A Sustainable 93km Cycling Highway Designed for Dubai

By Monica Buck

It’s called THE LOOP and it aims to connect more than three million residents to key services and locations by walking and cycling.

The 93-kilometre air-conditioned path is designed by architecture studio Urb. And it supports the ambition for Dubai to become a 20-minute city, a metropolis where residents can access daily needs within 20 minutes by foot or bicycle. The UAE metropolis strives to become the world’s most liveable city and has launched a 2040 urban masterplan where urban mobility plays a key role.

If built, THE LOOP would become a mixed-use attraction. It would feature fitness and sports courts, wellness hotels and many vertical farms as well.

One of the most interesting things about THE LOOP is its sustainability. Apart from other things, it is planned to generate electricity using human footsteps. If built, the running tracks are to be integrated with kinetic paving, which draws usable energy from every footstep. The technology works with electromagnetic induction generators which are vertically displaced by the weight of a person’s footstep. That displacement motion creates the energy. It is then fed to generators as usable electricity. They do not mention if the same technology would be used on the cycleways.

“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% 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.

The LOOP, Dubai
The world’s longest cycle route. © URB, Profimedia

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

Bagherian goes on to explain there is currently a big gap in the connections between cycling and public urban transport in Dubai. The more the two are integrated, the easier it will become for Dubai’s residents to combine cycling and public transport on their daily commutes over a long distance. They claim THE LOOP represents the paradigm shift towards people-centred cities.

It is definitely an interesting concept, and one more than fitting for a place like Dubai. What do you think?