AN ambitious plan to create a major cycling route has been launched and leading organisations and personalities are being urged to support the venture.

The Ryedale Trail is the idea of national cycling charity Sustrans, Helmsley Arts Centre, parish councillors and residents, said the campaign group’s leader, Helen Gundry, outlining her plan to Pickering Town Council.

The aim, she said, is to link the communities in Ryedale with a route which will be safe for young and old, walkers, cyclists, buggies, dogs, horseriders and nature lovers.

“Sustrans can help with the bigger picture, backing our ideas with national research and case studies on how such major route would boost economic growth, improve health and help the environment. Including everyone in this attracts support from all quarters and attracts political powers to get major Government and EU funding,” said Ms Gundry.

The venture comes only seven months before the Tour de France’s Grand Depart in Yorkshire, which will see thousands of cycling enthusiasts as well as the racers themselves, heading for the county.

Ms Gundry said the details of the route needed to be studied at local level. “There may be different options to begin with, which will have pros and cons. Help from every parish and town council is needed so we can draw a basic map of how the Ryedale Trail could pass through a parish for the benefit of residents and visitors.”

Town and parish councils are being urged to get involved on planning the route, together with landowners, to build a picture of the local scenery, and where facilities such as shops and cafés are located.

“We are hoping that more people will see the benefits and opportunities and become supporters,” she said.

Organisations urged to get involved include English Heritage, National Trust, Cycle Touring Club, equestrian societies, chambers of trade, youth groups, Local Enterprise Partnership for Ryedale, North Yorkshire County Council, North York Moors National Park Authority, Ryedale District Council, The Ramblers and the NHS, as well as Robert Goodwill, MP for Scarborough and Whitby, and the newly-appointed Under Secretary of State for Transport, who has special responsibility for cycling.

“The big picture may turn out to be a walk/cycle/horse riding route parallel to the A170,” said Ms Gundry.

A steering group is being set up, she said, and Pickering Town Council has given its support to the venture. Sustrans will detail how the Ryedale Trail could connect to the National Cycle Network, after which the steering group will hold its first meeting.

An action plan is being drawn up, which will include public exhibitions about the potential trail, putting forward a vision document and ultimately outlining a preferred route.