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Why is the 15-minute city attracting so many conspiracy theories? Plus access for disabled cyclists in the latest episode of the Podcast

Carlton Reid joins us to discuss the opposition to making where we live more liveable, while Kate Ball of Wheels for Wellbeing outlines the barriers disabled cyclists face

Episode 45 of the Podcast is now live, and features a topic that in recent weeks has evolved from being a concept known only to members of the Illuminati – sorry, we mean transport professionals – to join COVID-19 vaccines, climate change and global elites as the latest conspiracy theory embraced by wearers of tinfoil headgear.


We refer of course to 15-minute cities, the subject of a demonstration in Oxford last weekend which saw locals who may have legitimate concerns about low traffic neighbourhoods and similar issues joined by anti-vaxxers, climate change deniers and neo-Nazis, among others, to protest against the city’s plans to combat traffic congestion. Charming company, no?

These plans, they misleadingly claim, will see people confined to within 15 minutes of their homes by the New World Order, with some even drawing comparisons – shameful, unfounded comparisons – to the Warsaw Ghetto in which Jews were confined during World War 2.

After a brief explainer from Simon about what a 15-minute city actually is, and what it most certainly is not – he’s also penned an opinion piece relating how his experience of growing up in what was once billed ‘the Town of the Future ties in with the concept – award-winning transport author and journalist Carlton Reid joins George and Jack to explain just how this conspiracy theory blew up, the reality of the situation and how the hijacking of the issue by conspiracy theorists may influence active travel policy at local government level going forward.

Will decision makers cave in to the protests and threats, however unfounded they may be, or will the entry into the discussion on making our towns and cities better, more liveable places by purveyors of outlandish claims that ‘they’ want to control our lives result in greater support from the general public for 15-minute cities on the grounds that maybe they’re not such a bad thing if that is the type of opposition they attract?

The second segment of the episode, meanwhile, sees Ryan and Jack joined by Kate Ball from Wheels for Wellbeing, the charity that campaigns on behalf of disabled cyclists, who outlines some of the issues they are facing at the moment – including why the barriers people who use cycles as a mobility aid are not just physical ones.

The Podcast is available on Apple PodcastsSpotify and Amazon Music, and if you have an Alexa you can just tell it to play the Podcast. It's also embedded further up the page, so you can just press play.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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