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.
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 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 road.cc 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.
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 road.cc 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.