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Embracing Bellevue as a “15-minute city”

Creating a stronger connection between residents and their neighborhood

Last year was unique for all of us, one of tremendous loss, fear, confusion, restrictions and restructuring of our lives and value systems. Prior to 2020, many of us spent time outside our hometowns. We dined, played, toured and worked elsewhere. The concept of a “staycation” had little value.

But the pandemic changed all that.

Suddenly, we were spending more time in our homes, our neighborhoods and our local parks. It reminded me of a 2019 trip to France where my husband and I rented a car and visited many smaller towns. I was impressed that towns there are surrounded by agricultural land and much of the food is produced nearby. Local attractions are celebrated and embraced. People work and play where they live and are devoted to their hometowns.

In 2020, I heard from many Bellevue residents who enjoyed a park or open space near their home for the first time. Small businesses clamored for support and our locals responded. People walked more, biked more, enjoyed their immediate surroundings more. And I heard more expressions of love and appreciation for our city than I ever had before.

Later, I read about the French concept of a “15-minute city” – the idea that you can work and play within a 15-minute bike ride, walk or transit trip from where you live. They believe this creates a stronger connection between residents and their neighborhood.

I am pleased that Bellevue has adopted some of these concepts. For example, the city leases historic agricultural land in the Lake Hills neighborhood to the Bellevue Urban Garden (tBUG). It is an educational outreach effort to promote an understanding of urban agriculture and sustainable farming practices. While much of the produce is donated to local foodbanks, one local restaurant serves tBUG-grown arugula on its pizzas.

Bellevue is known as a “city in a park,” with more parks and green spaces than most cities. Almost every home is within walking distance of a park or trail. It is also one of the most diverse cities in the state of Washington, full of art, food, music and entertainment from many different cultures.

As we continue to improve the city’s pedestrian and bicycle network, I hope residents can easily reach everything they need right here in Bellevue, maybe even within 15 minutes of their home. Our investments in local food, business, arts, affordable housing and multi-modal transportation will support a city that is connected, equitable, enjoyable and sustainable.

  • Mayor of Bellevue, Lynne Robinson
  • Downtown Bellevue Park