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The concept of the 15-minute city is one that has found a lot of traction with city and local authorities in recent years. A 15-minute city puts the emphasis on local living, enabling citizens to meet the majority of their daily needs with only a 15-minute return walk, supported by other active transportation modes.

Developing 15-minute cities and neighbourhoods requires drastic changes to the city ecosystem as we know it, dispersing jobs, housing, critical infrastructure, mobility services, and the required investment to support all of these elements, more equally across cities to create more accessible, equitable and inclusive cities.

The concept supports several of cities’ essential wider policy objectives to become better connected, close the digital divide, tackle climate change, bolster urban economies, and encourage more shared and multimodal mobility services.

Here, SmartCitiesWorld takes a look at five examples of public and private collaboration that are helping to shape 15-minute cities and neighbourhoods, and provide insight into how other cities and local councils can look to launch pilots.

London borough of Newham and VivaCity

In August 2022, the London Borough of Newham partnered with VivaCity to implement a 15-minute neighbourhood programme.

VivaCity is a transport scale-up, formerly known as Vivacity Labs, whose traffic monitoring data will support two of Newham’s 15-minute neighbourhood programme – Shared Spaces and Connected Neighbourhoods.

Funding for the programmes comes from the UK government’s levelling-up fund, designed to level the economic and infrastructure playing field in the UK, which has historically been uneven due to geography. Newham hopes that the programme will bring new opportunities to the borough, as well as bringing a sense of pride and vibrancy to the area.

On the technology side, VivaCity will be garnering anonymous road traffic data, monitoring high street footfall, and providing the borough with active travel data insights to help demonstrate and communicate return on investment in the programme.

The Shared Spaces portion of the programme is focused on urban generation to improve the borough’s public space and develop a human-centred urban environment that can deliver better experiences for citizens. The Connected Neighbourhood project, meanwhile, will support the overall programme’s sustainable mobility aims by developing an active travel corridor along one of Newham’s busiest roads.

Micromobility infrastructure in Paris

Paris has been the leader of the pack in its pledges to create 15-minute neighbourhoods since Mayor Anne Hidalgo took to city streets on a bike during the 2020 mayoral elections to promote the vision.

Since, there have been a number of partnerships in the city that aim to make it more citizen centric and accessible. One of the more recent has seen mobility-as-a-service solutions provider Acton bring its all-in-one docking and charging micromobility stations to Paris, helping to promote active transportation and enable progress with the 15-minute neighbourhood concept in the city.

The docking and charging stations being rolled out are accessible to those riding the most commonly used e-bikes and scooters, whether they’re personally owned or part of a public sharing scheme. Forty-two stations are being installed in six locations in the city, and another 150 to follow in 17 locations across the Rive Gauche district, with both phases set to complete by the end of 2022.

The Acton stations are being installed strategically to better connect active and shared transportation methods with key transport hubs, such as Gare D’Austerlitz, Place d’Italie and Olympiades with residential areas like Station F, Bibliothèque nationale de France (Bnf) or Paris University.

The rollout is being overseen by the city’s own Urban Lab and is supported by a partnership consisting of Engie Solutions, Smovengo, Enedis (subsidiary of EDF), EIT InnoEnergy and the NGO XIII Avenir.

The Green and Thriving Neighbourhood programme

Another recent example encouraging the creation of more 15-minute neighbourhoods is being driven by C40 and NREP, who announced their Green and Thriving Neighbourhood programme in at the end of September 2022.

The programme seeks to make urban areas more, sustainable, equitable and liveable by delivering proof of concept (PoC) policies for 15-minute cities, which can enable global cities to develop their own net-zero and citizen-centric neighbourhoods.

C40 and NREP are joined by strategic partners such as UN-Habitat and Carlos Moreno, whose framework for developing 15-minute cities has underpinned much of the work on the concept to date.

Together, the partnership promotes the narrative that neighbourhoods acting as innovation labs can help to pioneer new policy, test new partnerships, explore new ways to improve citizen engagement, and also trial new technologies and solutions.

Helsinki’s 15-minute city ambitions

As a frontrunner in the transformational urban and shared mobility space over the last several years, it should be no surprise that the Finnish capital of Helsinki has serious ambitions to become a 15-minute city.

With Covid-19 having changed the shape of cities and the value of urban space to local authorities having spiked, Helsinki recognised the opportunities that exist around active travel, despite more progress than many similarly densely populated cities already.

Ninety-four per cent of Helsinki’s citizens supported the promotion of cycling according to the city’s Cycling Barometer study, though getting the other six per cent over the line is anticipated to take considerable work. More cyclists will require the reconstruction of many city thoroughfares in order to construct proper infrastructure for people on bicycles, explained Anni Sinnemäki, Helsinki’s deputy mayor for the urban environment in a piece for SmartCitiesWorld in July 2022. The city is hopeful that a more coherent cycling network will lead to a larger modal share for cycling, and has ambitions to become the world’s third-best cycling city.

Helsinki is also leaning on technology and design principles from Europe’s leading cycling nations, like Denmark and the Netherlands, to help it achieve this goal and further implement 15-minute city initiatives. That means improving accessibility across the city and creating an urban environment that better supports every-day movement, which will also reduce strain on the health sector as people become healthier and more active.

Safety and accessibility are paramount, with Helsinki seeking to separate pedestrians from cyclists clearly and effectively, developing cycling facilities that consider the most vulnerable, and bolstering its public transport system to support citizens for who walking and cycling isn’t an option.

The Green and Thriving Neighbourhoods guidebook

Before the C40 and NREP programme mentioned above was the guidebook, produced in partnership by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and Arup in September 2021.

The guidebook was aimed at city authorities, developers and communities and could be applied in both new and existing neighbourhoods globally. It provides a framework for greener and more sustainable neighbourhoods which can act as a pathway to net-zero targets by implementing 15-minute city principles.

The authors of the guidebook urge that action at a neighbourhood level is needed to accelerate progress to net zero, warning that targets otherwise risk being missed. Rather than waiting for a top-down approach from central governments, local projects can provide an urban test bed to trial innovative approaches, including in design and construction.

With communities around the world increasingly witnessing the impact of heatwaves or extreme flooding, there is a need for local strategies, policies and projects that provide opportunities for direct community participation in the fight against climate change, and 15-minute city principles provide one potential route to doing so.

The guidebook draws on best practice thinking and successful projects in cities across the world, such as in Paris, San Francisco, and Nanjing, and highlights 10 key approaches to delivering greener neighbourhoods, including people-centred streets, adaptable spaces, and clean construction.


Autor(en)/Author(s): Luke Antoniou

Quelle/Source: Smart Cities World, 06.10.2022

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