Editor’s Notes: 15-Minute City Reality

When we first moved to this medium-sized city in the heart of Sweden four years ago, I remember quickly remarking on how incredibly walkable our life had become.

From our early days of living here, I noticed how everything we needed was within a 10-15 minute walk including my kid’s school, health clinic and hospital, multiple grocery stores, shops, green spaces and nature areas, playgrounds and more. 

The suburbs also are within well-connected walking or cycling distance to the city center and most suburbs also have their own range of amenities like health clinics, schools, libraries, etc. I barely used public transport anymore (though an efficient local bus system exists).

This aspect of connectivity made our daily life and movement incredibly practical. A couple of years later, hearing about the 15-minute city as a concept, I thought “Aha! Yes, that’s precisely what we have been experiencing here!”

In fact, I have experienced it in other Scandinavian cities as well and observe that this concept is integral to the development and planning of many communities and cities in the Nordics. 

I have been following a lot of coverage of the 15-minute city concept and what I find remarkable is how it is “marketed” and discussed as a novel idea with little to no reference to numerous actual cities that, through years of common sense planning, are actually fantastic, real-life examples of 15 & 20-minute cities. 

Many cities may aspire to a 15-minute city model and can take actual inspiration from such places. There are places that have executed this concept & executed it well and it’s instructive to learn from their history of planning.

At Pedestrian Space, we value a sense of humility in learning and taking copious notes.  This is exactly what we are doing in our current city of residence. This has also led to our first City Mobility Survey in which we survey fellow residents about their view of this city as a “15 minute city”, distance to amenities & more. 

On our last Summer living in Nordics, we continue to view the city we inhabit as a laboratory to document walkability, connectivity and the 15 minute city as a reality.

Annika, Editor & Founder at Pedestrian Space