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River Roots Redevelopment: The 15-minute City

The 15-minute city has been an intriguing concept for me. As someone who has spent most of my life living in small towns where it takes 20-40 minutes of driving to access things like healthcare, shopping, and employment, I wondered how, or if, a 15-minute city could work in Rural America. But the concept is being put to the test in smaller cities, like Laramie, Wyoming, with success.

The 15-minute city is a concept used in urban planning to ensure that most necessities and services can be easily accessed with a 15-minute walk, bike, or public transit ride. Things like employment, shopping, healthcare, education, and recreation are all considered necessities for quality of life and healthy and sustainable living. So, is this a viable concept for small cities and more rural areas? Let’s take a look at Laramie.

Admittedly, Laramie, Wyoming is larger than our cities here in the Oil Region, but I still think it is a pertinent case study that shows the potential for the future of our region as more rural areas put the concept into practice. In the core area of Laramie, residents have access to numerous businesses, firms, and employment opportunities within a 15-minute walk or bike ride which allows them to spend less time commuting as well as support the local economy. The abundance of retail and food options also offers a valuable economic boost through tourism because visitors can meet most of their needs without leaving the city.

The larger access area–the area outside the core area, but still within a 15-minute drive–contains more retail and service businesses, plus recreational access and more housing. Within these two areas, residents can find most of the goods and services that they need, as well as employment.

Laramie is a geographically isolated city. The nearest major retail and employment hub is Cheyenne which is a 50+ minute drive. Yet, the average commute time for residents is only 12 minutes. A 2019 Inflow/Outflow Report for the City of Laramie showed that nearly 70% of Laramie’s residents also work in the city–a percentage that is quite high. The city has successfully created an ecosystem that sustains businesses and job opportunities that support its residents.

Looking at our cities here in the Oil Region, how can we put the 15-minute city concept into practice? As we continue to push forward, how can we ensure that we are meeting the needs of our residents and be certain that our families can, and more importantly, want to stay here? How can we use examples like Laramie to create our own sustainable and resilient community? 

I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on the 15-minute city and other redevelopment topics! Drop in at one of our weekly coffee chats–an informal public forum–on Fridays in Foxburg from 1-3 p.m. at Divani. Or you can reach out through email!


Rachel Brosnahan is the Community Engagement Coordinator for River Roots Redevelopment. She can be reached by email at

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