The 15-minute city is a popular concept that is attracting the attention of many cities in 2022. In brief, the concept puts the emphasis of urban development on local living that allows people to meet their daily needs within a 15-minute walk or bicycle ride from their homes. However, creating 15-minute cities is demanding. It needs to include new solutions for a range of aspects of urban living, such as workplace locations, housing, daily goods purchase, infrastructure, mobility services and new use models for public space. However, various cities in Europe have begun to introduce elements that are important in the context of delivering 15-minute cities.
For example, in the UK the London Borough of Newham is implementing a 15-minute neighbourhood programme focusing on shared spaces and connected neighbourhoods. Its urban regeneration aims to improve public space and to develop an urban environment for people. In its mobility projects, active travel corridors are placed alongside busy roads. Road traffic data, high street footfall and active travel data are used to demonstrate the impact and the return on the investment of the programme.
Paris is known as the cradle of the 15-minute city. A recent initiative in the French capital focuses on using micromobility to support active travel choices. The project placed 42 docking and charging stations around the city, which is to be extended to 150 more across the Rive Gauche district. The stations have been designed to cater for the most common e-bikes and e-scooters, whether or not the vehicle is private or part of a sharing service. Stations are located near public transport stops to allow micromobility to serve as an extension to public transport use, as well as enabling it to act as a standalone solution.
Helsinki is putting effort into developing its mobility infrastructure to meet the needs of active travellers. Its actions are backed by public opinion, since more than 90% of residents in the Finnish capital support the promotion of cycling, according to the city’s Cycling Barometer Study. Consequently, the city is working to create a coherent cycling network that also provides separate space for pedestrians and cyclists in order to provide the best possible safety conditions. The city is also creating facilities that meet the needs of its most vulnerable residents by developing its public transport system to ensure that those who cannot rely on active modes are able to travel around the city.
Various international initiatives, including the C40 network, together with Arup have published a guidebook for city authorities, developers and communities that includes examples of new and existing initiatives that help to deliver greener and more sustainable neighbourhoods and thus pave the way for the 15-minute city. It provides examples and identifies 10 main approaches for creating greener neighbourhoods, people-centred streets and space. C40 is also currently elaborating a proof of concept for 15-minute city policies within their ‘Green and Thriving Neighbourhood programme’, together with UN Habitat.
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Article published first at SmartCitiesWorld on 6 October 2022.