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Pupils face increased danger

Due to the Depepartment for Infrastructure’s decision to demolish the Moylin bridge, a local school principal has spoken of the increased danger school children now face.

BBC NI are reporting on the increased danger pupils face after the Department for Instrastructure demolished the Moylin bride in March 2023.

As reported here in February, the department has neither a plan nor a budget to replace the bridge.

Paddy Mallon, the principal of St Anthony’s, told BBC News NI: “Every Monday and Wednesday around half our school, so about 350 pupils, would have used the bridge to get to the leisure centre to swim. They could’ve nearly cycled there on their own and we encouraged it because they would be doing that at the weekends,” Mr Mallon added.

The school has now stopped pupils cycling to the leisure centre.

Full report here.

DFI to remove Moylin footbridge

The Department for Infrastructure has announced it will remove the Moylin footbridge over the weekend of Thursday 16 to Monday 20 March 2023. However, it has neither a plan or a budget to replace.

The Department for Infrastructure has announced it will ewmove the Moylin footbridge over the weekend of Thursday 16 to Monday 20 March 2023.

This is a key piece of infrastrutcure linking schools and the community to the city park, South Lakes leisure centre and the greater Craigavon, Portadown and Lurgan areas.

DFI has said it is “aware of the bridge’s importance to the local community which forms part of the National Cycling Network and provides an essential link to the nearby leisure centre, Craigavon City Park and the Rushmere Shopping Centre. With this in mind the Department is taking forward a scheme to provide an alternative wheeling / walking / cycling link.  This scheme recently commenced on site, with the aim of the alternative link being completed before the bridge is removed. The alternative route will be sign posted in both directions for the assistance of users”

While DFI have plans for alternative routes and signposting - there is neither a plan or budget in place to replace the bridge.

“The development of a permanent solution is underway with the timing of construction being subject to budget availability and the completion of statutory processes.”

Cllr Catherine Nelson (SF) posted on Facebook, saying: “I have just met with the head of DfI, Southern Division about plans to demolish this bridge in March. We have been reassured that the bridge will be a priority and will be rebuilt within the next 18months (subject to procurement).
We will hold DFI to their commitment”

Press release is available here…

Black Paths Cycle Tour

To celebrate Bike Week this year, several events were held on the Black Paths. With the support of Live Here Love Here and ABC Council we organised two tours of the Black Paths, intended to showcase the incredible active travel network stretching from Craigavon to Portadown & Lurgan.

The tours lasted around 2 hours and covered 20km of the overall 40km network. The tours left from the South Lake Leisure Centre and with the first 10km spent exploring the vast network of paths, underpasses and green spaces in the residential Brownlow area before coming back to explore the retail area of Highfield. We finished off by lapping both lakes and returning to the leisure centre.

The tours covered some of the history, geography, engineering and thinking behind the creation of Craigavon and the Black Paths active travel network.

Keep an eye out for more tours this summer – in the meantime here’s a quick taste of our tour of the Black Paths.

Black Paths Project Launched

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.

 

 

Tullygally PS pupils take the plunge and ditch bus for bikes

Pupils at a school in Craigavon have been getting on their bikes in a unique initiative to improve their health, save money and protect the environment. Children from Tullygally Primary School have been cycling to and from swimming classes and sporting events instead of relying on the school bus.

Pupils at a school in Craigavon have been getting on their bikes in a unique initiative to improve their health, save money and protect the environment.

Children from Tullygally Primary School have been cycling to and from swimming classes and sporting events instead of relying on the school bus.
The change has been made under the guidance of Primary 7 teacher John O’Hagan, and with support from staff and parents.


Mr O’Hagan sourced funding to buy 30 refurbished bikes, helmets and a storage facility and the pupils have been using the network of lanes known locally as the ‘black paths’.

“Each bike and helmet is named after a different county on the island of Ireland so that pupils know which bike they have been getting used to riding,” he said.
“Some of the pupils weren’t confident at riding their bikes at first but when we loaned them out to pupils over a weekend it really helped them to improve their skills.”
Local Sustrans schools officer Dave Wiggins recently joined Mr O’Hagan and the pupils for a cycle to South Lakes Leisure Centre.
He said: “It was brilliant to see the pupils and teachers using bicycles to travel to the leisure centre instead of hiring a bus.
“It is a great opportunity for the pupils to explore their local area, get some fresh air, improve their health and develop their independent travel skills.

“Central Craigavon is a very busy area for traffic and projects like this help to reduce congestion and protect the air quality as much as possible.
“I don’t know of any other school where a whole class can use bicycles to travel for swimming lessons and other activities and the school should be highly commended for their effort.”
Tullygally Primary started working with Sustrans as part of the Active School Programme in 2014.

Minister Mallon funds Black Paths Mapping Project

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has allocated £85,000 for local road safety initiatives funded by the Department’s Road Safety (Safe Travel) Grant Scheme. Minister Mallon - Road Safety Grant Scheme. "I look forward to seeing the difference these initiatives will make…".

I am delighted today, during Road Safety Week, to announce that 15 groups and organisations from across Northern Ireland have been successful in securing funding totalling £85,000. I look forward to seeing the difference these initiatives will make in raising awareness in local communities of safe road user behaviour and promoting safe active travel.”

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has allocated £85,000 for local road safety initiatives funded by the Department’s Road Safety (Safe Travel) Grant Scheme. Minister Mallon - Road Safety Grant Scheme

Minister Mallon said:

  “As I confirmed when I launched the consultation on the draft Road Safety Strategy to 2030, road safety is a priority for me and I am committed to doing all I can to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads. We all share the roads and we all share responsibility for road safety.

I recognise the vital role the voluntary and community sector plays through delivery of community-led road safety initiatives. That is why I continue to support local groups and organisations to deliver local road safety initiatives through my Department’s Road Safety Grant Scheme. This funding enables powerful road safety messages to be delivered to the heart of communities addressing their specific road safety problems.

I am delighted today, during Road Safety Week, to announce that 15 groups and organisations from across Northern Ireland have been successful in securing funding totalling £85,000.  I look forward to seeing the difference these initiatives will make in raising awareness in local communities of safe road user behaviour and promoting safe active travel.

The Minister continued:

“Already this year 39 people have been killed on our roads and many families’ lives destroyed.  Road safety impacts on us all and we all must make better choices and safer decisions on every journey. One road death is one too many.”

CYCUL: have been awarded £9,077.00 for their project to map the “black paths”, produce a promotional web resource, create sharable GPS files, place the network on Google Street View and to hopefully increase the numbers of people using the Black Paths in the Craigavon area, for both leisure and utility purposes. Then to organise a group cycle for residents/business in the area to promote the Black Paths as an exemplar of an active travel network.

The Lost City of Craigavon

Newton Emerson’s celebratory and irreverent look at the lost city of Craigavon, unearthing the original plans, meeting the evicted farmers and visiting the residents of the experimental city. Warning – contains a lot of cycling.

In this BBC documentary from 2008, local lad Newton Emerson goes in search for the lost city of Craigavon and discovers why the reality fell short of the utopian dream.
This documentary no longer appears on the BBC iPlayer but can be found on YouTube.

 

Completion of £400k Craigavon Lakes Active Travel Improvement Scheme

Work on a £400,000 upgrade scheme to improve the shared footway and cycleway around the Craigavon Lakes has been substantially completed to enable it to be brought back into service ahead of the Christmas break.

Work on a £400,000 upgrade scheme to improve the shared footway and cycleway around the Craigavon Lakes has been substantially completed to enable it to be brought back into service ahead of the Christmas break.

The upgraded route provides an improved facility in the Craigavon area to encourage more walking, wheeling and cycling at this popular location.

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said:

  “This significant investment to upgrade 5km of footway and cycleway around the Craigavon Lakes will benefit all who use this leisure facility for walking, wheeling and cycling.

  I am delighted that this shared footway and cycleway will be available for use over the Christmas period and I would encourage users to enjoy this new improved footway and cycleway within the current Covid regulations, during this welcome break.

The improvement work involved the resurfacing and widening the existing shared footway and cycleway and associated drainage and signage. The Department liaised closely with Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council to facilitate the upgrade to the route. Some ancillary line marking and signs on the route will be completed early in the New Year.

More info…

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council – Active Travel Masterplan

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council have appointed Arup Consulting to prepare an Active Travel Masterplan for 2 key areas in the Borough. This project will be part of a greater Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Project funded by DfC and DfI.

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council have appointed Arup Consulting to prepare an Active Travel Masterplan for 2 key areas in the Borough:

  1. Portadown to Lurgan Greenway (Black Paths).
  2. Public Bicycle Parking for Armagh, Banbridge, Dromore, Portadown, Craigavon and Lurgan

This project will be part of a greater Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Project funded by DfC and DfI.
It is intended that this Active Travel Masterplan will be built upon and developed further in the future to include proposals for other areas in the borough.

A PDF of the Masterplan is available to view here.

This consultation closed on the 8th December, 2021