A 15-minute city is a concept in urban planning and development where people can easily access work, education, healthcare, and leisure facilities within a 15-minute walk, bike, or public transportation ride. Cleveland, Ohio, is one of the American cities that have pledged to become a 15-minute city, joining the likes of Paris, Melbourne, and Amsterdam. Cleveland has begun taking steps to realize the mayor’s aspirations for a 15-minute city.

Prioritizing Pedestrians and Bikes

Cleveland’s Complete and Green Streets Ordinance is a framework that prioritizes pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles in street design, construction, and maintenance. The ordinance seeks to create safe, friendly, and accessible street networks that encourage active transportation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Cleveland has also invested in bike lanes, trails, and pedestrian crossings to enhance walkability and connectivity. This would result in reduced transportation costs, time, and less stress for workers. Additionally, reduced commuting times would free up more time for personal activities or to pursue hobbies and interests. This would, in turn, improve the quality of life for workers and their families.

Promoting Mixed-Use Development

Mixed-use development is an urban planning strategy that integrates a variety of land uses, such as residential, commercial, and retail, in one neighborhood or building. Mixed-use development creates walkable and livable communities by reducing the need for long commutes and encouraging neighborhood interactions. Cleveland has designated seven neighborhoods, including Ohio City and University Circle, as mixed-use districts and provided financial incentives for developers to build mixed-use projects.

Expanding Public Transportation

Public transportation is a critical component of a 15-minute city as it connects people to different parts of the city and reduces reliance on personal cars. Cleveland has been expanding its public transportation system, including buses, light rail, and streetcars, to cover more neighborhoods and provide frequent and reliable services. The city has also adopted a smart transit strategy that uses data and technology to optimize transit routes and improve the passenger experience.

Enhancing Public Spaces

Public spaces, such as parks, plazas, and waterfronts, are essential for a livable and enjoyable urban environment. Cleveland has invested in creating and revitalizing public spaces throughout its neighborhoods to promote physical activity, social interaction, and cultural events. Some of the notable projects include the Public Square, the Flats East Bank, and the Euclid Beach Park.

Empowering Communities

Lastly, becoming a 15-minute city is not only about physical infrastructure but also about community empowerment and engagement. Cleveland has been collaborating with local residents, businesses, and organizations to identify their needs, preferences, and priorities for neighborhood development and to co-create solutions. Community-driven initiatives, such as the Cleveland Climate Action Plan and the Neighborhood Leadership Development Program, have fostered a sense of ownership and participation in the city’s transformation.

Cleveland’s aspiration to become a 15-minute city is an ambitious but achievable goal that encompasses multiple aspects of urban planning and development. Prioritizing pedestrians and bikes, promoting mixed-use development, expanding public transportation, enhancing public spaces, and empowering communities are the key steps the city is taking to be more sustainable, equitable, and livable. As more cities and regions adopt the 15-minute city concept, we can expect to see a transformational shift in how we design and experience urban environments.