Introducing the 15-Minute City Concept

Transforming urban areas into vital city neighborhoods.

Feb 1, 2023
Introducing the 15-Minute City Concept | Transforming urban areas into vital city neighborhoods.

While urban trends tend to come and go, one recent idea has proven the test od time. The 15-minute city concept of developing walkable, mixed unit neighborhoods or city centers where people live, shop, and work in places that are nearby, is gaining ground, reported City Monitor.

While the term was first used in 2016 by Sorbonne professor Carlos Moreno, it really took off during the pandemic when people could not travel and having everything nearby was a necessity and a safety measure. This made building bike lanes, walking routes, and the idea of reframing the way cities are planned something that could no longer be postponed or ignored.

While cities historically grew up around trade centers, the advent of the automobile made suburbs – and long commutes – possible and city centers became places that people worked in and then returned home to their suburban lifestyles. The people left behind, faced an aging city without access to stores, pharmacies, parks, or a good quality or life.

What is the 15-minute city?
The concept sounds very simple, reported Forbes, if you live in a city, it should take less than 15 minutes for you to get to the supermarket, public park, or elementary school. The way to do it is to create neighborhoods or 15-minute circles where people’s needs are just a short walk or bike ride away.

This idea of hyper proximity, that Moreno developed, was a plan to disrupt the car-focused city model and to replace it with an approach that will lead to more sustainable and human-centric cities. The idea was endorsed by several global organizations including the UN and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.

Researchers from the University of New Zealand, looked at ways to accurately measure accessibility. They looked at 500 urban areas in the US and 43 in New Zealand. To help measure proximity to essential services, the researchers developed an interactive visualization tool.

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“Such data provides residents and policymakers with an enhanced understanding of how our communities perform thus allowing a better evaluation of future decisions and ability to monitor progress,” the researchers wrote in the study.

Cities that are implementing the concept
One city that took the 15-minute concept idea and ran with it is Paris France.  The famous city’s mayor Anne Hidalgo made it the key issue when she ran for re-election in 2020, reported undefined. She stressed that the school should be the “capital of the neighborhood” and open in the evenings to sports and cultural events.

Part of the plan included closing more than 100 streets to traffic, turning car parking into parks,  redistributing medical services, government offices, and other essential services with the priority of keeping it local.

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My project is about proximity, participation, collaboration. and ecology. In Paris we all feel we have no time; we are always rushing to one place or another, always trying to gain time. That is why I am convinced we need to transform the city so Parisians can learn, do sports, have healthcare, shop, within 15 minutes of their home,” Hidalgo said during her campaign.

Other cities have their own timetables according to City Monitor. Melbourne, Australia, is aiming for 10 minutes. while Glasgow, Scotland, Portland, Oregon, and Hamilton, New Zealand are looking at 20 minutes. The concept is revolutionizing how people view cities around the world and these changes are not just a passing trend.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.