>Americans spend a lot of time in their cars. We drive to work, to school, to do our shopping, to visit our friends -adding up to an average of 1305 trips a year in personal vehicles. These long trips are emotionally exhausting as well as economically draining: suburban residents spend 24 percent and urban residents 16 percent of annual income on transportation.
The city of Portland, Oregon, is hoping to change this situation by making commuting cheap and pleasant through the creation of "20-minute neighborhoods." A 20-minute neighborhood is one in which residents can walk or bike to places and services people visit on a daily basis: transit, shopping, quality food, school, parks, and entertainment. In the jargon of real estate development, these neighborhoods are "mixed use" because they provide diverse activities--living, shopping, working--in close proximity to one another. This contrasts with our conventional notion of the American cityscape, where large residential communities are connected via highways to large shopping centers, which in turn stand miles from large office parks.
The 20-minute neighborhood plan is a part of Portland's long-term strategy to manage the challenges that face many urban environments across the country, including rising energy costs, population growth, roadway congestion, and demand for expensive public transit to connect more and more distant suburbs. In this interview, Portland Mayor Sam Adams speaks with The Atlantic about the benefits of 20-minute neighborhood and how his city is making this vision a reality.