20-minute Neighbourhoods is the principle of planning for compact, complete and connected neighbourhoods where you can fulfil most of your daily needs within a short walk or cycle. While this comes in many shapes, one way of understanding the 20MN is living in a way where a private car is not a requirement for a full life. Rather you can travel to and from work, school, shops, social services and everyday day activities within a short walk. Not every neighbourhood has to be able to fill every need. Some Neighbourhoods might have a Cinema, some might have a Michelin Restaurant and some might have a Hospital. The ideal town/city consists of a cluster of distinct neighbourhoods that are well-connected and easy to travel between – ideally by active travel or public transport – so that the city as a whole fulfils most of the functions you require through the year.
Having many people, and many functions crammed on a small space also leaves cities fragile to disruptions. Green Infrastructure can be part of a climate resilience strategy by managing heavy rainfalls. In terms of creating liveable cities one of the things we spoke about in the group is how we should be planning for added value – how does the space work when it’s not raining? The technical solution will provide surface water management infrastructure in an extreme rain event but an urban park can serve as a meeting place, recreational space and increase biodiversity every day. This is the story we need to get across to clients and colleagues!
Place over Movement was the key message here. Some active travel projects are about movement and can be quite technical solutions. However, the projects where we bring most value are projects in towns/cities where we provide alternatives to using private cars and here convenience is what gets people on bikes. With Copenhagen as an example, very few people there choose to cycle because it’s healthy or good for the environment. It’s because it’s the easiest and fastest way to get from A to B. However, some projects show how convenience and directness can be combined with experience, such as the Cycle Snake (cykelslangen), which is the cycle bridge that was never meant to be. Originally, City of Copenhagen asked design team to build a ramp which would create a sub-par route for people cycling. Going down a ramp, over a local street, along a shared path with main entrance to shopping centre, over a bridge and up another ramp. Instead design team convinced client that the best solution would be a direct link so cyclists didn’t have to go up, down and over, and wouldn’t have to cycle on a busy pedestrian space. The project became big success and has twice and many cycle users as expected. Even had to put up a sign to say pedestrians were not allowed as capacity would not allow it. This shows that people want also want a good experience if they are to choose to travel actively.