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By Bob Oppliger, Education & Advocacy Coordinator, Bicyclists of Iowa City; Board Member, League of American Bicyclists

In March, as part of its Science on Screen program, FilmScene aired a documentary, Bikes vs Cars. The film documents the escalating problem for major urban areas like São Paulo, Brazil; Paris, France; and Los Angeles brought on by cars. The film not only highlights the growing air pollution and congestion, but the unsustainable costs to add roads and accommodations for vehicles. By contrast, bikes are increasingly being accommodated.

So, as we begin National Bike Month, May, how does Iowa City stack up in creating an alternative to the need for cars? Certainly, we’re nowhere close to major urban areas and their response to the issue. Fortunately, a recent concept in urban planning, the 15-minute city, offers an eloquent response to the issue.

The “15-minute city” may be defined as an ideal geography where most human needs and many desires are located within a travel distance of 15 minutes. While automobiles may be accommodated in the 15-minute city, they cannot determine its scale or urban form. Based on automobile travel, most metropolitan areas may be 15-minute cities.


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