Craigavon Lakes has become increasingly popular over the past few years for walking, cycling, wheeling and running, but it’s only a tiny part of a larger, traffic-free travel system, unique on the island of Ireland.
While the paths around the Lakes measure about 5km – there are almost 40km of traffic-free cycle paths in Craigavon, reaching towards Portadown, Lurgan and Lough Neagh. The problem is the lack of any mapping or signage to help navigate it – and therefore a general lack of awareness… until now!
Stephen McNally of Cycul explains:
We’re all aware of Craigavon’s infamous roundabouts – between Lurgan and Portadown – but have you noticed that there are no footpaths alongside these roads, no pedestrians, no traffic lights or zebra crossings? That’s because there’s a totally separate network for walkers and cyclists, running under and over the road network.
Back in the early 1960s, when Craigavon’s planners were designing the traffic system, they were already aware of the effect increasing traffic was having on communities. They recognised that the young and the old, no longer found it safe to travel in their communities on foot or bicycle. Therefore, they designed a very sophisticated, separate transport system for Craigavon, using over 40 underpasses and 6 large bridges, so that walkers and cyclists would never encounter cars.”
Cycul spent the winter of 2021-22 researching and mapping the cycle network – known locally as the Black Paths – and developed this web resource with an active travel map, suggested routes to explore, Google map, news section and a history of the network.
The hope is that it helps people appreciate what’s possible above and below the busy roads in Craigavon, and persuades them to get to school, to the shops, the leisure centre, the local industrial estates, train stations, and get out and explore the Black Paths.