Dubai: New and Improved?
ARA 02 - 25 - 2010

One of the most baffling things on this trip has been the transportation system in Dubai. In particular, I was dissapointed with the interaction of the subway system with the pedestrian walkways and accesibility of the city to a pedestrian. Any up and coming architect or engineer can tell you that cities are moving towards sustainability and walkability. They are working on making cars less of a necessity to move about the city, and bringing everything down to a human scale. So why is it that Dubai, a brand new city, is the least pedestrian friendly city yet? In Dubai everyone is driving to their front door in their car, and the pedestrian is left to use the round about to reach the entrance by foot. Sidewalks were few and far between, and you are only allowed to cross the street if you go to a crosswalk. The problem with this is that the crosswalks are infrequent and difficult to find. What Dubai does have is a very nice subway system with easy to spot entrances. Using the subway was a pleasant experience and was quick and on time. Here is the catch: once you get off that subway at your desired stop, you are still forced to walk sometimes several blocks on highway-side walkways. So where do they go from here? This is not so easy a question to answer. At this point the larger part of the city is complete, and, while dense, is still considered sprawl from a pedestrian stand-point. Based upon my experiences in Rome, I think that Dubai's only remaining home would be a bus system and or trolly system. Rome, a large city with numerous sites to see at all corners, has both a subway system and a bus and trolly system that work well together. We used both the bus and the trolly to get from place to place when the subway wasn't an option, and it proved to be a cheap and effective alternative. What is unique about this system as that it would have been added to Rome post city expansion in the last 100-150 years. The roads would have already existed, but because of the inaccessibility to pedestrians, the trolly and busses came about. Now Dubai is finding themselves in a similar situation and, based on its success in Rome, I believe that these two pedestrian alternatives would work well as a solution to Dubai's lack of pedestrian accesibility. I have observed that the Dubai residents or long term visitors have adapted to this environment where driving is a way of life, but in the long run Dubai will have much more success if they cater to the pedestrian as well. At this point in their development, based on my observations from Rome among other cities, their only realistic and uninavasive options are the trolly and the bus system. These systems could work harmoniously with their current subway system to make the city much more accessible to pedestrian tourists

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