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The 15-Minute City and Sustainable Transport: A Vision for the Future

The 15-Minute City and Sustainable Transport: A Vision for the Future

Sustainable transportation has received greater attention in recent years as a means of reducing the negative effects of transportation on the environment and fostering more livable and healthier communities. Many individuals think that as we attempt to address the issues of climate change and urbanisation, sustainable transportation will play a significant role in the future.

What do we mean by sustainability?

The idea of sustainability has developed over time and is now recognised to cover a variety of concepts. Sustainability originally meant using natural, renewable resources in a way that ensures their availability for present and future generations. The Brundtland Commission’s report, “Our Common Future,” defines sustainable development as growth that satisfies present demands without compromising the capacity of future generations to meet their requirements.

      Figure 1: Representation of what a Sustainable Transport focus city could look like

15-minute cities – a viable response to lower carbon emissions?

With cities all around the world attempting to lower their carbon emissions and enhance the quality of life for their residents, sustainable transportation is a subject that is becoming more and more essential. The idea of “15-minute cities,” where all essential daily services, such as grocery stores, schools, and healthcare facilities, are situated within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from each dwelling, is one strategy that has gained popularity in recent years. This strategy encourages active transportation while reducing dependency on cars, enhancing both public health and air quality.

Case Studies – Paris 

In Paris, Mayor Anne Hidalgo has incorporated it as a crucial part of her urban planning strategy. There came the idea of 15-minute cities first gained popularity. The idea is that people will be less likely to rely on automobiles for transportation if they can easily and conveniently reach the amenities and services they require in their own areas. This can promote active transportation, such as walking and biking, which offers several health advantages while also reducing traffic congestion and carbon emissions (Mair, 2020)
       Figure 2: Diagram of the 15-minute city movement in Paris

How would it work in the United Kingdom?

The way UK cities are built and constructed would need to undergo considerable adjustments in order to establish 15-minute cities. Many of these cities are currently built with the automobile in mind, with suburbs spreading out from the city centre and critical services frequently placed far from residential areas. Urban planners would need to emphasise bike and pedestrian infrastructure and take into account the requirements of all residents, including those who are unable to drive, to make the shift to 15-minute cities (Royal Town Planning Institute, 2021).
Investing in public transit networks that can replace cars is one approach to make it easier for the UK to implement 15-minute cities. This can entail investing in electric or low-emission buses as well as expanding and enhancing the bus and rail networks (Royal Town Planning Institute, 2021). By constructing designated bike lanes and pedestrian pathways as well as offering incentives for people to use these modes of transportation, cities might also aim to promote active transportation.
Making sure that all essential amenities are within a 15-minute walk or bike ride of each dwelling is a crucial component of adopting 15-minute cities in the UK. Rethinking land usage and promoting the growth of mixed-use neighbourhoods, where people may live, work, and access services, could be part of this strategy. It can also entail collaborating with local businesses and nonprofits to make sure that everyone in the neighbourhood has easy access to necessities like grocery stores and medical facilities (Town and Country Planning Association. 2021).
Overall, the idea of 15-minute cities can potentially change how cities are created and designed in the UK, supporting sustainable transportation and raising everyone’s standard of living. Although putting this concept into practice will need major adjustments and funding, the long-term advantages are probably worth the trouble.


By: Martin Joly


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