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93km air conditioned covered cycleway proposed for Dubai

Concept would tie in with Gulf state’s 20-minute city plans and include pocket parks and vertical farms

A ​93km air conditioned covered cycleway has been proposed for Dubai, with the planning firm behind the idea claiming it could make cycling and walking the main mode of transport for 80 per cent of the city’s 3 million residents by 2040.

It’s an ambitious aim, but Urb, the firm that has come up with the idea, believes that the infrastructure, which it has called The Loop, can help integrate cycling into Dubai’s public transport system as well as helping Dubai realise its 20-minute city ambition, enabling people to access shops and services on foot or by bike close to their homes.

Billed as “the world’s smartest cycling and walking infrastructure,” Urb claims that the project would represent “a paradigm shift from car-centric infrastructure to people-centric infrastructure.”

The firm also says that The Loop could help Dubai overcome problems associated with traffic congestion and noise and air pollution as well as providing safe active travel infrastructure, but acknowledges that it would take a “seismic shift in urban planning” to move Dubai away from its current car dependency.

The Loop 01 (picture credit Urb)

Baharash Bagherian, CEO of Urb, said: “Dubai is the best place for entrepreneurship in urban mobility. The Loop project is an embodiment of that entrepreneurial spirit, which aims to make Dubai the most connected city on earth by foot or bike.

“In Europe most people ride bicycles or walk to get to work. In Dubai, our aim is to get more than 80 per cent of people to use a bike on a daily basis.

“Dubai is currently primarily built for car travel. It’s major road infrastructures and networks have disconnected communities by walking or cycling, thus we need an entrepreneurial mindset in reconnecting these neighbourhoods, whilst making cycling or walking the primary mode of transport all year round to any part of the city.”

Urb says that The Loop would tie in with the Dubai 2040 urban masterplan by connecting neighbourhoods and shared amenities, and would include leisure facilities such as sports courts, as well as having an emphasis on promoting healthy lifestyles for example through wellness hotels and health centres.

The Loop 03 (picture credit Urb)

The project’s green credentials extend to the facility also having pocket parks, allotments, and vertical farms – the latter, according to Urb, aimed at providing food security for Dubai.

It will also produce renewable energy through kinetic pavements made from recycled car tyres harnessing the energy from the footsteps of people running or walking there, and through an app it will provide rewards to regular users based on how often they walk or cycle there.

“Our aim is to re-engineer the future mobility infrastructure in Dubai to become more than sustainable transport systems,” Bagherian said.

“To think of such infrastructures as much as spaces and utilities for people, where various leisure and community services can also be provided.

“These types of infrastructures should be an enjoyable mode of sustainable transport, no matter the weather conditions,” he added.

It should be stressed of course that at this stage, The Loop is a conceptual design, and we’ve reported on many of those here on that have never seen the light of day, such as a proposal, subsequently championed by the architect Lord Foster, to run suspended cycleways alongside railway viaducts in London – although typically, such schemes tend to fade into obscurity once the initial fanfare has died down.

> Lord Foster takes on plans for London SkyCycle with 135 miles of elevated safe cyclist routes

The Gulf however is a different matter – and if The Loop gets the backing of Dubai’s ruling family, who’s to say it won’t one day transition from the drawing board into reality?

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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jh2727 | 10 months ago

I'm confused as to why there are two cycle carriageways, each with a fairly narrow lane in both direction.  Surely it would be better to give each carriageway two lanes in one direction, with the carriageways going in opposite directions.

Why are there two people walking with their cycles in the cycleway?

Why is there foliage obscuring visiblity where people will need to cross - why not put the cycle parking there and give pedestrians and cyclists better visibility?

Why is there a seating area directly adjacent to the cycleway?

Neilo23 | 10 months ago
1 like

I don't know where the representative got the information from that most Europeans cycle to work. The traffic jams every day on Germany's motorways tells another story. 

chrisonatrike replied to Neilo23 | 10 months ago

Yeah, and their "80% to use a bike on a daily basis" sounds bonkers at best, given the Dutch high in some places of around 40%+ modal share (by trip) *. Unless the enlightened liberal rulers exercise their powers and entirely ban motor vehicles...

TBH I didn't take any of this seriously. Wikipedia suggests that only 5% of their revenue comes *directly* from oil and gas (main economic activities are construction / real estate, trade, entrepôt, financial services apparently - presumably luxury tourism features too). I'd still say the entire current form of Dubai is a monument to the excesses of fossil fuel wealth and unsustainable energy use / development in particular.

* NL is no less immune from hype than elsewhere but Zwolle / Groningen seem consistent with this number.

Calc | 10 months ago

The huge amount of aluminium used in the glazing frames would obviate the supposed green benefits.

levestane | 10 months ago

The ecosphere impact assessment for the football world cup was pure greenwash, can we trust this to be any better?

alan sherman | 10 months ago

Build a greenhouse so it can be air conditioned. Build a loop rather than direct links to places. Then the mention of kinetic pavements.

It's not April 1st already is it?

mrmusette | 10 months ago

"Oh no Ahmed I'm running late for my 3 O'clock porta potty!"
"Don't worry Khalil, you can take the SL7, you'll be there in no time."

hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
1 like

Isn't that just copying the Eden Project?

chrisonatrike replied to hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
1 like

"Eden project" - somewhere in the Middle East?  A likely story... you're leading us up the garden path.

It won't last - someone will always try to take advantage and then everyone will get kicked out.

brooksby | 10 months ago
1 like

Dubai?  Isn't that where all those incredibly wealthy cyclists actually live, that the Tottenham Tories are so concerned about...?

PRSboy | 10 months ago

Looking like a real-life Watopia!

The beauty of Dubai is the abundant solar energy that could power this project.

Rich_cb replied to PRSboy | 10 months ago

But won't.

Paul J | 10 months ago

The more people we can get on bicycles, the better in the fight against global warming.

Beatnik69 replied to Paul J | 10 months ago

Only if they use renewable energy. Solar won't be in short supply, but will they use it, or will they be happy to burn oil?


also, "In Europe most people ride bicycles or walk to get to work. In Dubai, our aim is to get more than 80 per cent of people to use a bike on a daily basis." 

Paul J replied to Beatnik69 | 9 months ago

A giant green-house (how much CO2 in the materials for that?) in a hot desert. The emiratis will of course air-condition the bejaysus out of it - with hydrocarbon energy no doubt.

It'll be so green though!

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