RYEDALE residents are being encouraged to seize the government’s initiative to “get Britain on its bike” to enable social distancing and tackle obesity.

The government is asking local authorities to look at changes to enable more cycling and walking instead of using public transport.

Ryedale Cycle Forum has been working to increase the number of safe green, car-free routes between communities since it was formed in 2013.

Helen Grundy, from the forum, said suggestions continued to come forward for sections of path across Ryedale.

“This is great because more funding is likely from government, trusts and corporate sponsorship, but local people need to shout

quite loud about what is needed,” she said. “Paths are expensive to install, but the benefits are massive for local people. It is really important to support tourism businesses by making Ryedale easier to travel in a green way.

“For our village and town residents of all ages, getting out supports physical and mental health; fighting loneliness by enabling socially-distanced contact, cheap travel to work or training; active travel to school; access to shops and amenities and events in neighbouring towns; reducing air pollution and traffic congestion.”

Helen said: “Ryedale Cycle Forum encourage parish and town councils to look at what they need and think of everyone.

“This means nice wide and level paths, that is around three metres wide for roadside paths, with as much verge as possible between path and traffic.

“Across farmland, the North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) regulation is four metres wide unfenced, or a five metre wide fenced, but including a verge for horse riding, so funds need to be found to compensate for loss of land.”

Helen said Ryedale District Council (RDC) made a successful bid for European Tourism Structural Development Funds last year, which will pay for signs and improved surfaces between Malton and Pickering, with work due to start this year.

“Kirkbymoorside Town Council and Nawton Parish Council are both keen for their communities to be connected, by creating a wide path on the A170 verge, and using some sections of quiet lanes, but avoiding the ford of Hodge Beck.

“Emphasis is on a ‘path for everyone’, not just cyclists.

“This means we want the path to also be suitable for mobility scooters, electric wheelchairs, runners, prams, walkers and horse-riders.”

Helen added: “We are also in the early stages of consultation with Malton Town Council, Slingsby Parish Council, Amotherby Parish Council and Swinton Parish Council who have all said they would support in principal a ‘path for everyone’ to link up all these villages along the B1257.

“It would be great if RDC could use some of the remaining S106 funds they have, and some Community Infrastructure Levy from all the new estates that are being built, to install some safe paths where needed.

“If RDC do get dissolved, and absorbed into a NYCC in a couple of years, this funding needs using now.”

Cllr Kean Duncan, leader of RDC, said: “We are doing all we can go get Ryedale on its bike.

“We have already had major success in securing funding for the Malton to Pickering route, with work progressing at pace.

“We are now looking to do even more with other routes that have great potential to be delivered in a quick timescale. What we are not doing is penalising motorists.”

Cllr Duncan added: “Our approach is very much about respecting everyone who uses our roads, with a particular focus on routes in the countryside completely distinct from busy roads. So this is also helping safety too.

“We are very happy to keep engaging on this and listen to any route suggestions.”