China’s Chengdu strives to build better “15-minute community life circles”

By Song Haoxin, People’s Daily

In 15 minutes, people can walk a kilometer, listen to a couple of songs and browse several short videos. However, in Chengdu, capital of southwest China’s Sichuan province, more can be done in such a short period.

The city has built neighborhoods that enabled its citizens to reach various types of services within a 15-minute walk, such as kindergartens about 100 meters away from residents’ homes, parks for a walk after dinner, nearby shopping streets, and cultural exhibitions that are held in almost every block.

In October 2021, China’s Ministry of Commerce announced the country’s first batch of 30 cities where “15-minute community life circles” would be piloted, and Chengdu was on the list.

The pilot project has brought huge convenience to the people in Chengdu and significantly improved their sense of gain.

Xishulu community is one of the 12 communities in Chengdu to pilot the “15-minute community life circles,” where the idea of “a good life is just outside your doors” is very well explained.

A resident surnamed Ma, who has returned to Chengdu after retiring, now lives in Xishulu community. He quite enjoys living in the pilot community.

“It’s convenient. There are a park, a wet market and a bus station just outside my residential complex. Besides, there’s also a community service center where I can get government services, go shopping and take classes. I learn Chinese painting and calligraphy there. The circle enriches my everyday life,” Ma told People’s Daily.

In the community service center that Ma mentioned, there are a coffee shop, a university for the aged, a canteen, a retail store selling cultural products, an art gallery and other featured businesses.

The center is not only favored by seniors, but also frequented by young people.

“I always visit the community service center after work to have some coffee, go window-shopping and do craft making. It’s a great relaxation,” said a 28-year-old citizen surnamed Liang.

According to an official with the municipal bureau of housing and urban-rural development in Chengdu, the city has established 227 primary-level cultural facilities to build the “15-minute community life circles,” which shall offer not only convenient consumer services, but also accessible cultural experiences for citizens.

So far, the city has built 46 primary-level demonstration cultural centers and carried out beautification programs for 91 communities and over 100 book stores, to build a city-wide network that provides citizens with high-quality public cultural services at their doorsteps.

Chengdu’ Xindu district has developed a mini program that combines online and offline services. On the mini program, citizens can attend classes, watch performances and listen to lectures online.

Besides, to tackle the “last kilometer” problem of public transport, Chengdu launched a community bus service in 2013. Citizens who take the buses with a transit card are eligible to enjoy the service for free.

Different from that of regular bus routes, the average distance between two stations of the community bus service is just around 200 meters, and the stations are close to the gate of community complexes and other populous locations.

At present, 519 buses are running along the routes of the service in Chengdu with nearly 140,000 average passenger volume on a daily basis. Most of the passengers are seniors.

In addition, Chengdu has built multiple greenways, which makes cycling a new fashion in the city.

“The principle of putting people first is a character of public services. Chengdu is going all out to build the ’15-minute community life circles’ in accordance with the resources and industrial features in different districts and counties,” said an official with the Chengdu Municipal Development and Reform Commission.

The city will keep improving its public services system, upgrade the supply of public services, and promote high-quality and balanced development of public services, so as to build itself into a better city that people enjoy living and working in, the official added.