Pleszew becomes Poland’s first ‘15-minute city’
The small, sleepy town of Pleszew in Wielkopolska has recently been gaining recognition worldwide as the first 15-minute ‘city’ in Poland.
The picturesque town has joined an illustrious group of heavyweights including Amsterdam, Paris, Vienna, Budapest, Rome, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Milan in implementing the idea of a 15-minute city in which everything people need for their lives is within 15-minutes on foot, by bike or on public transport.
The news about the town’s actions reached the creator of the fifteen-minute concept, Professor Carlos Moreno from France, who shared the town’s achievement on his Facebook page, and even the Parisian Sorbonne, which wrote about Pleszew on Twitter.
Pleszew, which has a population of 18,000, has been implementing the idea of a fifteen-minute for three years and in doing so the town has worked with the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, the Kraków University of Economics, the University of Warsaw and the Polish Academy of Sciences.
Mayor of Pleszew Arkadiusz Ptak told TFN: “We know we are not a large city, where the 15-minute idea is normally implemented, but we want to take advantage of our compactness and exploit it for the benefit of everyone who lives here.”
While it is true that most parts of the town can already be reached by a short walk or bike ride, the town has worked hard to ensure that public transport connections link important points easily.
The network of bicycle paths in the centre is being expanded and crèches, kindergartens and well-equipped modern schools are accessible from where people live.
The moves are reflected in how the town presents itself. Calling itself Compact Pleszew, the town has reserved the website domain miasto15.pl.
“For us, it is not a fashionable theory or a marketing slogan. Compact Pleszew is a real campaign and a consistently implemented development plan which effectively incorporates the concepts of a green town and an intelligent town,” explains Ptak, who has been mayor of Pleszew for three years.
The strategy is already successful, claims Ptak, who says that more people are coming to Pleszew than leaving. However, he admits that it is a challenge to stem the outflow of young people to nearby Kalisz or further away to Poznań.
The fifteen-minute concept fits into a broader trend in Polish society, which was shown recently in a CBOS survey this year, which indicated that only 13 per cent of Poles would like to live in a large city. The rest said they would prefer to live in the countryside or in a small or medium-sized town or city.
Promoting the concept, the local authority published a film on YouTube a few weeks called Pleszew – Compact City showing how the 15-minute town works in practice.
In the film, a resident is shown living a normal day in the town, easily reaching important places in under 15 minutes.
The young woman starts by walking past the award-winning Bakery Museum housed in a traditional, former bakery.
After a couple of minutes, dressed in a flannel shirt and jeans shorts, she pops into the town hall and registry office where local residents can sort out all necessary administrative matters.
After crossing the market square with its eclectic mix of two-three storey townhouses, she hops on a bike and within a couple of minutes reaches the modern factory of Japanese machine tool manufacturer DMG Mori.
Passing well-equipped recreation and sports facilities as well as a swimming pool with an impressive water slide that writhes like a snake outside the building, she goes for a quick jog around the town's forest park before heading for a session at the music school.
A short minibus ride sees her arriving bang on the fifteen-minute mark at the Zajezdnia Kultury culture centre, which recently opened in refurbished former railway buildings.
After being noticed by concept-founder Professor Morenos, Pleszew has been invited to join a consortium, which will apply to the European Union for funds to implement urban policies in the field of sustainable mobility and housing.