15-Minute City is an urban plan established by the city of Paris whose goal is to make most daily necessities accomplishable by either walking or cycling from residents' homes in a maximum of 15 minutes.
urban development; urban mobility; walking; cycling
Ongoing initiative (from 2020 to 2026)
Scale(s) of the case analysed
Target audience and dimension
Domain(s) of application
Challenge addressed/ Problem-led
Impact to climate neutrality
The goal of 15-Minute City is a more environmentally friendly and socially inclusive urban (sub)development, which should make urban life more qualitative, agile, healthy and flexible. The 15-Minute City also provides a framework to accelerate the path to carbon-free cities. It focuses on integrating land use and transport planning and is most successful when implemented as part of a citywide, city-led strategy that strongly involves local people.
Context & Public policy of reference
Paris is committed to creating a city, or rather a multitude of neighbourhoods within the city, that will put people at the centre. The 15-minute city started as one of the drivers in Anne Hidalgo’s (Mayor of Paris) re-election campaign. The project started in 2020 and is expected to take six years.
Innovative approach(es) addressed
“The concept of a 15-minute city, in a nutshell,” explains Carlos Moreno, professor at the Sorbonne and scientific advisor to the Mayor of Paris “is to design the city within a distance of 15 minutes by foot or by bike to enable the six main urban activities for living in cities: to live, to work, to supply, to education, to health, and to enjoy.” After Anne Hidalgo’s election the wheels have started turning to bring the idea to life.
“The 15-minute city is a new way of thinking about the city and city politics,” says Diana Filippova, advisor to the Mayor. “You have to start from the people, by understanding how people move and live in the city, what people want.”
Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo took her bicycle out on the streets to promote her vision on the 15-minute city during the 2020 mayoral elections. Under Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s aim for ‘La Ville Du Quart d’Heure’ (the quarter-hour city), Paris is now focusing on developing new services for each district. A new economic model for local businesses, reducing traffic and reclaiming streets as bike lanes and areas for leisure, and transforming existing infrastructure are on top of the list.
Stakeholder networks and organisational model
The project is planned and developed by the city of Paris.
Interaction between participants
The main enabler of the 15-minute city concept in Paris is the political commitment by the mayor. Because the concept is part of her agenda it receives funding and support.
Furthermore, the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic revealed weaknesses in urban planning that had previously been overlooked. This finding accelerated the consideration and implementation of the 15-Minute City concept in response to the climate crisis and urban impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The restricted radius of movement led to an increased relevance of quality in one‘s own neighborhood. In this respect, the 15-Minute approach is an attempt to bring the built environment more in line with the people living there.
Key inhibiting factors
Proponents of the concept urge those investments under the 15-Minute City paradigm should be targeted to lower-income neighborhoods. This includes measures such as implementing inclusive spatial planning/zoning, affordable housing, and supporting collaborative and community based approaches to housing development (e.g., cooperative housing). Urban planning interventions must be understood and implemented hand-in-hand with socially inclusive development processes.
Drawbacks/pros/cons of the solutions (after implementation)
Spatial distances between living, working, (local) supplies, services, leisure, and educational facilities should be kept short so that the need for transport is reduced and traffic is avoided. The strong focus on spatial proximity is mainly criticized because it promotes gentrification which leads to increasing segregation and isolation of neighborhoods.
The concept is occasionally criticized as an urban paradigm best suited for European cities (esp. Oslo, London, Barcelona) and not for the Global South or North American contexts.
Main positive lessons/opportunities identified:
- Stimulation of initiatives on local level
- Shift towards cleaner modes of transport
- Healthy living environments
Main failures/barriers identified:
- Ensuring equality at city level
- Creating diverse yet self-sufficient communities
- Urban sprawl