15 Minute Neighborhoods

Jeremy Papasso/ Camera

Destinations Within Reach

How many useful or interesting things can you walk to within 15 minutes of where you live or work? In the early 20th century, before the rise of the automobile, most American neighborhoods were entirely walkable. Residents had access to shopping, restaurants, parks and schools within a 15-minute walk from their front door. They had to, there were no other options. But, during the 1950’s, and America’s post-war suburban sprawl, as more and more families got their own cars, walkable neighborhoods began disappearing.

Based on 2014 data, 26% of Boulder’s population lives in a 15-minute walking neighborhood. But Growing Up Boulder, a child-and youth-friendly city initiative, has brought the 15-minute neighborhood concept to Boulders’ youth. Working with various elementary schools throughout the city, students drew pictures of their neighborhood, walked and photographed areas within 15 minutes of housing or school, and discussed the elements of an ideal neighborhood. The intermediate students also made recommendations that they presented to municipal transportation and community planning staff.

And the city is listening. As part of the East Arapahoe Transportation Plan, a broad reaching plan that affects Arapahoe Ave. from Folsom St. all the way to 75th St., the city hopes to improve the livability of a large swath of one of Boulder’s fastest growing areas. In recent years, the East Arapahoe corridor has become home to more and more destinations, linking residential, commercial and employment areas. To make East Arapahoe a more pleasant 15-minute neighborhood the city is considering adding improved facilities for walking and biking.
So imagine, having everything you need within a 15-minute walk. It just may become a reality.

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