The 15-Minute City: Revolutionizing Urban Planning or a Conspiracy Theory?
The concept of the 15-minute city, where residents can access everything they need within a short walk or bike ride from their homes, has gained global attention in recent years. However, the idea has also sparked backlash and conspiracy theories. In this article, we will explore the 15-minute city and its implications for urban planning.
What is the 15-minute city?
At its core, the 15-minute city is an urban planning concept that emphasizes walkability and accessibility. Advocates argue that a city should be organized so that residents can easily access their workplaces, schools, parks, healthcare facilities, shops, and restaurants within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from their homes. The idea is meant to create more cohesive communities, encourage physical activity, and reduce reliance on cars.
What are the objections?
Despite the benefits of the 15-minute city, some groups oppose the concept. Libertarians and conspiracy theorists see the idea as an attempt to control people’s movements and take away their cars and individual freedom. They view walkable neighborhoods as a step towards a “Great Reset” of society, where driving will be punished and restricted. However, proponents argue that mobility is a choice where basic needs are within walking distance, creating more individual freedom.
Do 15-minute cities already exist?
While many cities in Europe offer a version of the 15-minute city, Paris has become the poster child. Mayor Anne Hidalgo has prioritized walkability to reduce traffic congestion and fuel emissions, and the city has moved up the rankings of bike-friendly cities. Other cities such as Portland and Detroit in the US have also adopted the idea of 20-minute neighborhoods. Recent global events such as the pandemic have accelerated the adoption of the concept.
How feasible is this idea?
The 15-minute city is not a one-size-fits-all solution, as it may not work well in sprawling, car-dominated cities such as Los Angeles or Phoenix. Additionally, some urban planners argue that the concept could increase the segregation of neighborhoods by income and race. Each neighborhood would become an enclave or a ghetto as neighborhoods equipping all the amenities required by the 15-minute city tend to have higher housing costs and wealthier residents.
What is the concept’s future?
Despite the resistance, the core idea behind the 15-minute city is influencing planning decisions in many cities worldwide, including Melbourne, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Singapore, and Shanghai. While the concept is generating strong opposition, governments can promote walkability as a guiding principle for local leaders to apply in zoning or planning decisions. Cities with basic needs within walkable distances have shown to create more individual freedom as mobility becomes a choice, not a necessity.
The 15-minute city is an urban planning concept that emphasizes walkability and accessibility. While it may not be feasible in all cities, it encourages physical activity, reduces reliance on cars, and creates cohesive communities. Despite opposition, its adoption is on the rise globally.
– Carlos Moreno developed the modern iteration of the 15-minute city in 2010.
– The pandemic and remote work gave the 15-minute city concept a significant boost.
– Paris has become a poster child for the 15-minute city.
– Detroit’s 20-minute neighborhood plan was created in 2014.
– The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group released an agenda on building just and sustainable cities in 2020.
– Milan added 22 miles of bike lanes, while Montreal announced plans to add over 180 miles of pedestrian and cycling paths in response to the pandemic.
The 15-minute city is a promising urban planning concept praised for its potential benefits to residents and the environment. Despite backlash and resistance, its adoption is gaining traction worldwide. The success of the concept ultimately depends on considering its limitations and making necessary adjustments to fit the needs of each city.