The Inclusive 15-Minute City: Rethinking Urban Planning for All

The concept of the 15-minute city has gained significant attention in recent years. The idea, popularized by urbanist Carlos Moreno, emphasizes the importance of living close to essential services and promoting walking and biking, with public transit as an alternative to cars. While this approach has its merits for promoting sustainability and community well-being, it is essential to consider the potential limitations and challenges it poses for marginalized and disabled individuals.

One of the primary goals of the 15-minute city is to encourage active transportation, leading to improved health outcomes. Research shows that reducing reliance on cars can have positive impacts on people’s well-being. However, it is crucial to recognize that not everyone can walk or bike in a normative sense. Individuals with disabilities or those who require mobility devices may face significant barriers in accessing these active transportation options. Planning for inclusivity means considering the diverse needs of all community members.

Another critical aspect to address is the ableist nature of the 15-minute city concept. Ableism refers to the practices and norms that society considers typical, often disregarding the experiences and needs of disabled individuals. The 15-minute city assumes that residents can navigate the urban environment on foot or by bike. However, this assumption fails to account for those who require adapted transportation or who move at a different pace due to disability. To create truly inclusive urban futures, planning must consider and accommodate the needs of all residents, regardless of ability.

Additionally, planning policy and regulations play a crucial role in achieving an inclusive 15-minute city. Existing accessibility legislation, such as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in Ontario, seeks to ensure equal access to services. However, there are limitations in terms of enforcement and the breadth of disability considerations. Relying solely on these regulations may not adequately address the ableist limitations of planning concepts. It is important to foster an inclusive mindset within planning education and practice, actively involving disabled individuals in the design process and considering their needs from the outset.

In conclusion, while the 15-minute city offers a promising vision for sustainable and community-oriented urban planning, it must be approached with inclusivity in mind. Planning concepts should be adaptable and responsive to the diverse needs of residents, including those with disabilities. By challenging ableism, educating planners, and incorporating inclusive design principles, we can create cities that truly work for everyone.


What is the 15-minute city?

The 15-minute city is an urban planning concept that promotes living close to essential services and encourages walking, biking, and public transit usage over car reliance.

What are the key considerations for inclusivity within the 15-minute city?

To ensure inclusivity, the 15-minute city must address the diverse needs of residents. This includes accommodating individuals with disabilities, considering mobility devices, and adapting transportation options to different paces.

What role do planning policies and regulations play?

Planning policies and regulations provide a regulatory framework for implementing inclusive concepts like the 15-minute city. However, these regulations should be flexible, constantly revised, and enforced to address ableist limitations.

How can planners promote inclusivity?

Planners can promote inclusivity by advocating for disabled representation in planning education and professional practice. It is essential to consider disability from the beginning of the design process and foster an inclusive mindset within all aspects of urban planning.