientation, like posts or arrows.
As mentioned, access to temporarily or permanently closed pedestrian paths can also lead to a fine in the aforementioned amounts, as well as “the circulation of vehicles of any nature on pedestrian paths, except in the exercise of maintenance, recovery, and improvement activities or in emergency and rescue missions.”
Therefore, riding a motorcycle or a bicycle on these trails constitutes a violation of the law in force. In these cases, the foreseen infractions can also lead to the seizure and loss of the objects used in the commission of the infraction as an additional sanction, when the gravity of the offense justifies it. In addition, offenders may be required to repair the damage caused, minimizing the effects resulting from the irregular activity.
Leaving rubbish or any waste on the trails also results in a fine.
Similarly, “the public disclosure of pedestrian paths with express reference to a non-existent official classification or suggesting in some way such classification” can be a violation of the established rules. The same applies to “not carrying out, in whole or in part, the maintenance and cleaning of the pedestrian paths, after the holding of races or events organized on them.”