Walking the superblocks: Street layout efficiency and the sikkak system in Abu Dhabi

Martin Scoppa, Khawla Bawazir, Khaled Alawadi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-369
Number of pages11
JournalSustainable Cities and Society
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Abu Dhabi's urbanism
  • Arab gulf cities
  • Aziqah
  • Sikka
  • Street connectivity
  • Sustainable urban form
  • Walkability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Transportation


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