Living the 15 Minute City

The concept of a 15 or 20 minute city is central at Pedestrian Space as we are living it.

The concept of a 15 or 20 minute city is central at Pedestrian Space because we are currently living it. Within a 15-20 minute walk from our home we can reach all of the places and amenities listed below. The impact of this accessibility on our quality of life is practical and profound.

This list was crafted from our current location and experience and is not meant to convey a universal checklist. In other cities a train station, for example may be irrelevant whereas proximity to a ferry (or neither) more important. This list may of course differ based on areas and culture but most of these are generally seen as community basics and civic amenities and should be planned for as such.

Additionally, this list goes beyond what is important for the individual and is intended to reflect needs across the community.

Access to playgrounds may not count as important to people without children, while for families with young kids, they are often important community features. One may rarely go to the library and so not view access as a priority, but it is a civic good and a municipal asset, thus should be easily accessed by all.

Other amenities, such as hospitals, are more obvious as essential community amenities. While many residents of a town or city might rarely or only sometimes go to the hospital, for those working there as well as individuals needing regular medical care or emergency services, convenient access is critical.

Coming from a North American background where, in many cities, one is dependent on a car for the most basic of errands, my emphasis is on conveying that this concept of a 15 or 20 minute city is not only a possibility but a reality.

I have lived in a number of communities where this level of accessibility was not possible because the areas were so car-centric and lifestyles thus heavily car dependent. I have also worked in communities that, while technically walkable, lacked access to many of these amenities.

The ’15 minute city’ might be a new concept as an urban theory but it has long been a reality in many places. Part of what we are doing here at Pedestrian Space is exploring and documenting that.

Walkable neighborhoods and cities with access to amenities are not (and should never be) a feature of privilege but rather equity and common good. Such environments are a hallmark of a sustainable city and society.