Walking the Superblocks: Street Layout Efficiency and the Sikkak System in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi managed its fast paced growth using a clear planning and design strategy: a grid of arterial roads defining superblocks. However, it is not clear how well-connected these superblocks’ street networks are and what their potential is for accommodating walking trips. This paper analyses the walkability of ten superblocks and the role of “sikkak”, narrow alleyways between plots, in providing efficient and direct pedestrian routes within superblocks. Efficiency is quantified using Pedestrian Route Directness, a measure which captures the ability of the layout to provide direct routes between origins and destinations. Results indicate that sikkak make remarkable contributions to the efficiency of superblocks’ street networks. However, the analysis also reveals that the number of sikkak can be significantly reduced without substantially affecting network efficiency. Results contribute to urban design theory and to policy making. In case of the former, the study of typical superblocks’ street layouts with sikkak clarifies their ability to facilitate pedestrian movement, adding to the discussion on the design of urban street grids. In case of the latter, this study could assist current urban design in the context of the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf Cooperation Council, particularly in regards to the provision of sikkak in new developments and the management of existing ones


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  • Accession Number: 01670953
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 29 2018 4:05PM