Many residents in Oxford already cycle or walk to get around. (Image: James Coleman/Unsplash)

You’d think the end of lockdowns would also put an end to the Covid conspiracy theorists intent on finding a fascist-communist coup in every public health briefing. But now the keyboard warriors have settled on a new target: 15-minute cities.

The idea is simple and the name is novel but the concept is nothing new. Reducing short car trips improves health through more exercise and less air pollution, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the long-term, indirect costs around healthcare and the environment across society. What they are not, is an attempt to lock people in their neighbourhoods and only give them snapshots of freedom throughout the day. But there’s just no telling some people.

“15-minute cities are concentration camps”, one Twitter user said, spreading conspiracies about an urban planning concept that has existed for years.

A quick search for the term, also known as “20-minute neighbourhoods”, across Twitter, TikTok, or even Google will bring up a number of posts that suggest that it will “restrict” people’s freedom to move around as they please.

It’s even reached the point where Nick Fletcher, the Conservative MP for Don Valley who has previously made headlines for sending transphobic letters to schools and blaming crime rates on more women appearing in films, called 15-minute cities an “international socialist concept” designed to “take away personal freedoms”.

Policies to reduce traffic aren’t an attempt at urban improvement here: they’re the product of an encroaching fascist state, using the “fake” climate crisis to impose lockdowns on everyone.

So, to clear things up, these are the facts.

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