- Posted by: Canterbury Labour
- Categories: Environment, Latest News
The covid -19 crisis has torn a hole in city budgets decimating urban economies . An international coalition of cities believes that the only path forward is funding green stimulus plans focused on job creation. The newly released Mayor’s Agenda for a Green and Just Recovery, released July 15th by C40 cities, an international coalition of urban leaders focused on fighting climate change and promoting sustainable development, was developed by the C40 Mayors COVID-19 Recovery Task Force. The plan offers a green prescription for financial stabilisation that emphasises several very familiar ideas-renewable energy investment, energy efficient buildings, improved mass transit, and spending on new parks and green space.
One of its recommendations is that “all residents will live in 15 minutes cities” The decentralisation of services has become known as the 15 minute city, where you can do your job, go to school, see your doctor and be entertained all within a 15 minute radius of where you live.
The idea was developed by Professor Carlos Moreno of the Sorbonne:
“The idea of ‘la ville du quart d’heure’ is one in which daily urban necessities are within 15 minutes reach on foot or by bike. Work, home, shops education, healthcare – in Morenos vision, these should be available within the same time a commuter might once have waited on a railway platform.”
As infection fears have limited transit and travel this vision of close-knit districts supported by infrastructure which allows bikers and walkers to rule-may be coming of age Several cities around the world have used lockdowns to kick start car-free infrastructure projects. Milan has added 22 miles of bike lanes downtown and is building a 8.5 mile green corridor to thread together neighbourhoods. Ottawa has announced plans for 15 minute neighborhoods before the pandemic and Portland in Oregon has sped up plans to ensure 90% of residents live in “complete neighbourhoods” and have turned 90 miles of roads into neighbourhood greenways. In London Sadiq Khan is pushing for an extensive bike lane network. Paris leads the way with installation of a regime of “corona cycleways” to ease transit crowding and prevent traffic surging back into cities.
Melbourne has enormous urban sprawl which was meant to allow it to build more affordable housing-but that has only led to “unaffordable living”. Local leaders are now shifting transportation policy, including 40 kilometers of new bike lanes and creating 20 minute neighbourhoods.
“Every city is talking about how to leverage the moment and reposition itself and focus on a sustainable future,” she says. “If we don’t leverage these moments to make material change, we’re crazy” (Mayor Sally Capp)
In Montreal 186 miles of cycling and pedestrian paths have been added. It supports local business. “We want to encourage people to buy local and forget Amazon” she said.
The speed at which pedestrian, biking and scooter infrastructure has been ramped up during the pandemic shows how quickly things can change. Small tweaks to zoning or permitting for sidewalk cafes and cycling infrastructure can build momentum for larger shifts when budgets allow. As Moreno who created the idea of the 15 minute city states”the idea is not to wage war against cars but it simply a way to help shift priorities”
“A crisis does have a way of reeling(healing?) what’s already broken, if cities aren’t using the revealing nature of the pandemic, how it’s highlighting disparities and racial inequities, shame on them. As difficult as it’s going to be it’s a real opportunity” Bosacker
These are just a few of the ideas that are now being implemented in favour of ‘complete neighbourhoods’ or the 15 minute city. So many of these ideas are inspirational and opportune. Now more than ever we need to rebuild our. Communities in which local businesses can thrive and people can live in clean and safe homes which are in reach of all the facilities for living. In its local plan Canterbury is stating that they wish to create a district where Health and wellbeing are nourished it would would be good to see reflected in the Local Plan.