Dave – the editor
With my non-driver hat on, there are aspects of having as many of life’s amenities as possible within a fifteen minute walk that appeal to me. However, the concept of fifteen minute cities/neighbourhoods has become so closely entwined with the dystopian, top down, authoritarian agenda of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it’s not something I want to be associated with in any way. What follows is a proposition of how to reclaim the idea of genuinely liveable neighbourhoods.
- Most reasonable people would accept that living in a community where a decent number of life’s amenities are within a fifteen minute walk is an attractive idea.
- For those of us of a ‘certain age’, before the rise of out of town shopping, a fair number of us lived in communities where many of life’s amenities were within walking distance.
- The concept of a ‘fifteen minute neighbourhood’ does on the surface, describe what a lot of us experienced forty or more years ago.
- However, what we enjoyed all those decades ago is not what’s coming down the line with some of the plans to zone up urban areas to supposedly create ‘fifteen minute neighbourhoods’.
- Slapping lines on a map does not correct the damage caused by the rise of out of town shopping or decades of planning policy that assumed near universal car ownership.
- Slapping lines on a map does not create neighbourhoods where a lot of life’s amenities are within a fifteen minute walk.
- Zoning up urban areas without doing anything meaningful to actually create genuine fifteen minute neighbourhoods is a con.
- This is particularly the case when a lot of technology is being deployed to monitor traffic movements while not providing any attractive alternatives to using the car.
- Alternatives such as actually having a lot of life’s amenities within a fifteen minute walk alongside robust public transport that’s an attractive enough proposition to persuade people to leave their cars at home.
- Many people can see this which is why there’s a growing wave of opposition to the imposition of so called ‘fifteen minute neighbourhoods’.
- This is because people can see that little effort is being put into creating genuine fifteen minute neighbourhoods while a LOT is being put into technology that will be deployed to control how people move around urban areas.
- At this point, I would like to propose the concept of ‘handy, connected neighbourhoods’ that are shaped by those who live in them and where a lot of what you need is fairly close to hand.
- Neighbourhoods where as much power to shape their future has been devolved right down to the grassroots.
- However, they have to be neighbourhoods that are connected to each other and to the towns, cities and wider regions they’re a part of by a decent range of public transport options plus where appropriate, cycle paths and footpaths.
- With these travel options, those people who for a variety of reasons still have no option but to drive will hopefully find the roads are a lot less congested:)
- A caveat – given the current, unequal power relations we endure, this concept will have to be fought for…