The Black Paths

We've developed a new website to promote the Black Paths in Craigavon and the active travel network between Portadown and Lurgan. Funded by the Department for Infrastructure's Road Safety (Safe Travel) Scheme, it aims to raise awareness of this unique network of cycle lanes and footpaths.

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.”

 

We spent the winter of 2021-22 researching and mapping the cycle network – known locally as the Black Paths – and developed a web resource with an active travel map, suggested routes to explore, Google map, news section and a history of the network.

We hope 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.

With the climate crisis, fuel prices edging toward £2 a litre, and everyone spending more time stuck in traffic – Craigavon is the only place in Northern Ireland (or Ireland) with its own alternative travel system. If the future of transport is active travel, Craigavon arrived there over 50 years ago.

You can learn more about the Black Paths by visiting https://blackpaths.org


 Quick facts

  • The Black Paths were designed and built over 50 years ago – predicting the increasing problem/danger of traffic and congestion.
  • Between Craigavon’s roundabouts, there are no footpaths alongside the roads, no pedestrians, no traffic lights or zebra crossings. That’s because there is a separate network for walkers and cyclists, running under and over the road network.
  • There are 6 large concrete bridges in the Craigavon area, spanning the roads and dual carriageways. None of them are for cars. They are all for pedestrians and cyclists.
  • There are over 40 underpasses for walkers and cyclists in the Craigavon area.
  • If you laid all the Black Paths end to end – you could run a marathon on them.
  • The Black Paths is the longest greenway in Northern Ireland.
  • The Black Paths are accessible for wheelchair users and mobility scooters.
  • Belfast has less than 4km of protected cycleways. Craigavon has almost 40km