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  • Eman AbdelSabour
Eman AbdelSabour
Politecnico di Milano
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Walking is not the only most basic, but also the most prevalent form of transportation in cities. A walkable environment yields health benefits, creates social value and promotes vibrant streets & livable cities. Designers and urban planners today are charged with the task of creating more humandriven spaces that can ultimately improve the quality of public urban spaces and attract more people to interact with them.
The present research examines the design of the walkability in  neighborhood level in Doha in terms of social sustainability, especially in Al Rayan neighborhood. Based on the relevant principles and indicators of social sustainability in neighborhoods both globally and locally, the research began with an evaluation of the dimensions of social sustainability by adopting a qualitative research method. The research tools included conducting face-to-face interviews with representatives of Qatari families living in old Rayan neighborhoods, analyses of the design patterns of some selected quarter, field observations and spatial syntactic analyses. Through this multi-phase analysis, a clearer understanding of the level of social sustainability achieved in the design for walkability for neighborhoods in Doah has been realized, and some neighborhood design guidelines have been proposed.


While the term ‘social sustainability’ is widely used, literature that focuses specifically on social sustainability is relatively limited, and exactly what the term means has not been very clearly defined (Dempsey et al. 2009). Social sustainability is generally defined as a wide-ranging, multi-dimensional concept that addresses the social goals of sustainable development. For an activity or development to be socially sustainable, it has to keep to specific social relations, customs and values while reducing social inequality, especially in terms of social exclusion, social discontinuity and destructive conflicts (Chiu 2004). The realization of socially sustainable neighborhoods is focused around meeting the principles of lifetime design including usability, adaptability, accessibility, inclusion and lifetime value (Saville-Smith 2008). The following section aims to reach a conceptual framework relevant to the case of the Doha through, first, identifying the principles and indicators of social sustainability in neighborhoods within the limited breadth of the most recent, relevant and comprehensive literature. Later, and based on these defined principles and indicators, a more DOha-relevant conceptual framework was developed. Community cohesion, which encourages social interaction and harmonious social relations among residents, has been classified by many scholars as a vital dimension for socially sustainable neighborhoods (Chiu 2004, Dempsey et al. 2009, McKenzie 2004). This necessitates an inclusive public realm that meets the needs of all sections of the community in addition to equity of access to the social and commercial infrastructure such as a child care facility, a primary school, green and high-quality public spaces and car-free regions (McKenzie 2004, Sperling 2006). These local activity centers should be structured as mixed-use centers supportive of public transport, walking and cycling in addition to having good car and service vehicle accesses. These centers generate a sense of place, which helps people to identify with their region and with each other and thus encourages residential stability (The Gisborne/New Gisborne Outline Development Plan 2007, Dempsey et al. 2009). On the other hand, integrating public open spaces into the neighborhood produces easily accessible parks and public open spaces, which attracts a high level of use and thus achieves a balance of social infrastructure between existing and new neighborhoods (Gisborne/New Gisborne Outline Development Plan 2007, Quinn 2008). These ‘friendly’ public open spaces include, for example, parks, restaurants with outdoor seating, public art or murals, attractive art in a private yard and bike paths. They should also be appropriate in terms of both quality and quantity (The Crossroads Resource Center 1999). The linkage of these spaces maximizes the importance of transportation infrastructure in neighborhood design as it provides accessibility to, from, and within the neighborhood. Transportation infrastructure should be designed to encourage the use of more sustainable modes of transportation through a complete street network that invites walking and bicycling and provides convenient access to public transit (Local Government Commission and US Environmental Protection Agency 2003, Engel-Yan et al. 2005, Sperling 2006). As mentioned above and as advocated by many scholars, walkable or pedestrianfriendly neighborhoods are advocated as a principle for socially sustainable neighborhoods (Engel-Yan et al. 2005, Dempsey et al. 2009). The interest in improved pedestrian environments has grown due to the desire to encourage non-motorized travel to reduce vehicle-miles and pollution emissions (Parks and Schofer 2006). David Logan (2004) maintains that when a community is built around walking, the place is much more likely to become a place ‘where everybody knows your name’ rather than possessing the anonymity that speeding cars and the big superstores encourage. The designs for a wellplanned network of walking and cycling routes allow people to travel safely and with ease whether on foot or bike (Gisborne/New Gisborne Outline Development Plan 2007)


Urbanism aims to address sustainable development by providing compact, socially and functionally mixed neighborhoods that are pedestrian-friendly at the local scale (Crane and Scweitzer, 2003, p238 ). in another word, the walkable sustainable environment at neighborhood scale is the purpose of the urban settlement. Yet, walking is not the primary transportation at neighborhood level at nowadays (Berg, 2016) because the walkable environment and walking for transportation is different. In another word, the extent to which the built environment is walking-friendly is different from reducing traffic congestion and improve air quality by walking as travelling methods (Reyer et al., 2014). On the other hand, in history before the industrial revolution from 1750 to 1850 town was built on the walking ability (Cocks, 2015). Nowadays,  many communities suffer from a lack of walking (Azmi and Karim, 2012).How we define “walkability” has enormous effect on our understanding and design of walkable streets and, hence the basis of our definition is important. By going through literature from different disciplines that deal with pedestrian behavior and preferences, there appears to be different opinions and approaches to define walkability and to evaluate the quality of the pedestrian environment.
Over the last 60 years, a large number of studies have been conducted in order to understand the design of transportation space for vehicular modes. Pedestrian transportation, however, is a much more recent addition to urban planning studies, yet it is still addressed with less seriousness (Lo, 2009). Walking is the most sustainable transportation (Cocks, 2016) as shown in  (fig 5). Which mean,  encouraging people who currently travel by car to shift to walking for short trips and  transit for long trips achieving the desired environmental benefits effectively  hinges on reducing auto trips (Crane and Scweitzer, 2003). However, The  sustainability should not be considered as a single concept “environment”, or  even as a consistent set of ideas, Rather it should be approach of  community-based thinking that integrate environmental, social and economic  issues in a long-term perspective, while remaining open to fundamental  differences about the way that is to be accomplished (Robinson, 2004). Therefore,  there are two goals of sustainable transport: preservative  environmental quality and public health across generations; and redressing the social inequality resulting from  transportation investments (Crane and Scweitzer, 2003). That is  clustered by Leyden (2003) shows that person who lives in walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods have higher levels of social  capital than less walkable neighbourhoods.  Furthermore, sustainability transportation debate goes further to touch environmental  impacts, policy, economy, equity, quality  of life, safety, security and health  (Department for Transport,  2007). Finally, walking as transportation is no longer a single factor to think  of, the planner should think of all the  factor that will be affected by which  kind of advocated type of transportation, and who will benefit from  it?           
Over the past few years Doha and other parts of Qatar have witnessed massive changes due a comprehensive development of the country’s road network and infrastructure. What is often forgotten is how such changes affect the population, especially when people’s needs are not taken into consideration. Nowadays, and because of high reliance on motor transport, less attention is given to the needs of pedestrians in urban environments. By reviewing several studies of walkability and understanding the perceptual qualities that measure a human’s satisfaction in a certain walkable area, this study can help encourage more urban planning studies in this part of the world. This can be done by first understanding what people really appreciate about walkable streets and second by giving designers and non-designers a reliable guidelines.


This research  study focuses on assessing the quality of walkable paths in the city of Doha by  understanding the human perception of different urban qualities and related  physical features. the study will conduct a historical definition of  walkability perception of Qatari locals. finally propose guidelines for urban  physical features to promote walkability in neighborhood context.          

Walkability and planning regulations in Qatar

Walkability is a rather vague concept that is endorsed by nearly all of us, despite lack of its precise qualitative and quantitative evaluation. In addition, as walkability is rarely defined in 98 operational terms, when attempting to develop policies and regulations, the concept proves rather challenging. In the early 2000s, Qatar started working on defining operationalizing the dimensions of public realms, including walkability. At this time, the department for Municipal and Urban Planning was formally established. Presently, macro-scale policy approach to city building and spatial planning in Doha is dominated by the expert international firms, with the contribution of local urban planning teams. As a result, the situation on the ground is significantly different and somewhat contradictory to the design plan. In order to consider the nature of realization of urban public spaces within the context of a wide range of city building settlements, a typology of new urban landscape should be outlined and discussed in relation to the city’s vision and should include the main micro units, such as the existing neighborhoods. The development plan of the new mega projects in Doha, such as Lusail City, The Pearl Qatar, and Msheireb downtown, also included a master plan study with guidelines for the public realms with consideration of walkability. However, these projects have not yet been integrated within the existing urban fabric of Doha, nor are there any considerations of the relation between existing built environment and the city’s morphology.

Qatari  walkability precipitation  

but cultural debat that Qatari locals do not want to walk 
Privacy is an essential factor in any residential environment, especially in the Qatar  and other Arab countries due to their social and cultural values. Relevant studies on privacy in housing in the region proved the importance of privacy as a principle for social sustainability (see for example Eben Saleh 1997, Djebarni and Al-Abed 2000, Opoku and Abdul-Muhmin 2010). Providing privacy on the neighborhood level requires careful design of the space hierarchies, the layout of the housing plots and the streetscape.
Also, hot weather is made walking more difficult due to the harsh subtropical climate, especially when long walks were required (Buys and Miller, 2011). Furthermore, the climate factor is not important in many  walkability studies due western environment, where the studies took place, this issue is extremely vital to urban sustainability from a global perspective, as so many of the world’s most rapidly developing urban regions are sited in the subtropical latitudes as shown in (fig1)  (O’Hare, 2006). This type of climate covers 12% of the Earth's land (Pidwirny, 2016), it has hot, dry summers, and cold rainy winter (Met Office, 2016) such as Qatar and Portugal  (fig1), which make the walkable, sustainable neighborhoods, even more, harder to achieve.