93-km-long climate-controlled bike path to keep cyclists cool in Dubai
Think of cycling- and pedestrian-friendly cities and you'll likely come up with somewhere like Amsterdam or Utrecht, but perhaps Dubai will eventually be in the conversation too if an ambitious new proposal is realized. Named the Loop, it would consist of a 93-km (57-mile)-long enclosed bicycle and walking path that would offer respite from the harsh desert conditions.
The Loop was designed by local studio Urb, which is on a mission to improve Dubai's infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians, to the point that cycling and walking becomes the primary mode of transport for daily commutes for most of its residents.
This is clearly a big ask with Dubai's climate, which is often simply too hot to comfortably exercise outdoors. To address this, Urb envisions enclosing the bike/pedestrian path in a futuristic-looking glazed structure that would be raised above the ground on stilts and offer a climate-controlled interior. Clearly, keeping such a vast glazed space cool would require a lot of energy, which Urb says would come from renewable sources. Kinetic flooring is mentioned but perhaps solar power would also be a good fit given the local climate.
In addition to its areas for jogging, walking and cycling and related facilities, the Loop would also be packed with lots of greenery, with large numbers of plants and trees. There would be multiple pocket parks, sports facilities, and urban farming to improve the area's food production.
"The Loop is planned to connect more than 3 million residents using a healthy mode of transport, to key services and locations by walking and cycling within minutes," explained Urb's press release. "It will provide an enjoyable climate controlled all-year environment, to make walking and cycling the primary mode of transport for Dubai's residents, in line with its new 20-minute city initiative. The aim is to make cycling and walking the primary mode of transport for daily commutes for more than 80% of Dubai's residents by 2040."
An Urb representative told us that the project is currently in the research stage. It's such a huge undertaking that it's hard to envision it being realized, but this is the Middle East, where projects as audacious as the Burj Khalifa and even the Line can be considered feasible, so time will tell.
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Since it's already fairly well accepted that some very large regions of the world will become uninhabitable within decades because of global heating, enclosing the atmosphere around people is one obvious solution. Covered places are logical for protection from dust and sandstorms as well as from high temperatures, and would also retain the water vapour released by all of those plants and people to be recycled into pure water by the AC system in the usual way. I suspect that cities in those regions will become covered in a piecemeal fashion, a street here, a marketplace there, until it's the whole conurbation. Just my two penn'orth.