In her successful mayoral re-election campaign Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, has outlined her vision for the future of the French capital. Her 15-Minute City focuses on the proximity of workplaces, schools and amenities for all citizens. After years of internationalisation we're encountering a revival of urban localism.
The 15-Minute City initiative, or “la ville du quatre d’heure”, is the next of Hidalgo’s greening and pollution-reducing policies aiming to make Paris greener and more pedestrian- and bike-friendly while reducing car emissions. In her initial election in 2014, Hidalgo heralded that Paris would become a bike city and while she missed her target by 400km, she had built 1,000km of bike paths by 2020. Following a previous initiative, Parisians can garden anywhere in the city limits according to the “permis de végétaliser” (greenery permit) in an effort to make the French capital more green and plant-friendly. With further plans to limit car use and pedestrianise Paris, more space will be made available to “green” in order to create healthier urban environments and parks where car parks and on-street parking places now stand.
The 15-Minute City will now offer another huge reduction in the number of cars on the streets and the levels of air pollution by cutting commutes and travel necessity. According to The Local, Parisians spend up 92 minutes a day commuting to and from work. “The quarter-hour city would reduce two serious problems plaguing many Parisians: the air pollution that kills 3,000 people a year, which is largely caused by car traffic, and the many hours lost in transport suffered to go to work,” Delphine Grinberg, a member of Paris Sans Voiture (“Paris without cars”) said in fastcompany.com.
But it’s not just the environment that will benefit from the 15-Minute City. With the rise in technology and increasing levels of remote working, commuting has become outdated. People no longer have to travel in and out of the city to function at work, so why should they have to travel in and out of their neighbourhoods to meet social functions and needs? Cutting commute times and creating close neighbourhoods that meet the needs and social functions of their habitants is not just a traffic-calming measure.
An hour and half commute spent just travelling between your place of work and home does not include the school run or going to get groceries or any other daily errands you might have. Professor and advisor to Hidalgo, Carlos Moreno was inspired by Jane Jacobs’ proximity as the key to the city in guiding the 15-Minute Paris initiative. After all, people flock to cities not only because they are hubs for jobs, schools and universities but also their proximity to all these things and all other amenities and entertainment you might need or want. But slowly, these things have been slipping out of reach for many as the suburbs expand and business, cultural or social hubs become further separated from places of living.
With the 15-Minute City, offices and workplaces will be added to neighbourhoods where there are none. With the rise of co-working hotspots and hotdesking, this could be co-working spaces to serve the local workers to cut their commute times at least most days of the week. Furthermore, this could be transforming the amenities already available in the area to offer the public spaces needed at all times of the day — this could be a restaurant, cafe or nightclub that can be transformed during the day to offer local workers, students and school children the spaces they need during the day and libraries, stadiums and public buildings that open after hours to provide social amenities.
The 15-Minute City is a popular concept that is being adopted globally from wider French cities to Montreal, Tunisia and South America. Ultimately, the 15-Minute City acknowledges and tackles ideas of the livability of cities in this day, this climate, and this property and job market. It centres on ideas of localhood and access to workplaces, schools and social spaces in your local vicinity while tackling issues of climate change and pollution to make sure that the neighbourhoods bring all the things the city has to offer to its people.