Professor Ed Blakely, Director of the Cities Leadership Institute recently spent a month exploring Madrid, Spain, bringing back insights for our Australian cities.
The 30-minute city has entered the lexicon of urban development as the latest notion for framing the creation of better cities. The notion of 30 minutes comes from how cities were developed in the past where walking was the central mode of transportation.
A 30-minute walk was about as far as anyone would go for something they need. We then sought some form of transportation to reach a place comfortably.
Today, the 30-minute city centers on enabling people to undertake most of their activities within a 30-minute walk, cycle or public transport trip from home. While transport options and access are critical to drive, design and network 30-minute neighborhoods, it takes more than simply work, home, school and shops to make a city lovable and interesting.
Within the area often bounded by a set of geographic landmarks (waterways, freeways or parkland etc.) there needs to be an identifiable place where people feel able to move freely, safely and comfortably. These places need to facilitate and maximise time for interactions with other people, opportunities for families to pause, and to be active. These elements come together to make people healthier, happier and allow for greater civic engagement.
Madrid is a city that has embraced the value of a 30-minute city. High quality community environments emanate a vitality and allow a high level of walkability. These 30-minute nodes also recognise and cater to the cycle of life, integrating different types of housing, services and opportunities to live, work and interact from early childhood through to life post career.
From Madrid to Maitland, Mittagong and Marrickville now is the time to embrace the notion of the 30-minute city and create real value for people.