15 Minute City


15 Minute City

The latest idea to come out of our friends in the environmental movement is the 15 minute city. The idea is that everything you need including your job, shopping, and play will be within a 15 minute walk of your home. Let me parse this for you.

Large retailers like Costco and Wal Mart, food stores like Vons and Albertsons, and employers with more than a few employees will all have to be broken up. These retailers rely on large populations to stay in business. But if you have a 15 minute city, by definition the population must be small, or we all like in 900 square foot apartments with bars, restaurants, and stores on the bottom floors.

To take this to the extreme, a 15 minute city would mean that someone in the family would be devoted to shopping, since you would need to shop daily because you could purchase no more than you could carry. Don’t even think about how walking 15 minutes in a snowstorm, or in 100 degree heat would work. As Jazz Shaw over at Hot Air Blog put it:

Day-to-day life would also become unworkable. Nobody is going to pick up their weekly groceries on a bicycle. And do you think they will want to spend half of their day pushing their groceries across town in a cart like a homeless person? Even if    you attempted it, your odds of being mugged and robbed just went up exponentially. As far as getting to work goes, public transit is simply not tenable for many, particularly lower-income workers. The linked report points to one study showing that poorer workers with access to a car were twice as likely to get a job and four times as likely to remain employed.

What this all means is the end of the privately owned vehicle. Not just ICE but EV, too. There is no room for them in a 15 minute city. Some would say that’s just fine, it is after all the unsaid goal of many in the environmental movement. Of course, that means the end of the Parking Business.

And an end to freedom as we know it.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

6 Responses

  1. “Large retailers like Costco and Wal Mart, food stores like Vons and Albertsons….”

    Look who’s sucking up to big business 😳🙄

  2. What a load of nonsense. The 15 minute city gives you the possibility of accessing facilities within 15 minutes, not a requirement. There is no suggestion of breaking up bigger shops. I expected a more considered view from you, John

  3. Hi Nick:
    Nonsense, I think not. If you provide a city that is within a 15 minute walk, larger facilities like a Costco or Wal Mart simply wouldn’t have the room to exist. (Frankly its sometimes a 15 minute walk from the street to the front door of a Wal Mart or Costco. The size of the facility makes it problematic in a 15 minute city. A medium size shopping center itself is larger than the 15 minute city. In many cases (like New York, London, Paris,) the 15 minute city already partially exists, as people certainly can live, shop, and play within 15 minutes. I’m not sure about working, since their metro is full of folks going to work.
    That’s another thing. How about finding work within a 15 minute walk? Just how does one select which employers locate in the 15 minute city. Any company with more than say 50 employees would have a footprint larger than the city itself. One would think that perhaps it would become a “company town.”
    When one thinks through all the ramifications of having everything within a short walk, it becomes more complex and less nonsense.

  4. Oh, and another thing. How is a 15 minute city going to attract residents. Not just a place to live, but the resident must, I think, find work within a 15 minute walk. If I’m a computer engineer must I live in the 15 minute computer manufacturing city, or if I’m a…well you get the idea. See, Nick, the concept doesn’t work unless you are ‘all in.’ If not, it becomes just another neighborhood with shops within walking distance, or within walking distance of your work, or with some trendy clubs just down the street.

  5. You know it will be rubbish, when the article is by JVH. a 15 minute city makes life MORE convenient, and is more sustainable. There is no restriction of traveling wherever the hell you want. The point of a 15 minute city is to make it so you dont HAVE to. Your freedom remains intact.

  6. Hi Christopher — Rubbish is it? Whenever a government entity creates something, a little bit of freedom is removed. In some cases that is good (rules for drivers, etc) and in most cases it is bad (most tax rules, education requirements – where you must go to school, the list is endless). However in this case, my guess is that it wouldn’t be long til requirements set in. Its just how it works.

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