A Cratloe man has won a national award for his work on walking and cycling routes. Richard Manton from the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway is the inaugural winner of the Environmental Sciences Association of Ireland (ESAI) Postgraduate Researcher of the Year Competition 2014.
Richard is in the write-up stages of his PhD, working on a multi-disciplinary project, entitled Route Selection and Design of Greenways: Guidance for the Irish National Cycle Network, which combines civil engineering and social science.
Many people recognise Ireland’s over reliance on the private car and a shift to walking and cycling has the potential to dramatically improve the environmental, economic and health implications of Irish transport.
“In the context of the unsustainability of Irish transport and restrictions on public space, a major shift to walking, cycling and public transport is needed. Although we need to curb car use and make our roads safer, the growing number of greenways represents a step in the right direction. Greenways are traffic-free routes for walking and cycling, often built along old railways or canal towpaths, and in 2014 alone there has been €17 million invested in greenways in 10 counties. My research proposes guidelines for the route selection and design of greenways to ensure environmentally-friendly, safe and cost-effective routes for all to enjoy,” Richard said.
A student of Dr Eoghan Clifford, Civil Engineering and Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, Richard says there is an absence of research on greenways in Ireland and a robust route selection and design process is required. He hopes to deliver a route selection tool which will rate route options and recommend preferred routes and connections.
According to Richard, “The route selection methodology and greenway design guidance will be a major asset to anyone involved in greenway planning, design or operation. It will be particularly useful for community campaign groups in designing and lobbying for greenways and for local authorities in assessing greenway proposals. An interactive website of Irish greenways, will promote this research and the use of greenways in Ireland, and will be launched in the coming weeks.”
The Environmental Sciences Association of Ireland (ESAI) is an association of professional individuals working in the environmental arena in Ireland. The membership is drawn from all sectors and disciplines, ranging from biology and ecology to engineering, hydrology and management.
Dr Martina Prendergast from the ESAI Council, who presented Richard with his award at a ceremony earlier this month, said, “Richard beat stiff competition from all universities and institutes of technology across the country, and from agencies such as Teagasc. The review panel were unanimous in their decision to award Richard the top prize as his work feeds directly into social policy development and decision making at local authority and regional level. His work is relevant to every member of the public.”
In February of this year, Richard Manton won the E3 prize for best presentation spanning Engineering, Energy and Environment at the ESAI’s annual conference, ENVIRON2014.
By Nicola Norless