THE North Yorkshire market town of Pickering could become the cycling capital of the county according to the town council which has given the green-light to an initiative to create a network of cycleways.

It was put forward by councillor Neil Armstrong as an alternative to a Sustrans-Ryedale District Council plan to establish a cycle route between Malton and Pickering.

Mr Armstrong, who runs Pickering outdoor activity and equipment store, Trail Blazers, said: "The Sustrans venture will cost a great deal of money - between £750,000 and £1m and it will just be for one seven-mile route.

"What we need is a network of cycleways in Ryedale by converting existing footpaths and pedestrian and cycleways."

He added: "Ryedale is renowned for its spectacular scenery and by having some dedicated cycleways we could attract many more tourists to the district."

"We have some excellent backroads and lanes in Ryedale which would be ideal for cyclists.

"It is not safe for them to be using the increasingly busy roads but we could create initial routes between Pickering and Thornton-le-Dale and Kirkbymoorside."

The town council backed a report by Mr Armstrong in which he says Pickering should have a cycling network.

"It could benefit the town significantly - we should be at the forefront to make Pickering the cycle capital of Yorkshire."