Cities should consider the 15-minute model as a fast, Earth-friendly alternative to traditional infrastructure


Riley Laferriere

As a citizen of Carmel, I am constantly on the move from one location to the next. From my house, Carmel High School is a three-mile trip, work is a 3.6-mile trip and the nearest shopping center (Clay Terrace) is a 3.3-mile trip. However, for those living even further from the hub of Carmel, the distance could be longer.

It’s difficult to imagine a world where shopping, eating, living, working and other daily functions could be confined to a radius of three miles; yet, this model is gaining traction around the world. This model is called the “15-minute city.” The 15-minute city is my perfect idea of what a city should look like. The model is displayed in a number of shows including “Gilmore Girls” and “South Park,” and it provides a multitude of benefits to the residents of the city.

Sustainability is the first prominent benefit when considering this type of infrastructure. With Earth Day 2023 approaching on April 22, keeping this model in mind or taking steps to implement aspects of it could be a great way to celebrate. According to the Congress for New Urbanism, this model is beneficial as “all human needs” are  within “walking or bicycling for a quarter hour or less.” As bikes and walking would be the main forms of transportation, the pollution caused by motor vehicles would decrease dramatically. Additionally, I, and other pedestrians, would be happy to not hear the roar of engines and honking of horns as we walk down the street.

This model is not only sustainable but cost friendly as well. J.D. Power reported that American families spend approximately $5,000 per year on gasoline. If people were to rely on walking or bicycling as their main form of transportation, they could cut down on the price of gasoline—and the cost of a car—significantly. While biking and walking may not be the best solution during the cold or rainy months, it would be a good option to have throughout the year.

Aside from these aspects, the concept of personal interaction seems like the cherry on top. Being in a close knit environment leads to more personal relationships and connections. These connections are shown to boost moods and promote a sense of security. I am a huge supporter of this type of city for this reason. Often in big cities, I feel overshadowed and overwhelmed by the amount of strangers I encounter; the 15-minute city is the direct opposite of this in that aspect.

I think 15-minute cities should be the next “big thing” in city planning. The benefits truly outweigh the costs and would provide an environmentally-conscious and friendly community for all who live there.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Riley Laferriere at [email protected]

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