Voi’s 15-minute city movement is launched

Jun 30, 2021


Voi gathered thought leaders across transport, innovation, accessibility and urban planning for a landmark symposium on the best way forward to make the 15-minute city a reality.

The 15-minute city concept has been around since the UN Summit on Climate Change in 2015, when policymakers agreed on the Paris Agreement as a ground to raise ambitions to mitigate climate change. Introduced as an idea by Carlos Moreno, Associate Professor at the University of Paris, the concept has now gained ground.

Moreno himself was one of the opening speakers at our symposium and talked about his vision to change the way we think about our urban lifestyles. Moreno’s vision is that our lives and work should feel more connected to our local neighbourhood. The 15-minute city is one where everyone can get access to their daily needs by travelling no more than 15-minutes by foot, bicycle, e-scooter or public transport.

Here at Voi, we’re completely committed to the 15-minute city concept and organised the symposium to generate more discussion and insights into the topic. Some 200 people attended including a wide range of interested parties from urban planners and designers, city officials and other regulators, journalists, bloggers and companies involved with creating mobility within cities.

Removing the need for car journeys

Led by TechCrunch’s editor-at-large Mike Butcher, the symposium looked at both the opportunities and threats to creating 15-minute cities in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. For example, we heard how cycling and shared micromobility services have gone up dramatically during the pandemic (a seven-fold increase for us at Voi), but also car journeys have remained the same whilst public transport has suffered. Creating a 15-minute city means removing the need for car journeys and getting people back to public transport again.

Shared micromobility-services like ours can make a difference here and the symposium looked at successful pilot projects where shared micromobility worked together with public transport and resulted in a huge increase in public transport usage. Stuttgart was one such example where the numbers using public transport rose dramatically when they were given an opportunity to take an e-scooter to their nearest train station and have a good place to park it.

The symposium also looked at accessibility and how creating a 15-minute city is only relevant if it’s accessible to everyone regardless of gender, family situation, age, ability or socio-economic status.

Partnerships are key for an inclusive transition

And most speakers touched on the need to collaborate. For some, it should be led by government regulators and high-level leadership enabling land-use change, while others felt that a bottom-up and top-down approach needed to occur simultaneously to successfully bring about change. Our own CEO, Fredrik Hjelm referred to working with academia as the brain, companies as the muscles and government as the enablers.

Others talked about the need to include every group in our society to give us a truly holistic picture of the needs. This would mean involving public policy bodies, local community groups, designers, urban planners, local government and other stakeholders that work to ensure equality in our communities.

While there are plenty of challenges in the way of creating truly 15-minute cities, the symposium also highlighted that there is a lot of momentum and optimism. Creating cities for people and not cars is a vision that can become a reality when everyone works towards the same goal.

Speakers at the event included:

  • Carlos Moreno, Associate Professor at the University of Paris / Sorbonne and creator of the 15-Minute City concept

  • Karen Vancluysen, POLIS Network’s Secretary-General

  • Fredrik Hjelm, CEO of Voi Technology

  • Julia Hawkins, partner at LocalGlobe

  • Katy Taylor, Chief strategy and customer officer, Go Ahead

  • Imogen Pierce, head of city engagement and integration at Arrival

  • Tiffany Lam, New Economics Foundation consultant and inclusive cycling and urban design expert

  • Martynas Gudonavičius, CEO of Trafi

  • Hamish Stewart, Co-Founder, London Car Free Day

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