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Dubai has announced a new 93km climate-controlled highway, designed for walking and cycling

Thursday, Februari 16, 2023

It was recently announced that Dubai will build a 93-kilometre long climate-controlled highway called “THE LOOP”. This is a part of the cities wider 20-minute city project.

Dubai aims to connect over 3 million residents using walking and cycling as the primary mode of transport. The initiative is part of the new 20-minute city project, aimed at giving residents access to key services and locations within minutes. Sustainable architecture firm, URB, stated that the new highway will provide a comfortable and enjoyable environment for walking and cycling throughout the year, with a goal to have more than 80% of Dubai's residents using these modes of transport for daily commutes by 2040.

The URB's 'THE LOOP' project is a smart cycling and walking infrastructure aimed at making Dubai the most connected city on earth by foot or bike. Although it is still in its research and development phase, it promises the energy needed to power the climate-control systems will be 100% renewable energy. This includes using kinetic power from the structure. The plants inside, including vertical farms, will use fully recycled water for irrigation. Beyond the food security of local farming the project will include additional amenities for residents, such as promoting health and wellbeing along with spaces for socializing. According to URB's CEO, Baharash Bagherian, 'THE LOOP' is the future of sustainable urban mobility infrastructures that are designed as spaces and utilities for people, providing leisure and community services.

Personal comments

I see this project a positive step towards reducing carbon emissions and increasing sustainability, especially as it reorients the city away from private vehicles. The construction of 'THE LOOP' project will provide a comfortable and enjoyable environment, in the harsh climate of the desert, for walking and cycling throughout the year. Ideally this will encourage people to adopt these modes of transport as daily commutes, rather than drive their own cars. Additionally, this appears to be a key part of the 20-minute city, which will reduce travel time for residents, making it easier for them to access important services, which in turn will improve the quality of life for the residents.

On the other hand, the lofty promises of ‘THE LOOP’ are at the moment just that, promises. Reworking a city as large as Dubai around walking and cycling when currently it is entirely car centric is a massive undertaking. Will people adapt to this plan? How much have the citizens of Dubai been involved in the design phase? If, or when, it is built, will people voluntarily give up their cars for walking and biking? How much energy and resources will it take? There are many unanswered questions. The built infrastructure is not easy, or cheap, to change, but this is at least a positive picture to aim for.

Written by Adeleh Mohammadi, 

RISE Mobility & Systems