Commentary: Avoiding Ableism in 15-Minute Cities

One author calls on planners to challenge assumptions that exclude people with mobility challenges and other disabilities.

1 minute read

November 21, 2023, 11:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Ground-up view of man using wheelchair waiting to board a light blue bus.

romaset / Adobe Stock

In a piece in The Conversation, Ronald Norman Buliung presents a new take on the 15-minute city, a planning concept that promotes walkable, compact neighborhoods. For Buliung, the approach “relies on ableist assumptions.”

“The 15-minute city relies on residents’ abilities to walk and bike. This raises several questions: What if a resident’s body doesn’t walk or bike in what is considered a normative sense? What if someone uses a mobility device or moves at a slower pace? What if a resident requires public or school transportation vehicles to be adapted? ”

Buliung argues that the existing regulatory frameworks governing accessibility “reveal an emphasis on physical disability and serious limitations in terms of revision and enforcement.” Thus, “It would therefore be foolish to rely on such a relatively inflexibly narrow regulatory environment to make up for any ableist limitations of planning concepts used to shape sustainable, inclusive urban futures.”

Noting that disability is often an afterthought in planning, Buliung suggests that, from the beginning of the planning process, planners should “consider what cities or neighbourhoods might look like when designed with disability in mind.”

Monday, November 20, 2023 in The Conversation

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