15-minute city

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Street scene in Paris
People walking and cycling in Paris, France. The concept of 15-minute cities gained traction after being advocated by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo.[1]

The 15-minute city (FMC or 15mC[2][3][4][5][6][7]) is an urban planning concept in which most daily necessities and services, such as work, shopping, education, healthcare, and leisure can be easily reached by a 15-minute walk, bike ride, or public transit ride from any point in the city.[8] This approach aims to reduce car dependency, promote healthy and sustainable living, and improve wellbeing and quality of life for city dwellers.[9]

Implementing the 15-minute city concept requires a multi-disciplinary approach, involving transportation planning, urban design, and policymaking, to create well-designed public spaces, pedestrian-friendly streets, and mixed-use development. This change in lifestyle may include remote working which reduces daily commuting and is supported by the recent widespread availability of information and communications technology. The concept has been described as a "return to a local way of life".[10]

The concept's roots can be traced to pre-modern urban planning traditions where walkability and community living were the primary focus before the advent of street networks and automobiles. In recent times, it builds upon similar pedestrian-centered principles found in New Urbanism, transit-oriented development, and other proposals that promote walkability, mixed-use developments, and compact, livable communities.[2] Numerous models have been proposed about how the concept can be implemented, such as 15-minute cities being built from a series of smaller 5-minute neighborhoods, also known as complete communities or walkable neighborhoods.[8]

The concept gained significant traction in recent years after Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo included a plan to implement the 15-minute city concept during her 2020 re-election campaign.[1] Since then, a number of cities worldwide have adopted the same goal and many researchers have used the 15-minute model as a spatial analysis tool to evaluate accessibility levels within the urban fabric.[2][8][11]

In early 2023, conspiracy theories emerged that described 15-minute cities as instruments of government repression.[12][13][14][15]


The 15-minute city was influenced by cities such as Paris, in which a range of amenities tend to be within walking distance.

The 15-minute city concept is derived from historical ideas about proximity and walkability, such as Clarence Perry's neighborhood unit. As an inspiration for the 15-minute city, Carlos Moreno, an advisor to Anne Hidalgo, cited Jane Jacobs's model presented in The Death and Life of Great American Cities.[16][17][18]

The ongoing climate crisis and global COVID-19 pandemic have prompted a heightened focus on the 15-minute city concept.[17] In July 2020, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group published a framework for cities to "build back better" using the 15-minute concept, referring specifically to plans implemented in Milan, Madrid, Edinburgh, and Seattle after COVID-19 outbreaks.[19] Their report highlights the importance of inclusive community engagement through mechanisms like participatory budgeting and adjusting city plans and infrastructure to encourage dense, complete, overall communities.[19]

A manifesto published in Barcelona in April 2020 proposed radical change in the organization of cities in the wake of COVID-19, and was signed by 160 academics and 300 architects. The proposal has four key elements: reorganization of mobility, (re)naturalization of the city, de-commodification of housing, and de-growth.[20][21][22]

Research models[edit]

The 15-minute city is a proposal for developing a polycentric city, where density is made pleasant, one's proximity is vibrant, and social intensity (a large number of productive, intricately linked social ties) is real.[17][23][24][25] The key element of the model has been described by Carlos Moreno as "chrono-urbanism" or a refocus of interest on time value rather than time cost.[17][26]

Moreno and the 15-minute city[edit]

Urbanist Carlos Moreno's 2021 article introduced the 15-minute city concept as a way to ensure that urban residents can fulfill six essential functions within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from their dwellings: living, working, commerce, healthcare, education and entertainment.[17] The framework of this model has four components; density, proximity, diversity and digitalization.[17]

Moreno cites the work of Nikos Salingaros, who theorizes that an optimal density for urban development exists which would encourage local solutions to local problems.[17][27] The authors discuss proximity in terms of both space and time, arguing that a 15-minute city would reduce the space and time necessary for activity.[17] Diversity in this 15-minute city model refers to mixed-use development and multicultural neighborhoods, both of which Moreno and others argue would improve the urban experience and boost community participation in the planning process. Digitalization is a key aspect of the 15-minute city derived from smart cities. Moreno and others argue that a Fourth Industrial Revolution has reduced the need for commuting because of access to technology like virtual communication and online shopping. They conclude by stating that these four components, when implemented at scale, would form an accessible city with a high quality of life.[17]

Larson and the 20-minute city[edit]

Kent Larson described the concept of a 20-minute city in a 2012 TED talk,[28] and his City Science Group at the MIT Media Lab has developed a neighborhood simulation platform[29] to integrate the necessary design, technology, and policy interventions into "compact urban cells". In his "On Cities" masterclass for the Norman Foster Foundation,[30] Larson proposed that the planet is becoming a network of cities, and that successful cities in the future will evolve into a network of high-performance, resilient, entrepreneurial communities.[31][time needed]

D'Acci and the one-mile city[edit]

In 2013, Luca D'Acci (Associate Professor in Urban Studies at the Polytechnic University of Turin, Italy) proposed a city model "where each point can reach continuous natural areas, job locations, centralities, shops, amenities (recreational, medical, cultural), usual daily activities by 15/30 minute walking or within 15 minute biking".[32][33] He called it a "one-mile green city", or "Isobenefit Urbanism".[34][35][36] (The term "isobenefit" is a portmanteau word from "iso" meaning equal, and "benefit", which he defines as advantageous amenities, services, workplaces and green space.)

Weng and the 15-minute walkable neighborhood[edit]

In a 2019 article using Shanghai as a case study, Weng and his colleagues proposed the 15-minute walkable neighborhood with a focus on health, and specifically non-communicable diseases.[8] The authors suggest that the 15-minute walkable neighborhood is a way to improve the health of residents, and they document existing disparities in walkability within Shanghai. They found that rural areas, on average, are significantly less walkable, and areas with low walkability tend to have a higher proportion of children.[8] Compared to Moreno et al., the authors focused more on the health benefits of walking and differences in walkability and usage across age groups.[17][8]

Da Silva and the 20-minute city[edit]

In their 2019 article, Da Silva et al. cite Tempe, Arizona, as a case study of an urban space where all needs could be met within 20 minutes by walking, biking, or transit. The authors found that Tempe is highly accessible, especially by bike, but that accessibility varies with geographic area. Compared to Moreno et al., the authors focused more on accessibility within the built environment.[37]



In 2019, Singapore's Land Transport Authority proposed a master plan that included the goals of "20-minute towns" and a "45-minute city" by 2040.[38]

Israel has embraced the concept of a 15-minute city in new residential developments. According to Orli Ronen, the head of the Urban Innovation and Sustainability Lab at the Porter School for Environmental Studies at Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beersheba, and central Jerusalem have been effective in delivering on the concept at least in part in new developments, but only Tel Aviv has been relatively successful.[39]

Dubai launched the 20-minute city project in 2022, where residents are able to access daily needs & destinations within 20 minutes by foot or bicycle.[40] The plan involves placing 55% of the residents within 800 meters of mass transit stations, allowing them to reach 80% of their daily needs and destinations.[41]

In the Philippine's largest city, the government of Quezon City announced in 2023 its plans to implement the 15-minute city concept to establish a walkable, people-friendly, and sustainable community for its residents. Influenced by the city of Paris, the government aims to make urban development people-centered and to further reach the city's goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.[42][43]


The 2016 Master Plan for Shanghai called for "15-minute community life circles", where residents could complete all of their daily activities within 15 minutes of walking. The community life circle has been implemented in other Chinese cities, like Baoding and Guangzhou.[44]

The Standard for urban residential area planning and design (GB 50180–2018), a national standard that came into effect in 2018, stipulates four levels of residential areas: 15-min pedestrian-scale neighborhood, 10-min pedestrian-scale neighborhood, 5-min pedestrian-scale neighborhood, and a neighborhood block. Among them, "15-min pedestrian-scale neighborhood" means "residential area divided according to the principle that residents can meet their material, living and cultural demand by walking for 15 minutes; usually surrounded by urban trunk roads or site boundaries, with a population of 50,000 to 100,000 people (about 17,000 to 32,000 households) and complete supporting facilities."

Chengdu, to combat urban sprawl, commissioned the "Great City" plan, where development on the edges of the city would be dense enough to support all necessary services within a 15-minute walk.[45]


Example of bike lane in Paris

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, introduced the 15-minute city concept in her 2020 re-election campaign and began implementing it during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, school playgrounds were converted to parks after school hours, while the Place de la Bastille and other squares have been revamped with trees and bicycle lanes.[10]

Cagliari, a city on the Italian island of Sardinia, began a strategic plan to revitalize the city and improve walkability.[46] The city actively solicited public feedback through a participatory planning process, as described in the Moreno model. A unique aspect of the plan calls for re-purposing public spaces and buildings that were no longer being used, relating to the general model of urban intensification.[46]

In Utrecht, the fourth-largest city in the Netherlands, 100% of people can reach all city necessities in a 15-minute bike ride, and 94% in a 10-minute bike ride.[47] The local municipality has plans to improve this further by 2040.[48]

In September 2023, the UK Government announced plans to "protect drivers from over-zealous traffic enforcement", in what it says is "part of a long-term plan to back drivers". These included plans "to stop councils implementing so called '15-minute cities', by consulting on ways to prevent schemes which aggressively restrict where people can drive".[49][50]

North America[edit]

In 2012, Portland, Oregon, developed a plan for complete neighborhoods within the city, which are aimed at supporting youth, providing affordable housing, and promoting community-driven development and commerce in historically under-served neighborhoods.[51][2] Similar to the Weng et al. model, the Portland plan emphasizes walking and cycling as ways to increase overall health and stresses the importance of the availability of affordable healthy food.[2] The Portland plan calls for a high degree of transparency and community engagement during the planning process, which is similar to the diversity component of the Moreno et al. model.[2]

In 2015, Kirkland, Washington, developed a "10-Minute Neighborhood Analysis" tool to guide the city's 2035 Comprehensive Plan.[52] This tool is intended to guide community discussion about how the 10-Minute Neighborhood concept can improve livability and explore the policy changes necessary to achieve that vision.

South America[edit]

In March 2021, Bogotá, Colombia, implemented 84 kilometers of bike lanes to encourage social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.[53] This expansion complemented the Ciclovía practice that originated in Colombia in 1974, where bicycles are given primary control of the streets.[53] The resulting bicycle lane network is the largest of its kind in the world.[54]


The city of Melbourne, Australia, developed Plan Melbourne 2017–2050 to accommodate growth and combat sprawl.[2][55] The plan contains multiple elements of the 15-minute city concept, including new bike lanes and the construction of "20-minute neighborhoods".[56][57]

Societal effects[edit]

The 15-minute city, with its emphasis on walkability and accessibility, has been put forward as a way to better serve groups of people that have historically been left out of planning, such as women, children, people with disabilities, people with lived experience of mental illness,[9] and the elderly.[2]

Social infrastructure is also emphasized to maximize urban functions such as schools, parks, and complementary activities for residents.[2] There is also a large focus on access to green space, which may promote positive environmental impacts such as increasing urban biodiversity and helping to protect the city from invasive species.[2] Studies have found that increased access to green spaces can also have a positive impact on the mental and physical health of a city's inhabitants, reducing stress and negative emotions, increasing happiness, improving sleep, and promoting positive social interactions.[58] Urban residents living near green spaces have also been found to exercise more, improving their physical and mental health.[58]


Limitations of the 15-minute city concept include the difficulty or impracticality of implementing the 15-minute city concept in established urban areas, where land use patterns and infrastructure are already in place. Additionally, the concept may not be feasible in areas with low population density, such as those with extensive urban sprawl, or in areas where lower-income workers commute long distances to or from.[10][attribution needed]

Noted exceptions include Chengdu, which used the 15-minute city concept to curb sprawl, and Melbourne, where Lord Mayor Sally Capp stressed the importance of public transit in expanding the radius of the 15-minute city.[56]

An article in the journal Sustainability showed that the creation of dense, walkable urban cores often leads to gentrification or displacement of lower-income residents to outlying neighborhoods due to rising property values. A possible solution to this could be to make affordable housing provisions integral with 15-minute city policies.[2]

Furthermore, when the concept is applied as a literal spatial analysis research tool, it then refers to the use of an isochrone to express the radius of an area considered local.[11] Isochrones have a long history of use in transportation planning and are constructed primarily using two variables: time and speed. However, the reliance on population-wide conventions, such as gait speed, to estimate the buffer zones of accessible areas may not accurately reflect the mobility capabilities of specific population groups, like the elderly. This may result in potential inaccuracies and fallacies in research models.[11][attribution needed]

Obstacles to implementation[edit]

In the United States, several factors make the implementation of 15-minute cities challenging.[59] The biggest roadblock is strict zoning regulations, especially single-family zoning which makes high density housing construction illegal.[59] NIMBYism is also an obstacle, as are parking requirements and the perceived low quality of urban schools which causes childbearing couples to move from urban areas to suburban areas.[59]

Conspiracy theories[edit]

In 2023, unfounded conspiracy theories about the 15-minute concept began to flourish, which described the model as an instrument of government oppression.[12][60][61] These claims are often part of or linked to other conspiracy theories such as QAnon, anti-vaccine theories or anti-5G misinformation that assert that Western governments seek to oppress their populations.[12] Proponents of the 15-minute concept, including Carlos Moreno, have received death threats.[12][59][15]

Some conspiracy theorists conflate the 15-minute concept with the British low-traffic neighbourhood approach, which includes license plate scanners in some implementations.[12][60] This has led to assertions that the 15-minute model would fine residents for leaving their home districts,[62][63] or that it would confine people in "open-air prisons".[12] Conspiracy theorists believe the World Economic Forum (WEF) wants to lock people in their homes on the pretext of climate change.[15] Such beliefs are part of a larger network of conspiracy theories surrounding the concept of a "Great Reset".[61][64][65]

In a 2023 protest by some 2,000 demonstrators in Oxford, signs described 15-minute cities as "ghettos" and an instrument of "tyrannical control" by the WEF.[12] Canadian media commentator Jordan Peterson has described 15-minute cities as a "perversion".[12] QAnon supporters have claimed a February 2023 derailment of a train carrying hazardous chemicals in Ohio was part of a deliberate plot to force rural residents into 15-minute cities to restrict their personal freedom.[12][14] Similar claims have been made about wildfires on the island of Maui in August 2023.[59]

In 2023, the British Conservative government began to criticise the idea by name.[66][67] In February 2023 the Conservative MP Nick Fletcher called 15-minute cities an "international socialist concept" during a debate in the UK Parliament, which was met with laughter.[61][13] At the Conservative party conference in October 2023, Transport Secretary Mark Harper announced that he was "calling time on the misuse of so-called '15-minute cities'", criticising as "sinister" the idea that local councils could "decide how often you go to the shops and that they ration who uses the roads and when".[59][64] No such powers have been proposed as part of the 15-minute city concept in the United Kingdom.[59][64]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]