Analysis of Built Environment Factors on Walkability at Three Doha Metro Stations

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Submission Summary
The opening of the Doha Metro in 2019 has highlighted a perceived lack of connection between several stations of the new public transport system and their surrounding neighborhoods. Such connections are a crucial component for promoting walkability as an alternative mode of transport instead of private vehicles in a growing metropolis. The inability to walk or cycle to and around various Doha metro stations reduces transport mode choices for citizens, residents, and visitors alike while unintentionally undercutting the potential socioeconomic and cultural benefits of constructing the new Doha Metro in the near- and long term. Many factors contribute to people’s decisions for using public rail transit to move from one point to another in an urban network. However, the lack of a cohesive and integrated relationship between the built environment and the transport system is one of the major factors. It is fundamental for architects, urban designers, town planners, and policymakers to understand the design and planning factors that promote and deter pedestrian behavior in the urban environment. The research in this paper reviews the current state of our knowledge in the field, compiling a comprehensive list of twenty-five (25) design criteria using best practices in the world (Jacobs, 1961; Hess et al., 1999; Dijkstra & Timmermans, 2002; Clifton et al., 2007; Ewing & Handy, 2009; Kurose et al., 2009; Berrigan et al., 2010; Giles-Corti et al., 2011; Ozbil et al., 2011; Zhu & Timmermans, 2011; Speck, 2012, Gehl, 2013 and 2014; Guo & Loo, 2013; Montgomery 2013; Alfonzo et al., 2014; Kim et al., 2014; Hass-Klau, 2015; Krogstad et al. 2015; Newman & Kenworthy, 2015, Arup, 2016; Sun et al., 2017; Salaheldin, 2021). The study then focuses on eleven (11) of these criteria to investigate built environment factors on walkability at three different Doha Metro stations – Al Ziziyah, Hamad Hospital, and West Bay – representing a variety of neighborhoods in the city: a suburban mixed-use area near Villaggio Mall, an urban medical-office center associated with Hamad Medical City, and a predominantly high-rise business district area in West Bay, respectively. The criteria include sidewalks availability and continuity, street hierarchy/character, functional mix, building heights, block sizes, street/segment length, connectedness, permeability, pedestrian network, and voids. However, this analysis becomes greatly simplified since the last five criteria are primarily a function of the sixth. e.g., block sizes, which emphasizes morphological analysis in the study (Hillier, 1996; Major, 2015 and 2018). The paper also focuses this research on the pedestrian shed radius of 250 meters (m) from the station’s entrances due to the harsh, hot climatic conditions in Doha during most of the year. The paper concludes that there are significant problems for walkability in all three neighborhoods. Effectively resolving these issues in the Al Ziziyah and West Bay areas will require implementing structural development and planning solutions over the long term (10-20 years). In contrast, the issues in the Hamad Hospital area offer more opportunities for short-term design refinements and enhancements to promote walkability.
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5: Uniqueness and connectivity. Al-Baraha: unlocking urban futures
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Qatar University
Assistant Professor of Architecture and Urban Planning
Qatar University

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