The 15-minute cities

In recent years, we have seen the emergence of a new urban planning model: “The 15-Minute Cities”. This concept, first proposed by former Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, seeks to reduce the amount of time people spend commuting and travelling to access essential services and leisure activities in their community.

Cities are becoming more and more populated and it is a trend that, according to urban planners, will grow as time goes by. The math doesn’t lie: just two decades ago, more people lived in rural areas than in cities. Today, however, 56% of the world’s population lives in urban areas. The new trend is the 15-minute cities. Do you already know about them?

15-minute cities

Problems due to overpopulation concentrated in cities.

According to the UN, by the year 2050, more than two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. This population growth in large cities leads to rethink how to address new forms of urbanization.

The current situation exposes large cracks in planning, unjust social distribution and even problems of exclusion.

In addition, deficiencies are generated in public transportation and the consequent environmental pollution by the accumulated smog in large urban centers.

Sustainability and health are related to the 15-minute cities.

The idea of creating more sustainable and healthy cities is associated with 15-minute cities. This proposal includes an urban conception where all the inputs and services necessary for living are located no more than 15 minutes by foot or bicycle from where the person lives.

Until now, other types of solutions were sought, such as alternative fuels, or electric vehicles. This idea emerged in 2016, when Carlos Moreno, an urban planner and professor at Sorbonne University, made the proposal.

According to that idea, schools, medical services, stores, supermarkets, parks, gyms, cultural entities and restaurants should be only a 15-minute walk or bike ride from the home.

This includes the entire population of large or small urban centers. In this way, environmental pollution would decrease significantly.

All this requires a general rethinking within cities. According to Benjamin Bütner of the University of Munich, services must move towards people and not the other way around as is currently the case.

A very advantageous proposal

The idea was well accepted by mayors of many of the world’s major cities. It is not a question of creating new cities of proximity, but of adapting the current ones to this concept.

In this way, the issue of mobility is reduced, there would be no need to use vehicles or public transport. By the fact of having everything available 15 minutes away, you can go walking or cycling. Some results would be:

  • Pollution reduction.
  • Traffic jams are ended.
  • The problem of parking the automobile and also the spaces allocated for parking is ended.
Some cities are already 15 minutes

Several large cities are already operating under this new system, some raised to 20 minutes and others, lowered it to 10. Paris, Barcelona, Shanghai, Portland, are some of the 16 cities around the world that committed to this new concept. They have created new bike paths or recycled parking spaces to turn them into green areas. The idea is excellent and it is proven that it is possible to implement it.

Cities to this day were designed to increase productivity and commerce. It is time to think about the people who live in them, climate change and the environment.

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