LONG term plans would see Northwich linked by cycle paths that a 12-year-old would be safe to use on their own, according to experts.

Sustrans has been examining the town centre and surrounding villages to see what can be done to make cycling into and around Northwich a more attractive option for everyday cyclists.

Peter Green, from Sustrans, gave a report about the organisation's work at the latest meeting of Northwich Town Council.

"Sustrans is about everyday cycling," he said.

"You don't have to be anything special to ride a bike or walk and we want people to ride a bike or walk because it's the obvious thing to do, not because they're going to be the next Olympian."

Peter explained Sustrans' criteria for cycle routes.

"Routes should be continuous, obvious and intuitive to follow," he said.

"The benchmark is if a route can be followed and used by an independent 12-year-old travelling on their own and something that their parents would be happy for them to use."

Sustrans has been commissioned to write a plan for Northwich by a group that formed last summer to focus on the issue as a spin-off from the Northwich Neighbourhood Plan.

This group included representatives from Northwich Town Council, the business community and the Guardian's Pedal Power campaign.

The final plan will be used in the Northwich Neighbourhood Plan as a blueprint for future work and a wish list for when funding becomes available.

Peter said that traffic-free routes, such as the Connect 2 route along the River Dane and River Weaver, were perfect but were not always possible.

Sustrans looks at short cuts that give cyclists and pedestrians an advantage over motorists and makes the most of quiet residential areas along the main corridors into town centres, reducing points of conflict between road users.

Excellent signage is also vital so that people know exactly where the routes can take them.

Peter said that Northwich already had good approaching the town centre but they do not tend to link up or go into or across the town centre itself.

"The report looks at how to build on what's been achieved in Northwich already – there's a lot of work that's very good indeed, it just needs knitting together," he said.

"We would hope that this document will be more than just tinkering around the edges but a blue print for the long term investment in the town and part of a mix of very real transportation options for residents."