All-inclusive 15-minute city? A fine-grained analysis of spatial accessibility inequality in Amsterdam


  • Petar Koljensic TU Delft
  • Thomas Verbeek TU Delft


15-minute city , Accessibility, inequality, data-driven, Amsterdam




The '15-Minute City' is an urban planning concept that seeks to ensure that all essential human needs are within a 15-minute walking or cycling distance (Khavarian-Garmsir et al., 2022). Since it was coined by Carlos Moreno in 2016 (Moreno, 2016) and adopted by the Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo in her 2020 re-election campaign, the concept has received widespread attention among policymakers and academics (Moreno et al., 2021). However, the concept has also received criticism, not the least from the perspective of transport justice (Pozoukidou and Chatziyiannaki, 2021, Willberg, Fink and Toivonen, 2023). One strand of critique focuses on the problematic average person that is central to the concept, while both walking and cycling speeds, but also needs and preferences, are unique to every person. Other criticism is directed towards the concept’s focus on inner city areas with relatively well-off populations, while more peripheral urban areas with another composition of the population are ignored. In the further uptake of the 15-minute city concept, it is vital to consider how it includes different social groups to make sure everyone has fair access to essential amenities and services. An important prerequisite for that is having a detailed understanding of how accessibility is distributed across cities and social groups today.

The primary objective of our study was to estimate differences in accessibility, identify areas and social groups that face accessibility disadvantages, and propose potential solutions for improvement. Through an extensive review of existing literature and study cases related to the 15-minute city framework we identified the lack of a flexible tool that allows for a fine-grained analysis of accessibility. Therefore, we developed the '15-Minute City Index', a tool that assesses the spatial accessibility at a low spatial scale, with dynamic parameters on cycling and walking speed, and a flexible inclusion of specific services and amenities. Our tool calculates accessibility in reverse, starting from the amenities. Different layers of amenities can then be added up in a flexible way, with potentially also including weights, to get a complete spatial overview.

We applied our quantitative evidence-based methodological approach to the case of Amsterdam, a city that is known for its high levels of active travel. By combining small-scale socio-economic and demographic data with our novel 15-minute city index, we could carry out a detailed analysis of inequalities in spatial accessibility.

The results revealed clear disparities in the index among different parts of the city, with population density and street network playing a significant role. Further, the 15-minute city index shows that slightly slower walking or cycling speeds can have a large effect on spatial accessibility. In terms of social groups, the index is lower among populations with non-western migration backgrounds and the elderly.

The study not only presents methodological innovation through a newly developed tool, it also enhances the understanding of spatial accessibility within Amsterdam's context and contributes to transport justice debates on the 15-minute city concept.


Khavarian-Garmsir, A.R., Sharifi, A. and Sadeghi, A. (2022). The 15-minute city: Urban planning and design efforts toward creating sustainable neighborhoods. Cities

Moreno, C. (2016). La ville du quart d'heure: Pour un nouveau chrono-urbanisme. La Tribune. Available at: [31.01.2024].

Moreno, C., Allam, Z., Chabaud, D., Gall, C. and Pratlong, F. (2021). Introducing the ‘15-Minute City’: Sustainability, Resilience and Place Identity in Future Post-Pandemic Cities. Smart Cities

Pozoukidou, G. and Chatziyiannaki, Z. (2021). 15-Minute City: Decomposing the New Urban Planning Eutopia. Sustainability

Willberg, E., Fink, C. and Toivonen, T. (2023). The 15-minute city for all? – Measuring individual and temporal variations in walking accessibility. Journal of Transport Geography