The pandemic has caused us to rethink how we live, work, and travel by proving that living and shopping local is easier than we think. The 15-minute city is an urban residential concept in which all city residents are able to meet most of their needs within 15 minutes of their home - from groceries to work to socialising. Hear more from partner Giles Clifford on the future of the 15-minute concept in the UK.


Narrator: The 15-minute city is a residential urban concept in which all city residents are able to meet most of their needs within a short walk from their homes. The idea has been pushed into the limelight in the wake of the pandemic.

Giles Clifford: It's a really exciting concept, what it's dealing with is a rethinking of the way that our classic city environment works. Bits of the agenda have been around for, really, a lot longer. London's had a cycle hire scheme for quite a number of years and there are all sorts of cities elsewhere, Melbourne, Ottawa, Seattle, a lot of the C40 cities are looking at the concept. And you could say that London, with its smaller sub urban centres, in some ways already offers a 15-minute city opportunity and some of it is ripe for enriching that experience.

Narrator: But how can we adapt what's happening in these global super cities from urban centres in the UK? One key aspect of the concept is the focus on greener transport modes. Walking, cycling and now scooters are becoming more prevalent with huge benefits for sustainability. Emerging technology is playing a role in making the 15-minute city concept a reality by enabling scooter and shared bike schemes, making alternative transport methods available to everyone in the community.

Giles: The tools for, sort of, shared mobility, like the e-scooter, the hire bike, even the Car Club car, actually help quite significantly because they mean that the level of active travel option does not mean you need a permanent home for your kit. It just needs a docking station or a place on the street and obviously the technology that enables that is the remote card wireless payment technologies and tracking of those bits of kit and so on. So that's probably made a huge difference in a way that, I suspect, we're not all that aware of. But when you think about it, it's hard to run a bike hire scheme without those.

Narrator: The pandemic has also caused us to think about how we get around and how we can live and work differently. Our infrastructure, and town planning too, will have to adapt to this shift in behaviour.

Giles: On the planning front, I think there's quite a lot of imagination required about repurposing, reusing buildings for appropriate uses within 15 minutes as opposed to a traditional long range commuting city. And some of those buildings, the fabric, the configuration, will not be suitable, but people are pretty imaginative about how they reuse space.

We've obviously got an immediate climate crisis which is very much focused on C02 and air pollution and that's absolutely right, but, I think people have also realised, specifically in the last year, that human contact is crucial and actually shopping local and living local is a bit of an idyll that people have suddenly realised actually can be available even in a city. You don't need to live in a lovely village to talk to your neighbours and so on. I think it is a very wide application and benefit, there are plenty of places where you fall off the edge of them in 15 minutes, so those are the easy ones, but a lot of large conurbations will benefit from it and actually you don't need to be Manhattan style density to make it work. It works even in relatively low-rise, low-density environments.

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