What is a 20-minute city?

What is a 20-minute city?
Basemap 20 minute city


What is a 20-minute city?

Imagine stepping out of your front door and knowing your journey is going to only take 20 minutes. Supermarket? Down the road. Local gym? Round the corner. Doctors surgery? One stop on the bus.

This is called a 20-minute city. The holy grail for city planners and councils. Can your residents get to all the essential amenities within 20 minute walk or public transport. This includes hospitals, shops, work and recreational pit stops such as gyms and green spaces.

But how do city planners and councils know if they are building or improving a 20-minute city?

Sure, they could say the average adult walks X miles in 20 minutes, put their compass point on the residential or development areas, draw big circles around them and call it a day. But that wouldn’t be very accurate now would it?

Using applications like TRACC to calculate the local accessibility of an area can be a substantially more accurate measurement for analysis. By inputting the most recent road network from OS, POI data and postcodes from the census, calculations can show the true picture of local accessibility.

Once the current situation has been established, the focus becomes improving that situation. With regards to choosing a development site, it may be the choice between two options, one of which needed less infrastructure improvement to meet the requirements of new builds, and is therefore the more appropriate for development.

For a council to improve their local accessibility, it would either be building new amenities or improving access, with new or more frequent bus services and stops. Technology is once again on our side, with the ability to model the proposed changes to the networks and services.

The question is – Do they exist?

Throughout 2021 Basemap will be investigating this question with regards to the largest cities around the UK. Each month we will look at a different city and their accessibility to 5 different essential locations. We will then compare them to see which city is truly the BEST … in terms of accessibility anyway.

First city under the spotlight?


Keziah is the Digital Marketing Executive at Basemap Ltd. She has almost 2 years experience in the digital realm after graduating from the University of Plymouth with a BA in Illustration and an MA in Publishing.