Cities are the beating heart of our modern world, bustling with people, businesses, and industries. However, as cities grow in size and complexity, they become less sustainable, healthy, and safe. The 15-minute City is a concept that seeks to change this trend by creating more sustainable and livable urban environments.
What is the 15-Minute City?
The idea behind the 15-minute City is simple: design cities so that people can meet their daily needs within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from their homes. This means residents should have access to basic amenities, such as grocery stores, schools, healthcare facilities, and parks, within a short distance. By doing so, the 15-minute City aims to reduce the need for cars and improve the quality of life for residents.
Why is the 15-Minute City important?
The 15-minute City concept has gained traction recently, particularly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As lockdowns and social distancing measures forced people to stay closer to home, many cities realized the importance of creating local, walkable neighborhoods that provide easy access to essential services.
Benefits of the 15-Minute City
The 15-minute City promotes walking and cycling as a means of transportation, which has numerous health benefits. Regular physical activity can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. It also improves mental health and well-being, lessening stress and anxiety.
Reduced Need for Cars
According to the U.S. Bureau of Transporation, 52% of daily trips in the country are less than three miles. If the average commuting bike speed is 12 mph, how long would it take to travel three miles? Exactly 15-minutes!
This means that over 50% of our daily trips can be made with only a bike, reducing the need for cars in half and helping us decrease the carbon footprint of urban areas. This not only helps combat climate change but also improves air quality, which positively impacts public health.
In addition, fewer cars lead to less traffic congestion, a major problem in many cities worldwide. Providing residents with easy access to essential services reduces the need for long commutes and unnecessary trips, freeing up roads and reducing traffic jams. This has the potential to improve road safety and reduce the number of crashes on the streets.
More Equitable and Inclusive Cities
The 15-minute City has the potential to create more equitable and inclusive cities. By providing walkable access to essential services, the 15-minute City can help to reduce social inequalities and create more livable neighborhoods for all residents, regardless of their income or social status.
Many low-income families cannot afford a car. In today's sprawl, doing any daily activity is challenging and time-consuming. In a 15-minute city, low-income community members could meet their needs equally to others.
Better Land Use
The 15-minute City significantly reduces the need for parking lots, allowing for better land use. This can result in many benefits, including:
More green spaces
Parking lots can be transformed into public parks and green spaces, improving air quality, reducing the urban heat island effect, and providing opportunities for outdoor recreation.
More affordable housing
By reducing the need for parking lots, more land is available for housing development, which can help address the affordable housing crisis in many cities.
More walkable neighborhoods
By reducing the amount of space dedicated to parking lots, more space is available for sidewalks and bike lanes, creating more walkable and bikeable neighborhoods.
More vibrant commercial areas
With fewer parking lots, additional commercial development can create more vibrant and economically thriving neighborhoods.
Higher Tax Base
Denser cities generate more tax revenues per square mile due to the concentration of businesses and residents, leading to more funding for infrastructure, education, and other public services. Suburban neighborhoods have been subsidized by society for decades, which constrains city budgets, leading to failing infrastructure, government debt, and poorly performing government programs.
The 15-minute City is a powerful concept that has the potential to create more sustainable, healthier, and safer cities for a better future. By reducing the need for cars, improving air quality, reducing traffic congestion, and promoting equity, the 15-minute City is a vision for a more livable and vibrant urban environment. As cities worldwide continue to grow and evolve, the 15-minute City is a concept that should be at the forefront of urban planning and design.