Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

15-minute cities are making a comeback

One result of our sustained stay-at-home situation is a heightened interest in staying close to home even after the pandemic subsides.

  • Enter the 15-minute city, a "complete neighborhood" that centers around the idea that residents can meet most of their daily needs by walking or bicycling a short distance — i.e., 15 to 20 minutes — from their homes.

Why it matters: Strategically clustering food outlets, doctors' offices, schools, pharmacies, banks, smaller-scale offices and places for recreation in a close proximity to the people who need them can shrink the "deserts" of essential services in distressed neighborhoods.

  • And making more services reachable by foot or bike will help address climate change.
"When we get beyond the single-use space that has traditionally dominated our neighborhoods, and by allowing for flexibility based on the scale of the built environment, we can identify what's missing, what's needed, what's in demand in a particular neighborhood."
Andre Brumfield, head of cities and urban design at architecture firm Gensler

Be smart: The concept of the "15-minute" or "20-minute" city has been around for 15-20 years. It was seen as the antidote to suburban sprawl and an argument for mixed-use, "walkable" development that encouraged people work and live in the same vicinity.

  • While a few cities embraced the idea, it was often limited to more affluent entertainment or new 'main street' districts.
  • The long-term shift to remote work could widen it, as companies also looking into smaller, more dispersed branch offices closer to where clusters of employees live.
  • And with a massive reshuffling of retail, restaurant and office space underway, re-zoning for more flexible land use could be important for cities trying to recoup lost tax revenue.

"It is possible to see far more rapid change in this area than one would have expected even six months ago," said David Miller, C40's director of international diplomacy and former Toronto mayor.

The state of play: A few cities around the world are moving in this direction as a priority in their COVID-19 recovery plans, per a recent C40 Cities report. Restricting car traffic and increasing paths and lanes reserved for pedestrians and cyclists are common features.

  • Milan, Italy plans to guarantee essential services within walking distance for all residents, and the city is working with businesses to encourage telework.
  • Paris is embracing the 15-minute city concept by adding offices and "coworking hubs'" and encouraging remote work. The city is finding new uses for existing structures — using nightclubs as gyms during the day, and turning schools into parks and play spaces on weekends.
  • In Portland, Ore., Mayor Ted Wheeler has committed to a "2030 complete neighborhoods" goal, allowing 90% of residents to access their daily, non-work needs without needing to get in a car.

Between the lines: How a 15- or 20-minute city can boost sustainability has gotten the bulk of the attention. But Brumfield sees an even bigger opportunity to boost neighborhood equity as part of the COVID-19 recovery, by helping to put less advantaged areas on more equal footing with the amenity-rich ones.

  • "If we start to think about how to create more districts that connect and play off each other, we can start to see a different distribution of not only investment and wealth, but we can actually create more holistic neighborhoods across the city so people have more choice and flexibility in where they choose to live," Brumfield said.

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

Keep reading... Show less

Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

Keep reading... Show less

"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

Keep reading... Show less

What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories