“15 minute cities” and their potential locations and pros and cons in 2023:
The rise of the “15 minute city” has been gaining momentum in recent years. The core idea is that people should be able to meet most of their daily needs within a 15 minute walk or bike ride from home. This includes access to workplaces, housing, retail, healthcare, education, food, culture and entertainment, leisure, and green spaces.
Proponents argue that 15 minute cities lead to more livable, sustainable and equitable communities. They reduce traffic and pollution, encourage more walking and cycling, foster stronger local communities, and make cities more resilient in the face of challenges like climate change. However, there are also significant costs, trade-offs and complications to implementing 15 minute cities at scale.
In 2023, some of the cities poised to realize the 15 minute city vision include Paris, Barcelona, Melbourne, Portland (Oregon), and Amsterdam. These cities have committed to reducing car dependence, investing in public transit and bike lanes, improving walkability, and decentralized services. Paris aims to make the entire city carbon neutral by 2050 with dense, mixed-use neighborhoods where people can live, work, and play within a 15 minute radius.
Barcelona has launched “superblocks” that limit cars and make multi-acre areas of the city available for walking, socializing and recreation. Melbourne aims to become one of the world’s most liveable cities by 2030 with “20 minute neighborhoods” across the city. Portland has focused on transit-oriented development, bike lanes, and pedestrian pockets to enable short commutes. And Amsterdam continues to prioritize cycling, with a goal that half of all trips are by bike in 2025.
Proponents argue these 15 minute cities will reduce traffic and overcrowding, decrease emissions, make urban living more affordable and joyful, strengthen local businesses, improve public health, and create safer communities where people can thrive at every stage of life. However, there are also likely to be disruptions and downsides. Some people may face longer commutes or fewer job opportunities within a 15-minute radius. There could be impacts on retail, especially larger stores or businesses with regional appeal. Property values could decrease in some areas. And there may be issues of inequity if access to opportunities and amenities varies in different neighborhoods.
Transitioning cities to a 15 minute model at scale will not be easy and will require effort, funding, and policy changes. But if successful, 15 minute cities could reshape life in urban areas and lead to a future of cities that are healthier, greener, more vibrant and livable. The journey to a 15 minute city may not always be quick, but for many, the potential benefits will make it worthwhile.
What are some of the challenges that cities face when transitioning to a 15 minute model?
Here are some of the key challenges cities face in transitioning to a 15 minute model:
•Funding constraints. Making major changes to infrastructure, transportation systems, and land use policies requires significant funding which many cities struggle with. Transitioning to 15 minute cities can be costly.
•Inertia and resistance. Established systems, habits, and ways of doing things can be hard to change. There is often resistance to modifying long-standing policies, procedures, and patterns of development and transportation.
•Inequitable impacts. Access to opportunities and amenities may vary in different neighborhoods within a 15 minute radius. This could disproportionately benefit higher-income areas and further marginalize disadvantaged communities.
•Impact on local businesses. Some local businesses like larger retailers or regional attractions may face declining customer access or traffic. This could force some to close, relocate or downsize.
•Property value debates. While 15 minute cities aim to increase livability and affordability, they could potentially decrease property values in some areas, at least in the short-term. This may lead to opposition from homeowners and real estate interests.
•Limiting choice? A 15 minute model aims to restrict distance from opportunities, but this could also limit people’s choices and flexibility. Not everyone wants to have everything within a 15 minute radius.
•Differing priorities. Stakeholders like residents, businesses, developers, city planners, and politicians may have competing priorities for a city that don’t always align with the goals of a 15 minute city.
•Data and metrics challenges. It can be difficult to determine exactly how much of a city’s amenities and opportunities really need to be within a 15 minute trip. There are few agreed upon metrics for what constitutes a successful 15 minute city.
•Perception of reduced mobility. A focus on shorter trips and proximity could be perceived as limiting mobility options or freedom of movement by some. Not all trips and destinations may fit within a 15 minute radius.
Those are some of the most significant challenges, but also opportunities, that cities must grapple with in designing and implementing 15 minute communities. Transitioning an existing city is complex, but with commitment and compromise, these challenges can likely be addressed.
How can cities ensure that the transition to 15 minute cities is equitable?
Here are some key ways cities can help ensure an equitable transition to 15 minute cities:
•Conduct equity analyses. Conducting audits and analyses of current inequities, lack of access, and marginalized communities can help identify where to prioritize changes. Seek input from disadvantaged groups.
•Distribute benefits and burdens fairly. When making changes, consider how costs, impacts, and benefits are distributed across different communities. Avoid disproportionately burdening some areas or groups.
•Prioritize disadvantaged neighborhoods. Explicitly prioritize infrastructure, amenities and policy changes in low-income neighborhoods, communities of color, and other marginalized areas. Try to level the playing field.
•Improve access for all. Make sure that changes enhance access, mobility and proximity to opportunities for people of all incomes, abilities, races, and backgrounds. Not just for some groups or neighborhoods.
•Address displacement concerns. Be cognizant of the potential for increased gentrification and displacement of long-time, lower-income residents. Implement anti-displacement policies like affordable housing requirements, rent control, and tenant protections.
•Invest in job access and skills training. If jobs may be further from home in a 15 minute city, enhanced public transit, bike infrastructure and skills/job training programs can help address barriers to opportunity.
•Ensure inclusive design. Engage diverse communities in the planning and design process. Consider different perspectives, needs, and obstacles people face. Make sure infrastructure and spaces meet accessibility standards and accommodate different populations.
•Consider mobility options for all. While focusing on walking and biking, also maintain and improve public transit options that provide links beyond a 15 minute radius. This enables people to reach jobs, services and communities beyond their local area.
•Evaluate, monitor and make adjustments. Build evaluation and ongoing monitoring into the transition process. Ensure changes have the desired benefits and are not exacerbating inequities. Be willing to make incremental adjustments where needed to better achieve equitable and just outcomes.
With proactive efforts across these areas, cities can transform into more just, livable and sustainable 15 minute communities for all residents, not just some. Equity must be a key guiding principle throughout the transition.LikeDislikeShareTell me more.How can cities ensure that marginalized communities are included in the planning process?What are some examples of anti-displacement policies that cities can implement?How can cities ensure that the benefits of 15 minute cities are distributed fairly?
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How the dream of 15-minute cities was twisted into a nightmare
From an environmentally-forward approach to urban planning to misunderstood and maligned on the internet, how did this well-meaning concept get so twisted?
By Alex BoydStaff Reporter
Tue., March 7, 2023
For many urban planners, it felt like a no-brainer: Who wouldn’t want to live closer to their workplace, school or grocery store?
But in the past few months, the 15-minute city — in which, its proponents argue, all of your major services would be a mere 15-minute walk or bike ride from where you live — has gone from under the radar to online controversy.
“It’s this really positive idea of trying to make cities more livable,” says Tim Caulfield, a University of Alberta professor and misinformation expert.
Read the original story here: Inside one man’s battle against the 15-Minute City conspiracy theory
People online have begun to argue that the 15-minute idea is a way to create the infrastructure to lock people into their neighbourhoods.
“You can directly refute their claims,” Caulfield says. “People in Oxford have done that, people in Paris have done it, saying ‘We are not going to restrict people’s movements.’ It does not stop the conspiracy theory.”
The concept was coined in 2016 by a Franco-Colombian professor, Carlos Moreno, who argued that if everyone had more amenities in their neighbourhood, it would be better for both the environment and the people who lived there.
Yes, part of the plan was to reduce reliance on cars because, as Moreno wrote in a paper published in 2021, while cars had led to opportunities in mobility and trade, they’d also had “negative and severe impacts” on our social fabric, including more traffic, air pollution and fewer parks and local businesses.
The idea won awards, and was adopted by cities around the world, most notably, Paris.
Then came the pandemic, which saw many people spending more time in the own neighbourhood than they had before. Suddenly, advocates say, people realized how valuable it would be to know their neighbours and be able to shop and work close to home.
But the pandemic also further chipped away at trust in institutions such as government and media. When a few British cities proposed new walkability plans last fall, these ideas were seized on by people critical of public health restrictions who argued, without evidence, that they were laying the groundwork for future lockdowns.
15-Minute Cities – Edmonton’s Bold Plan for a Net-Zero City https://youtu.be/pzxsmAqMMH4 via @YouTube
To reduce carbon emissions and meet climate goals, politicians in Oxford are attempting to restrict the number of times some vehicles can drive through the city each year while still allowing unlimited access via the City’s ring road. The city also has a long-term plan to be a 15-minute city, where food, medicine, education, and leisure facilities are all within a 15-minute walk or cycle from someone’s front door. This plan has been conflated with its traffic-restriction trial by conspiracy theories that present the measures as a form of climate lockdown. Newsnight’s Science Correspondent Kate Lamble reports on how a conspiracy theory about “15-minute cities” became tangled with some people’s real concerns over the measures.
How ’15-minute cities’ became a lockdown conspiracy – BBC Newsnight https://youtu.be/g3nIXMA1j3E via @YouTube
Traffic is a growing problem in many U.S. cities. Instead of adding more streets to accommodate cars, a growing movement is pushing to ban them in dense areas like New York City. This would give more space for bike lanes, bus routes and pedestrian plazas while also reducing noise and air pollution.
Why Cities Are Banning Cars Around The World https://youtu.be/sCSkNiyYv8g via @YouTube
The 15-Minute City Explained | Jennifer Keesmat + Andre Brumfield + Pete… https://youtu.be/40j_zWb0lvc via @YouTube