Urbanisation: What is the Fifteen-Minute City?

by | Jun 25, 2021

Assisting the international urban transition toward the ‘Fifteen-minute city’ is one of MOBIX’s key aims and, just this month, it has been reported that the Cambridge dictionary may be planning to add it as an official word… but what is the Fifteen-minute city?

The Fifteen-minute City

The Fifteen-minute City is a blueprint for future urban planning that was recently developed by Carlos Moreno, a professor at Paris’ Sorbonne University. Professor Moreno states that cities should be reorganised and transformed in polycentric entities, almost overlapping townships, that are focused around proximity, diversity, density and ubiquity across the six essential urban social functions: living, working, supplying, caring, learning and enjoying. This concept would see citizens put at the centre of urban transformation and design- and would enable them to access all the amenities required for an amazing quality of life within just 15 minutes of travel by bike, scooter or on foot.

The concept sits within the New Urbanism school of urban planning, which emerged in the 1980s as an American response to unchecked urban sprawl and the short-sighted urban planning policies that had allowed it to occur.[1] The school owes its origins to the earlier “neighbourhood unit” that Clarence Perry (a notable American urban planner) developed in the early 1900s.[2] New Urbanism encompasses many aspects and ideas but, in short, it is concerned with developing a sense of community and promoting ecologically friendly practices. The school possesses its own professional body, formed in 1993, named the Congress for the New Urbanism. The body has frequently lobbied for cities to become more accessible and provide citizens with environmentally friendly transport options.

In more recent, post-Covid19 times, many institutions have adopted Professor Moreno’s concept of the fifteen-minute city as an efficient and elegant solution to the myriad challenges presented by urban planning in our modern era. One notable body is the C40, which is a collaborative network of 97 international cities that aim to put the ideals behind the fifteen-minute city into practice and combat climate change.

The Fifteen-minute City in Practice

One of the megacities involved in the C40 is Paris and there is, arguably, no better example for a case-study of the fifteen-minute city in practice.

Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, made urban transformation one of the key cornerstones of her mayoral campaign. Anyone who has visited Paris since 2014 can tell that she has delivered on this promise. Micromobility is clearly an important part of the Parisian infrastructure plan- evidenced by the countless bikes and electronic scooters that can conveniently be found on most of the street corners.

As part of the global drive to ‘build back better’, Paris has even taken the step to close some of its roads to cars in an effort to prevent the old spectre of urban congestion (and smog) from returning to the streets. These 50 kilometres (31 mi) of pop-up cycle lanes are known as ‘coronapistes’ and some run right through the very centre of Paris. In an interview given last year, Mayor Hidalgo has made a commitment to expand this program, make it permanent and halve the amount of car parking spaces within Paris (140,000 to 70,000).

As has been noted by Professor Moreno however, the Fifteen-minute City is not a ‘war on cars’. It does not have to be. We simply have to reduce our reliance upon them for short journeys. The concept is, as mentioned above, about overlapping smaller townships inside the mega-city bubble and giving everyone the opportunity to experience the benefits of the urban lifestyle… without the grim, dreary and polluting commute.

MOBIX and the Fifteen Minute City

MOBIX incentivises ecologically friendly transport using the MOBX token, which is a cryptocurrency token that can be earned through using eco-friendly transport.

MOBIX, as an intelligent mobility exchange, can further facilitate the growth of the Fifteen-minute City by locating eco-friendly transport for its users as part of our mission to build out a wider micro-mobility infrastructure. This process will be anonymous, take into account user preferences when selecting transport or price and will even incentivise the user as well.

It is increasingly clear that the Fifteen-minute City is going to result in positive change for our cities and, with MOBIX, citizens themselves can play a crucial part in that.

If you liked this post on the ’15-minute city’ and wanted to learn even more, Voi Technology are hosting a 15-Minute City Symposium tomorrow (29/06/2021) and Professor Moreno is one of the keynote speakers! Find more details here on how to watch the virtual event.

[1] Caves, R. W., Encyclopedia of the City (London, Routledge, 2004). pp. 491.

[2] Perry, C., 1929, The Neighbourhood Unit (Reprint. London, Routledge/Thoemmes, 1998). p.25-44.