The 15-minute City
Definitions of a 15-minute City: Laying Out the Boundaries

Hari Srinivas
Concept Note Series C-024

The 15 minute city is a concept that advocates for cities to be designed in a way that allows people to live, work, and play all within a 15 minute walk or bike ride. This urban design theory has gained popularity in recent years as a way to create more sustainable and livable cities. The 15-Minute City is a new urban planning concept that prioritizes pedestrian friendly neighborhoods. The goal is to create areas where people can walk or ride their bikes to most destinations within 15 minutes. This would reduce traffic and pollution, while also promoting healthy lifestyles. The 15 minute city is a urban planning concept that imagines cities in which all necessary destinations are within a 15 minute walk or bike ride. This would create more livable, sustainable, and healthy cities.
A 15 minute city is a city that requires minimal travel among houses, parks, office, restaurants, schools. Every essential amenity is within a 15 minute walk or cycle. Regardless of whether you live in the centre or in another neighbourhood, each neighbourhood fulfils six social functions: living, working, supplying, caring, learning and enjoying. Fifteen-minute cities are heavily based on attributes that have been used as design flagships in the past, namely accessibility, walkability, density, land use mix and design diversity. Some of the key features of 15-minute cities include compact, mixed-use development; pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly streets; and an emphasis on public transportation.
Integrated Neighborhoods: A 15-minute city is characterized by integrated neighborhoods that offer a diverse range of services and amenities within a short distance. It aims to create compact, mixed-use communities where residents can live, work, and access essential services like grocery stores, schools, healthcare facilities, parks, and public transportation, all within a 15-minute walk or bike ride. Reduced Dependency on Cars: In a 15-minute city, there is a focus on reducing the reliance on cars as the primary mode of transportation. By providing comprehensive local services, the concept encourages active transportation such as walking and cycling, making it easier for residents to reach their destinations quickly and conveniently without needing a car. Sustainable and Livable Communities: The 15-minute city concept emphasizes sustainability and livability by promoting shorter commute times, reducing traffic congestion, and minimizing environmental impact. It aims to create communities that are more socially inclusive, economically vibrant, and environmentally friendly, enabling residents to have a better quality of life and fostering a sense of community and connection within the neighborhood.

The boundaries of a 15-minute city is closely related to the definition of a "community" itself - which may use a number of factors such as railway stations, major streets and other geological and urban features to set its boundaries. These in effect become the limits of the 15-minute city as well - as illustrated in the figure above.

ANNEX: Pros and Cons of a 15-minute City Pros of 15-Minute Cities
  • Less air pollution from fewer cars on the road;
  • Better health from breathing less pollution;
  • Better health from walking, bicycling and being outside more;
  • Economic boost for small businesses;
  • Expanded community green spaces and other gathering places;
  • Better amenities, like streetlights, benches and bike paths;
  • Less traffic congestion and roads dominated by parked cars;
  • Greater community interaction, social cohesion and sustainability;
  • Increased safety from enhanced community connections;
  • Fewer greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Upgraded walking and cycling infrastructure;
  • Shorter commutes;
  • Reduced threat from contagious diseases, because stores are smaller and dotted about;
  • Greater community equity, as most 15-minute cities aim to make services available to people in all neighborhoods and income levels.

Cons of 15-Minute Cities

  • Requires well-thought-out planning in cities where people from different neighborhoods donft naturally interact;
  • Difficult for some residents and zoning boards to embrace in areas where previous urban planning separated residential areas from businesses;
  • Cost of retrofitting cities can be daunting for city officials.

Source: "Whatfs a 15-Minute City?" By Karuna EberlKaruna Eberl

Return to The 15-minute City