Rethinking the mobility and accessibility of the ageing society: 15-minute city model and walkable neighbourhoods for all?


  • Mina Akhavan TU Delft
  • Fulvia Pinto Politecnico di Milano




In recent years, the 15-minute city model, crystallise by Carlos Moreno (Moreno et al., 2021) has gained increasing attention as a model in urban planning and design; it aims to create cities and neighbourhoods where residents have access to basic services within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from their homes. This concept is particularly relevant in the context of ageing societies, where the needs of older adults must be carefully considered to ensure accessibility and inclusivity. The implications of ageing societies are becoming wide and complex, affecting various aspects of our society, including healthcare, labour supply, and social integration.

Being 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes, many cities worldwide have followed the strategies of the X-minute city goals as part of their post-pandemic recovery schemes (Pinto & Akhavan, 2022) and to improve health and well-being.  Although the X-minute-city concept mainly considers spatial and environmental aspects, it neglects socio-economic and demographic elements (e.g., age, gender, income, people with disabilities, etc.). In most cases, the abilities of the users are not taken into account (for example, the walking speed of elderly people could be around 3.5 km/h while the average speed is considered to be 5 km/h).

Within this context, the current paper presents the urban policies and actions of Milan’s 15-minute City, with particular attention to the inclusion of senior citizens. An analysis of the mobility patterns of the ageing society in this paper is presented based on the primary data collected for the project MOBILAGE (Akhavan et al., 2021). The aim is to investigate the criteria used for "Milan, a city of 15 minutes", evaluating the potential advantages and disadvantages of the policies and actions towards older adults (aged 65 years and over). The findings show that this concept cannot serve as a unique urban planning strategy but can be considered a flexible tool to support other planning strategies that share the same objectives and ambitions. As older adults tend to ‘walk’…making walkable neighbourhoods is essential for healthy ageing, promoting their well-being and quality of life. Nevertheless, any intervention suggested by such accessibility analyses should be contextualised and developed with other qualitative assessments and in collaboration with local communities.


Moreno, C., Allam, Z., Chabaud, D., Gall, C., & Pratlong, F. (2021). Introducing the “15-Minute City”: Sustainability, Resilience and Place Identity in Future Post-Pandemic Cities. Smart Cities, 4(1), 93–111.

Pinto, F., & Akhavan, M. (2022). Scenarios for a Post-Pandemic City: Urban planning strategies and challenges of making “Milan 15-minutes city.” Transportation Research Procedia, 60, 370–377.

Akhavan M., Mariotti I., Pinto, F. (2021). Towards an Age-friendly City: exploring ageing mobility in the city of Milan – Verso una città ‘age- friendly’: la mobilità degli anziani nella città di Milano. Urbanistica