Active Travel loves 15-minute communities that stimulate Active Travel.
Our town of Faringdon in Oxfordshire is an ideal candidate to become a 15-minute community. We are gregarious, whether we know it or not. Provide the opportunity and the townspeople flock out to take advantage of the social interaction. With a few tweaks it could be a shining light. Most of the ingredients are already there. Most of us like each other. We smile and wave and shout "lovely day" on brisk mornings because the sun is peering out.
What a wonderful gift for our children. Let's not lose it.
We have: a picturesque market place flanked by pubs and restaurants and coffee shops, a quaint Town Hall on stilts at its centre; an annual festival, annual Bonfire display, cycle Sportive of note, a beer festival of brews (of which there are many) from the surrounding area; football, cricket, rugby, tennis, cycling, and running clubs; the Pump House Project for the young and the more venerable to dance the night (and afternoon) away; the Folly Tower itself which opens every month, the last grand folly in England with views across countless counties; eccentric people who do eccentric things, a town crier, a mayor who appears in full regalia at any opportunity; an exemplar training facility for young cyclists; a great bus service to the centres of Oxford and Swindon; a country park with a fishing lake; a choice of supermarkets; schools at all levels including the U3A; turning on of the Christmas lights; a piano to serenade the Folly; and many many more.
Here's a fantasy example to get Faringdonians thinking ...
It doesn't even have to be perfect weather to attract people to the Market Place but a number of tweaks could make it the envy of the region. A proper 15-minute community would be ideal.
There is a way to explain 15-minute communities that makes it the obvious way to proceed. Or is there? More than anything, it needs the will.
The will existed more than 12 years ago with an early attempt at a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP). Now that this process has been formalised, other towns are cashing in on funding available for implementation. As the saying goes, success breeds success and more funding is likely to follow. What is certain is that those towns that hesitate will fall even further behind.
What more do we need, you may ask?
Some of the pieces will be easier than others to implement so here are a few ideas ...
There are so many things we CAN do and there is no better time to start. Go for attractive infrastructure first and people will start to use it. Look to the medium to long term.