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Explaining the 15-Minute City

The "15-minute city" is a planning concept that has gained popularity in recent years, particularly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The concept proposes that cities should be designed and developed so that people can access all of their daily needs within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from their home. The idea is that by reducing the need for long commutes and increasing access to daily necessities, cities can become more livable, sustainable, and resilient.



The 15-minute city theory is rooted in the principles of sustainable urban development, including the reduction of carbon emissions, the promotion of active transportation, and the creation of vibrant, inclusive communities. Proponents of the concept argue that by reducing the need for car trips, cities can reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality, while also promoting physical activity and reducing healthcare costs.


The 15-minute city concept is not a new one, and its principles have been incorporated into many urban planning initiatives and policies around the world. For example, in Paris, Mayor Anne Hidalgo has made the 15-minute city a central part of her urban planning agenda, with initiatives such as the "Reinventing Paris" competition, which invited architects and planners to propose projects that would create a more sustainable and livable city.


Other cities around the world, including Melbourne, Vancouver, and Helsinki, have also embraced the 15-minute city concept, with initiatives such as the creation of "complete streets" that prioritize pedestrian and bike traffic over cars, the development of mixed-use neighborhoods that include housing, shops, and services, and the implementation of public transportation networks that provide frequent and reliable service.


The benefits of the 15-minute urban planning theory are numerous and have been widely discussed by urban planners and policymakers. Here are some of the key benefits:

  1. Promotes physical activity: The 15-minute city encourages walking and cycling as a means of transportation, which can promote physical activity and reduce the risk of obesity and other health problems.

  2. Reduces carbon emissions: By reducing the need for car trips, the 15-minute city can help reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change.

  3. Improves air quality: Fewer cars on the road can lead to improved air quality, reducing the risk of respiratory problems and other health issues associated with poor air quality.

  4. Enhances social interaction: The 15-minute city creates more opportunities for people to interact with each other, fostering a sense of community and reducing social isolation.

  5. Improves access to services: When all necessary services are located within a 15-minute walk or bike ride, it improves access to essential services such as healthcare, education, and groceries.

  6. Reduces traffic congestion: By reducing the number of cars on the road, the 15-minute city can help reduce traffic congestion, making it easier for people to get around and reducing the time they spend commuting.

  7. Increases economic activity: By promoting more walking and cycling, the 15-minute city can increase foot traffic to local businesses, boosting economic activity in neighborhoods.

  8. Increases affordability: The 15-minute city can help reduce transportation costs for residents, making it easier for them to afford housing and other necessities.

While the 15-minute urban planning theory has many benefits, there are also some potential downsides that should be considered:

  1. Limited access to amenities: While the 15-minute city aims to provide all necessary amenities within a 15-minute walk or bike ride, it may not be feasible in all areas. Some neighborhoods may not have the population density or infrastructure to support a full range of amenities within walking distance.

  2. Higher housing costs: Housing in areas with good access to amenities may be more expensive, which could lead to displacement of lower-income residents.

  3. Reduced mobility: The 15-minute city may not be suitable for people with limited mobility, such as elderly or disabled residents, who may require access to transportation beyond walking or biking.

  4. Increased traffic congestion: If more people start walking and biking, there could be increased pressure on roads and infrastructure, which could lead to more traffic congestion.

  5. Limited job opportunities: Some jobs, particularly those in specialized industries or corporate offices, may not be located within a 15-minute commute of all neighborhoods, limiting job opportunities for residents.

  6. Potential for gentrification: The 15-minute city could lead to gentrification of certain neighborhoods, as wealthier residents are attracted to areas with good access to amenities, leading to rising housing costs and displacement of lower-income residents.

Overall, the 15-minute city theory promotes a more sustainable, livable, and inclusive urban environment that can benefit both residents and the wider community. However, it is important to consider the potential downsides and to ensure that planning and implementation are done in a way that is inclusive and sustainable for all residents.


The 15-minute city concept is a planning concept that proposes that cities should be designed and developed so that people can access all of their daily needs within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from their home. It's rooted in the principles of sustainable urban development and has gained popularity in recent years as a way to create more livable, sustainable, and resilient cities.


  1. C40 Cities. (2020). The 15-minute city: A toolkit for creating inclusive, safe, and accessible neighborhoods. https://www.c40.org/researches/the-15-minute-city-a-toolkit-for-creating-inclusive-safe-and-accessible-neighbourhoods

  2. Gehl, J. (2010). Cities for people. Island Press.

  3. Hidalgo, A. (2020). Cities after COVID-19: The case for the 15-minute city. World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/07/cities-after-covid-19-the-case-for-the-15-minute-city/

  4. KPMG. (2020). The 15-minute city: Liveable, green, and efficient urban development. https://assets.kpmg/content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2020/10/the-15-minute-city.pdf

  5. Melbourne City Council. (2021). The 20-minute neighbourhood: An introduction. https://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/about-melbourne/sustainability/Pages/20-minute-neighbourhood.aspx

  6. City of Vancouver. (2021). Healthy city strategy. https://vancouver.ca/people-programs/healthy-city-strategy.aspx

  7. City of Helsinki. (2021). Helsinki's city plan 2016. https://www.hel.fi/helsinki/en/housing/city-plan-2016/

  8. Duranton, G. (2020). The risks of the 15-minute city. Bloomberg CityLab. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-16/the-risks-of-the-15-minute-city

  9. Florida, R. (2020). The downside of the 15-minute city. Bloomberg CityLab. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-30/the-downside-of-the-15-minute-city

  10. Graham, S. (2021). The 15-minute city: What does the evidence show? Cities Today. https://cities-today.com/the-15-minute-city-what-does-the-evidence-show/

  11. International Transport Forum. (2020). The 15-minute city: Is it possible, or desirable? https://www.itf-oecd.org/sites/default/files/docs/15-minute-city.pdf

  12. Kerswill, A. (2020). The 15-minute city: A buzzword with unintended consequences. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2020/oct/05/the-15-minute-city-a-buzzword-with-unintended-consequences

  13. Rogers, S. (2020). The 15-minute city: Is it really possible to create a fully-functioning neighbourhood in just a quarter of an hour? The Independent. https://www.independent.co.uk/property/house-and-home/the-15minute-city-paris-london-housing-market-accessibility-sustainability-a9609781.html

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