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The 15-Minute City or Fifteen-Minute City is an urban planning concept that argues cities should be constructed so that people can access all the services and supplies they need within a 15-minute walk of where they live. Similar to the walkable cities concept, the 15-minute city has been embraced by many progressives as a good idea. In early 2023, a series of conspiracy theories linked to QAnon speculated that global elites wanted to impose the 15-minute city on people so that they could be more easily controlled and surveilled. In late 2022 and early 2023, the slang term was also referenced in various memes, particularly on Twitter.
The "15-minute city" term was originally coined by Carlos Moreno, an academic and an advisor to Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo. During Hidalgo's tenure, Paris saw notable improvements to bike lanes, as well as the decision to ban cars from the historic heart of the city starting in 2024. Moreno and others argued that the 15-minute city idea could improve the health of residents by encouraging walking, strengthening community bonds and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As the idea became popularized in the early 2020s, and more aligned with climate-conscious advocates of zoning reform, it subsequently generated pushback among some online.
A December 13th, 2022, article in Expose News (a British conspiracist website) accused planners of 15-minute cities of attempting to bring "Climate Change lockdowns," and a graphic referring to the article circulated on Twitter, Instagram and other platforms among conspiracy-minded users shortly after (seen below). The conspiracy centered around the idea that the goal of 15-minute cities would be to combine them with new digital surveillance technologies and create an "open-air prison," though no evidence of this exists.
Jordan Peterson promoted the theory on December 31st, 2022, arguing that the plan would curtail liberty and tell people where to live (seen below, left). He quote-tweeted a user who posted images from the Expose News conspiracy article on his Twitter, however, Peterson and most of the people interacting in the replies to his tweet mischaracterized the plan, saying that people would not be allowed to leave their 15-minute "zones," which was not mentioned in the original concept (seen below, right).
In the late winter of 2022, conspiracy influencers continued to post about the theory online, and it then broke through into the mainstream heading into early 2023. Some mocked those who posted these conspiracy theories, such as Twitter user @0xAltmsivi, who received almost 4,100 likes (seen below, left) in two days for a February 20th, 2023, post, and @ButtPraxis, who received over 300 likes for posting a Breezewood, Pennsylvania meme (seen below, right) about the subject on February 21st.
The conspiracy theory led to real-world protests around this time, including in Oxford, England, where people marched against 15-minute cities on February 19th, 2023 (seen below).
Look at all the extreme far right racists protesting against the 15 minute city scheme in Oxford today. pic.twitter.com/5p14bJJirk
— Mark (@markmaycot) February 19, 2023
 The Verge – Paris Car Ban 2024
 TED – Carlos Moreno
 Twitter – @jordanbpeterson
 Twitter – @SufficientPain1
 Expose News – Governments are about to introduce Climate Change Lockdowns disguised as “15 Minute Cities” under the UN Agenda 2030 directive & WEF Great Reset plan
 iNews – What is a 15-minute city? Meaning of the term and the conspiracy theories explained after Oxford protests
 Twitter – @markmaycot
 Twitter – @0xAlmsivi
 Twitter – @buttpraxis
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Feb 22, 2023 at 01:18PM EST in reply to
Feb 23, 2023 at 03:39PM EST
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