The 15-Minute City—No Cars Required—Is Urban Planning’s New Utopia

The 15-Minute City—No Cars Required—Is Urban Planning’s New Utopia

From Bloomberg News

This article explores the concept of the 15-minute city, which pretty much means most everything you need in life — friends, work, stores, recreation, restaurants, etc. — is just 15 minutes away, preferably by walking, biking, or public transit. It’s quite an interesting article. I encourage you to give it a quick peruse, but if you’re short of time, here are a few highlights.

From Paris to Portland, cities are attempting to give residents
everything they need within a few minutes of their front doors.

Taken together, the new trees and cycleways, community
facilities and social housing, homes and workplaces all reflect a
potentially transformative vision for urban planners: the 15-minute
city. “The 15-minute city represents the possibility of a
decentralized city,” says Carlos Moreno, a scientific director and
professor specializing in complex systems and innovation at

At its heart is the concept of mixing urban social functions to create a vibrant vicinity”—replicated, like fractals, across an entire urban expanse.

As workplaces, stores, and homes are brought into closer proximity, street space previously dedicated to cars is freed up, eliminating pollution and making way for gardens, bike lanes, and sports and leisure facilities. All of this allows residents to bring their daily activities out of their homes (which in Paris tend to be small) and into welcoming, safe streets and squares.

Adie Tomer, a fellow at Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program and co-author of the report, says the 15-minute concept falls flat in America because “people in the U.S. already live in a 15-minute city, it’s just that they’re covering vast distances in a car.” Planners concerned with urban livability and rising carbon emissions might do well to focus on distance rather than time, he says. He suggests that the “3-mile city” might resonate better.

Amy Ginsburg


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