Episode 102: CONSPIRACY!

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Doug Gordon: Aaron, Sarah, tell me what you know about 15-minute cities.

Aaron Naparstek: Okay, so I always knew 15 minute-cities as a very kind of nerdy and mundane urban planning concept. The idea being like, let’s try to create neighborhoods where everything is within walking distance of where we live and work.

Sarah: Right. But now I think it’s become shorthand for “The American Gulag.”

Aaron: [laughs] Wow. That’s a leap.

Sarah: Yeah.

Doug: This is The War on Cars. I’m Doug Gordon. With me are my co-hosts Aaron Naparstek and Sarah Goodyear. In this episode, we’re gonna look at the facts behind the 15-minute city concept, how it became the latest grist for the culture war mill and what, if anything, can be done to bring this whole discussion back to reality.

Sarah: But first, if you like what we do here and want to support The War on Cars, go to TheWaronCars.org, click “Support Us” and sign up on Patreon today. You’ll get exclusive bonus content and ad-free versions of episodes like this one. Plus, we will send you stickers.

Doug: So I thought it would be good to start the episode just with some basic facts to kind of set the table. Aaron, you said you know the 15-minute city concept as this kind of mundane urban planning concept. What do you know about that?

Aaron: Yeah, sure. So I remember in the sort of early- to mid-early-2000s, a lot of cities were coming out with plans to make themselves more walkable. And a lot of these plans were called 15-minute city plans or some variation of that where, you know, the idea being like, Americans are very car dependent, and if you want to do your basic tasks of your life, you have to get in a car and you have to drive distances. Wouldn’t it be nicer if we had a 15-minute city where a person could walk out of their door and get to their job or buy a tube of toothpaste or buy a cup of coffee, do the things they need to do in their daily lives? It was not some gigantic conspiracy or evil plot. It seemed like a pretty nice goal generally speaking.

Sarah: Oh. Oh, how wrong you are.

Doug: But I’m a global elite.

Aaron: You know? Like, I don’t know.

Sarah: Yeah. And then it has, very quickly it seems, morphed into the vehicle for some deep fears and resentments in the global community.

Doug: Yeah, I think it’s sort of like that old quote about, like, how did you go bankrupt? You know, very slowly and then all at once. And that’s sort of what has happened. So one of the earliest 15-minute city concepts actually comes from Portland, Oregon—no surprise. And they had a goal for 90 percent of their residents to live in what the city planning department actually called 20-minute neighborhoods.

Aaron: Mm-hmm.

Doug: So this is in 2009, and they set a goal for this to happen by 2030. The idea being places where people could walk or bike for all of their—this is really important—non-work needs. So school, recreation, basic shopping, some medical care, things like that.

Sarah: This concept came up alongside a concept that was in the more commercialized world: Walk Score, which was this way of rating neighborhoods according to an algorithm of, you know, how many of these kinds of services and amenities were within walking distance of an apartment. And Realtors, real estate agents became quite enthusiastic about using Walk Score as a selling point for real estate, so that’s a way that it was expressed in the private sector.

Doug: You’re getting way ahead of yourself.

Sarah: Oh, sorry. [laughs]

Doug: Because I actually think this feeds into the conspiracy a little bit, that walkability and bikeability is this, like, elite amenity that happens in, you know, the kinds of neighborhoods where wealthy people now live. Now that’s because there’s so few of these neighborhoods—especially in America. But yes, I think that that’s a huge part of it. This happened at the same time.

Aaron: And also what was happening at the same time is a lot of long-term sustainability plans, right? Like, so a lot of these cities were coming out with climate plans, and they were like, “Part of our urban climate plan, we’re gonna have 15-minute neighborhoods,” or, you know, whatever.

Doug: Yeah, and that was part of Portland’s plan. Like, they have always been focused on, like, containing growth, making it sustainable. Traffic congestion is a huge problem in cities like Portland and cities all over the US. In 2015, Boulder, Colorado, they proposed a 15-minute city plan. It was part of their comprehensive housing strategy, that Boulder has a huge housing affordability problem and has for a long time. So this was a part of a strategy to make mixed income, mixed use, walkable neighborhoods where everybody had kind of equal access to good amenities.

Doug: The next year, 2016 in Shanghai, they had something called the “15-minute community life circle,” which is just the same idea. And, you know, in Shanghai and other Chinese cities where urban planning has just demolished a lot of traditional neighborhoods, they said, “Hey, wait a minute. What if instead of this kind of top-down mega-project, we took residents’ needs into consideration?” And so, you know, elderly people get to have a recreation center, a health center, so they didn’t have to travel long distances to get the care that they needed. So pretty, like Aaron said, mundane stuff. But the real kind of father of the 15-minute city concept, the person who’s really popularized it recently is Carlos Moreno. He’s a French Colombian urbanist. He teaches in Paris at the Sorbonne. This has kind of been his big thing.

[ARCHIVE CLIP, Carlos Moreno: I call it the 15-minute city. Cities should be designed or redesigned so that within the distance of a 15-minute walk or bike ride, people should be able to reach the essence of what constitutes the urban experience—to access work, housing, food, health, education, culture and leisure.]

Doug: So this is a concept that he really started introducing in 2016. Anne Hidalgo, when she was running for reelection for mayor of Paris, she adopts it as part of her platform in 2020. C40 Cities, which is the global network of mayors and other city leaders that was formed to share strategies to address climate change, they endorsed the concept, and it’s been a core tenet of the C40 Cities’ platform. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change also has taken some of what Moreno has worked on and has put it into a lot of their work. Aaron, you might remember Shaun Donovan, the former [HUD] secretary.

Aaron: Oh yeah, he was my candidate briefly for mayor. I liked him because he was very policy wonky and policy forward and had no chance of winning because of that. [laughs]

Doug: He ran for mayor in 2021 in the Democratic primary, and he said we should make more New York City neighborhoods 15-minute city neighborhoods.

Aaron: Well, it didn’t—that didn’t work as far as a electoral promise.

Doug: I wonder if we could just stop and say, like, what do you think of the 15-minute city concept?

Aaron: Any big urban planner coming in has to grapple with the fact that, like, there’s a lot of mistrust for urban planners, right? I mean, like, urban planners basically destroyed America throughout the 20th century. That’s what our podcast is about.

Sarah: Yeah, right. That’s true.

Aaron: So you can have a completely innocuous idea like the 15-minute city, and it is sort of understandable why a lot of people would be like, “Yeah, we saw what you guys did when you came through here with your highways and your parking lots last time. Like, no thanks.”

Sarah: Yeah.

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Doug: This is not a new concept. There was a 1920s urban planner named Clarence Perry. He came up with the concept of the “neighborhood unit,” which is essentially a 15-minute city. He basically, like, took an illustration—a school in the middle and drew a quarter-mile radius out from that school and then made that into a circle. And so the idea was in this neighborhood unit, schools would be in the middle, kids would be able to walk no more, you know, than a half mile from one side of the unit to the other. Arterial streets would be placed on the edges, on the perimeter, which would restrict or even eliminate unnecessary through traffic, what we call rat running today.

Doug: Now the other idea was that the streets inside the circle would be designed so that they would invite walking and cycling. Shopping would sort of be kept to the edges, also to discourage traffic. And then you would devote 10 percent of the neighborhood to parks and open space. So this is not a new concept. And even back then, there were tons of criticism about this idea that, you know, you’re gonna lock people out of their neighborhoods. It’s gonna be exclusive. This is all the same stuff you hear, even in a less conspiratorial way with the idea that if you create 15-minute cities, they’re really just gonna be tools for gentrification. It is exactly the same. Nothing ever changes, you know, a hundred years later.

Doug: And so, you know, these plans are really common. If you go to Groningen in the Netherlands, from 1977 they’ve had their traffic circulation plan that basically doesn’t allow drivers to very easily get from one section of the city to the other. You have to go out to the ring road, go around and then go back in. But if you’re on a bike, you can just go from one to the other. If you’re on a bus, if you’re walking, it’s super simple. Ghent in Belgium in 2017, they implemented a traffic circulation plan. It divided the city into zones. Same concept: you can’t drive from one to the other, but you can go out to the ring road, go around, go back in. But biking, walking, taking transit much easier. Barcelona super blocks? That’s a big one. It’s kind of the same idea. London and other UK cities, they’ve been installing low-traffic neighborhoods. This has been met with a kind of “This is gonna kill jobs. How are elderly people gonna get around” controversy that’s no different than your standard bikelash, basically.

Aaron: Right. Okay, so this idea has been around for a long time. What is it about the 15-minute city that just amped things up and made people so kind of crazy and conspiratorial?

Doug: Take all the things that I’ve said and pick out some of the details. So you’ve got the United Nations, you’ve got China, you’ve got C40 Cities.

Aaron: Okay. We’ve got a lot of key words there.

Doug: Yeah.

Aaron: Red lights flashing.

Doug: C40 Cities. Who is the chairman of the board of C40 cities? Michael Bloomberg. You know, you have academics, the people that used to be dismissed as pointy-headed intellectuals who are out of step with real citizens. Sort of Aaron like you were saying, the—you know, the urban planners who did so much destruction, we’re gonna trust them?

Aaron: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: I think these people might be “cosmopolitan.”

Doug: Let’s just say “Jews.” We mean Jews. Like, why are we beating around the bush here?

Sarah: [laughs]

Doug: Yeah. So that kind of brings us to the mother of all traffic plans that has really kicked off the 15-minute city conspiracy and launched this from just a urban planning concept to the realm of “They’re coming for your freedoms!” And that’s in Oxford. Have either of you been to Oxford in England?

Aaron: I’ve never been. I’ve always wanted to go.

Sarah: No. It sounds delightful, but I’ve never been there.

Aaron: Very Hogwarts-y there. That’s my impression.

Sarah: Oh, yes. Quite, quite so.

Doug: Yeah. I mean, my—I have been there, and if you remember the novel or the movie Goodbye Mr. Chips, which is about, like, a British boarding school, it’s like professors biking around and students biking around. Tons of bikes. It’s not a very big city, about 160,000 people, but it has got the worst traffic because it’s these medieval streets, right? This is not a city that was designed for cars in any way. So last year, a plan was proposed to institute a traffic circulation plan, much like Ghent. And the plan is to divide the center of Oxford into six districts. This is from the Times of London, and it explains the plan.

Sarah: “Residents will be allowed to use their cars as much as they like within their district, and will be given free permits allowing them to drive to other districts on 100 days a year. If they exceed this limit, they will be fined—possibly £70 a journey or a day. A maximum of three permits a household will be allowed if there are several adults with cars registered to the address. The restrictions will take effect between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm, seven days a week in four of the six districts, but not on Sundays and the other two. Buses, coaches, taxis, delivery vans, HTVs, motorbikes, mopeds and bicycles will be exempt. And there will also be exceptions for blue badge”—that’s disability placard—”holders and people with caring responsibilities.”

Doug: So in Ghent and in Groningen, what they did was they changed the direction of some streets, and they put design elements in that made it impossible for you to drive in a straight line across the city. What they want to do in Oxford is use technology. It’s more camera license plate readers and things like that that will say, “Does this person, does this driver have a permit to drive from zone to zone? Have they exceeded their hundred pass limit?” Et cetera. I mean, it’s kind of messy, to be honest. I think it’s not the best plan.

Aaron: Yeah.

Sarah: It’s too much math.

Doug: It’s too much math. And the numbers and the limits, whether it’s a hundred or a thousand, it just starts getting people thinking, like, “Wait, you’re putting a limit on how often I can drive from one place to another?”

Aaron: And also districts? You’re gonna be in one district and your friends live in a different district and you need a permit to travel to these districts? It’s a bad look.

Sarah: Yeah. It is.

Aaron: Although I have to say this is exactly how I would write this policy.

Sarah: [laughs]

Doug: [laughs]

Aaron: It’s exactly what I want.

Doug: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s kind of a mistake to just base—what they should do is just say, “Look, cars are bad. We want less driving in the city. We’re gonna make it harder for you to drive from one side of the city to the other within the city if you don’t have to. We’re not going to do this permitting system, which just sounds absurdly complicated.” That’s what they should do. But yes, I think it opened up this idea that, like, you know, bureaucrats want to control how often you can go see Grammy.

Aaron: Yeah.

Sarah: Yeah. And I mean, that’s the risk, right, that planners run whenever they put these things out there is that they know that they can be misinterpreted and hijacked for other purposes. And I guess it’s just disappointing that they didn’t see that coming.

Aaron: Yeah, I can see why people are upset with this policy. I mean, it’s like, if it’s keeping track of your travels and limiting you to a hundred days a year, then it’s clearly kind of—it’s just keeping track of you all the time somehow. And I can just imagine—you know, that’s upsetting to people. And it can be used for nefarious purposes, as Sarah was suggesting.

Sarah: Yeah. And I would just like to say, look how reasonable we’re being here. We’re saying well, yeah, this is the kind of idea that we might like, but hey, we understand that some people might have a problem with this and well, let’s rethink that.

Doug: It’s called, Sarah, good faith opposition.

Sarah: Oh!

Doug: Yes.

Sarah: Okay.

Doug: I mean, I think, like, you know, to go back to the Ghent and the Groningen examples, if you go to those cities and you just are on one side of the city and you type into Google Maps or whatever your destination, you will be shown different options. Driving will take you 25 minutes, cycling will take you 12. And then you say to yourself, “Huh. I could bike, so I will do that instead.” But if you can’t, you say, “Okay, I’m gonna drive and it’s gonna take me 25 minutes.” You don’t say to yourself, “Well, I’m on number 98 of 100 driving passes, and it’s still only July. I’ve got the rest of the year left. What am I gonna do?” So I do think that is part of the problem, and has been a black hole into which all of these conspiracy theories have been sucked.

Aaron: Hmm.

Sarah: All right. So what happened when they proposed this?

Doug: Okay. So, you know, I think New Yorkers are really familiar with, like, New York Post/ Daily News tabloid culture, but we’ve got nothing on the Brits when it comes to tabloid culture. You know, we’ve got Fox News, but they’ve got multiple Murdoch-owned media outlets. And this has become fodder for that media empire in so many different ways. So here’s Mark Dolan on GB News.

[ARCHIVE CLIP, Mark Dolan: What can you do in 15 minutes? Empty the washing machine and hang up your fresh laundry? Read a couple of chapters of your favorite book. Watch half an episode of How I Met Your Mother? Well, creepy local authority bureaucrats would like to see your entire existence boiled down to the duration of a quarter of an hour, with the arrival of so-called 15 minute cities. This dystopian plan will see roads in some of Britain’s most iconic towns and cities being blocked off, with cars being restricted to certain areas, all overseen by number plate recognition cameras installed everywhere with a surveillance culture that would make Pyongyang envious.]

Sarah: First of all, wow. Like, the sort of measuring my life in half episodes of How I Met Your Mother is really distressing.

Doug: [laughs]

Aaron: [laughs]

Sarah: But, like, I mean, yes, time exists. I don’t know what to say. Like, it’s you’re being boiled down to 15 minute segments. It doesn’t make any sense, actually, at all.

Doug: Yeah. It becomes like a big game of telephone where the idea of wouldn’t it be nice if everything you needed was no more than 15 minutes away from where you lived becomes start the clock, you’ve only got 15 minutes to go get that cup of coffee and be back in your home.

Aaron: It’s not exactly good faith argumentation here. You know, he’s not really engaging with the policy or, like, “Okay, 15-minute-cities. Like, how can we make that better? Maybe the license plate tracking isn’t the way to do it. Let’s have a discussion about how to make this work.” That’s not what we’re doing here, folks.

Doug: Yeah. And then there’s Katie Hopkins, who’s a British media personality, right wing commenter.

Sarah: Really, really—like, I only know about this person because I’m on Twitter, and she’s—she’s not a good person.

Doug: Yeah. There’s some antisemitic stuff that she’s trafficked in, some Islamophobia. She’s not a great person. She’s a former contestant on the British version of The Apprentice.

Sarah: What a coincidence.

Aaron: Hmm.

Doug: Yeah.

[ARCHIVE CLIP, Katie Hopkins: You will only have 15 minutes of freedom here in the UK. So let me tell you the plan. The plan is in Oxford—and this has just been passed by the council—to divide the city into six parts. So one, two, three, four, five, six. And you will only have the freedom to operate in the part that you live. So this is you. The idea is that everybody will live within 15 minutes of the things they need. 15 minutes of the school, 15 minutes of the doctors, 15 minutes of a supermarket. And if you want to travel to the other zones in your city or maybe soon your town, you will have to go out an approved route. You will have to journey around the outside of the city in order to reenter another section of the city. This plan is supposed to be saving the planet, and the idea is that you won’t simply be able to cross over into other sections of your city anymore. So if your mother, for example, lives over here, you wouldn’t be able to just go across and see her.]

Doug: I think the really interesting thing to point out here, and this kind of gets to the moto-normativity that we talked about in a previous episode [Car Brain with Dr. Ian Walker], this only applies to drivers. If your granny lives in one zone and you live in the neighboring zone, you can just walk across and go see her. You can bike across, you can take a bus across. But if you need to drive, you have to go out over and down. It’s just the default way of thinking that driving is freedom, driving is how you get around, how everyone gets around.

Sarah: On every trip.

Doug: And they’re taking that freedom away from you.

Sarah: Yeah. I mean, that’s what I kept wanting to break in and shake her and say is, “This all only applies if you are encased in a vehicle.” Like, you can go anywhere you want if you’re not encased in a vehicle. But I mean, that changes things.

Aaron: It also—I mean, you could take her very scary-sounding narration and you could basically imagine that she’s describing like a transit trip. You know, like, “To get anywhere, you’re going to have to use a pass. You’re going to have to slip it through a card reader.”

Sarah: “And you’ll be photographed.”

Aaron: “You’re going to be forced to go into the center of the city before you’re allowed to go back out to the part of the city you want to go to.”

Doug: [laughs] Yes.

Aaron: “This is what they’re trying to do with you with the subway!”

Doug: Yeah. I also think, like, she is right. She is describing something that is true. You know, I think there’s sometimes when we talk about conspiracy theories, we’re talking about people think the moon landing was faked, or that the CIA killed Kennedy or Elvis is still alive—the CIA killed Kennedy, but that’s a whole different—I’m kidding!

Aaron: True.

Doug: You know, there’s more that’s true to this than is not. And it’s the part that’s not that is a small portion of it, but is causing the most harm in how we talk about it.

Aaron: I think there’s definitely some kind of lesson here for urban planners and policymakers. You know, like, there’s something about, like, the sort of the abstraction of the 15-minute city creates all this opportunity for…

Doug: Oh, we’re not even at the most abstract stuff yet.

Aaron: Okay. Let’s just get to it.

Sarah: All right. Let’s keep going.

Doug: But I think the biggest marker, the thing that launched this into the conspiracy stratosphere, was a tweet from Jordan Peterson. Do one of you want to explain to our listeners who Jordan Peterson is?

Aaron: How do you even explain him? Just a kind of a Canadian, right-wing masculinist kind of weirdo theorist academic or something?

Doug: Yeah, he’s a psychologist.

Sarah: Yeah.

Doug: He’s written a bunch of books.

Sarah: He talks about meat a lot, I feel like. [laughs]

Doug: Yeah.

Aaron: He went on an all-meat diet, I believe. That was part of his schtick.

Sarah: That’s it. Yeah.

Doug: Yeah.

Sarah: It’s about being a man. It’s very much about being a man. He’s a professional man. [laughs]

Doug: [laughs]

Aaron: Okay, so here is Jordan Peterson’s tweet. “The idea that neighborhoods should be walkable is lovely. The idea that idiot tyrannical bureaucrats can decide by fiat where you’re allowed to drive is perhaps the worst imaginable perversion of that idea. And make no mistake, it’s part of a well-documented plan.”

Doug: Okay, so this is a quote tweet. And I think it’s worth maybe us describing the tweet that he is commenting on. Sarah, do you want to give that a go?

Sarah: All right. So it is a quote tweet, and it says, “It’s already happening … #GreatReset, #JailSchwab.” And then there are these pictures. There’s a picture of a city center with different-colored sectors and other sort of, you know, diagrams of what looks like a city and people. And then there’s this smiling young man, and it says, “You’ll own nothing and you’ll be happy.” And then it says underneath, “Based on the input of members of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Councils.”

Doug: So I really want you to hold on to that “Own nothing, be happy part.” And we’re gonna talk about that hashtag, “The Great Reset.” What do you guys know about the World Economic Forum? Because that is what is mentioned in that little screenshot there.

Sarah: Isn’t that the thing that happens in Davos?

Doug: Yes. They host Davos every year in January.

Sarah: Okay. All right, so they’re just a bunch of, like, colossally rich people who are destroying the planet in various ways? No, I mean, that’s my opinion of the World Economic Forum. I mean, they’re a bunch of rich people.

Aaron: Yeah, I know that the World Economic Forum has been trying to dip a toe into the progressive transportation front. They say they’re trying to reduce automobile dependance, but at the same time, it’s a very, like—I know their approach is very, like, tech oriented.

Sarah: Yeah. And also they do fly everywhere in private jets.

Aaron: True that.

Sarah: And I mean, you know, I think they’ve come in for a lot of very deserved criticism from the left, and from people like Greta Thunberg about their hypocrisy on various climate matters, you know? Yeah, it’s easy to not like the World Economic Forum, no matter which side of the fence you’re on.

Doug: Yeah so what became the World Economic Forum was founded in 1971 by Klaus Schwab, and he’s the # JailSchwab there. Schwab was born in Germany in 1938. He’s raised in Switzerland. His dad was the managing director of an engineering firm in Zurich. There are all of these rumors and conspiracy theories that his father was a Nazi, but that is not true. The family was deeply monitored by the Gestapo. His mother had a Swiss German accent, and she was interrogated. There’s all these stories about his upbringing, none that suggest that he himself or his father was a Nazi. I think at that time he probably did business with the Nazis, as lots of people did. But no, he was not—Klaus Schwab is not a Nazi.

Doug: He is a professor of business policy at the University of Geneva for a while, founds the World Economic Forum, and then yes, they have this annual gathering in Davos. And really, the important thing and where it ties into this idea of the Great Reset is that every year they just have a theme for Davos. And we don’t tend to focus on that when we see the coverage. It’s really just like the billionaires and their private jets. But 2010 was “The Global Redesign.” 2019 was “Globalization 4.0: the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” It’s like TED talks for rich people. That’s what the World Economic Forum is. It’s not very substantive. There’s not much there there. It’s just a thing for rich people, for billionaires to hobnob and share ideas, and hopefully exert some influence over global conversations. But every now and then they’ll release something and then have to kind of pull it back because it becomes red meat for the conspiracy theorists. And the really big one before the pandemic was this 2016 piece written by Ida Auken, who is a member of the Danish Parliament. It’s called “Welcome to 2030: I Own nothing. Have No Privacy And Life Has Never Been Better.

Sarah: “Welcome to the year 2030. Welcome to my city—or should I say, “our city.” I don’t own anything. I don’t own a car. I don’t own a house. I don’t own any appliances or any clothes.

Sarah: “Everything you considered a product, has now become a service. We have access to transportation, accommodation, food and all the things we need in our daily lives. One by one all these things became free, so it ended up not making sense for us to own much.

Aaron: “Sometimes I use my bike when I go to see some of my friends. I enjoy the exercise and the ride. It kind of gets the soul to come along on the journey. Funny how some things seem never seem to lose their excitement: walking, biking, cooking, drawing and growing plants. It makes perfect sense and reminds us of how our culture emerged out of a close relationship with nature.

Sarah: “In our city we don’t pay any rent, because someone else is using our free space whenever we do not need it. My living room is used for business meetings when I am not there. Once in a while, I will choose to cook for myself. It is easy—the necessary kitchen equipment is delivered at my door within minutes. Why keep a pasta-maker and a crepe cooker crammed into our cupboards? We can just order them when we need them.

Aaron: “Shopping? I can’t really remember what that is. For most of us, it has been turned into choosing things to use. Sometimes I find this fun, and sometimes I just want the algorithm to do it for me. It knows my taste better than I do by now.”

Doug: It kind of goes on like that for a while. And by the way, I just want to say “Why keep a pasta maker and a crepe cooker crammed into our cupboards” is a really great vocal exercise. And we should use that. “Crepe cooker crammed into our cupboards.” Say that five times fast.

Sarah: I think if I had thought about it—I read it absolutely cold, and if I had known it was coming, I wouldn’t have been able to say it.

Doug: So it basically goes on to say that, you know, we have no privacy. There are a lot of problems with this, there are all of these people who don’t live in the city, who’ve been left behind, who felt, quote, “obsolete and useless when robots and AI took over.” And yeah, I don’t have any privacy. I’m registered everywhere I have to go. I’m tracked by all of these corporations.

Sarah: She says here that everything I do, think and dream of is recorded.

Doug: Yeah, and that is a kind of dystopian version of what we are living through now, right? Like, when you buy something on Amazon, it’s tracked. When you put your feelings up on Facebook, it’s tracked. When you post something to Instagram or TikTok, like, all of this data is being gathered and mined about you. And so there is an element of reality to this, but it’s really just a thought exercise of, like, if we go down this road where everything is a service, where transportation is a service, it’s bike share, it’s a car that you summoned to your door, we all live in, like, Airbnbs or something like that, what would we be giving up and what is the end game here? And it’s really just a thought exercise. Ida Auken has come out and said, “Yeah, this was just like a poorly executed essay. This is not a plan on the part of the World Economic Forum. This is not what anyone wants to see happen. And in fact, yes, if you read the latter half of my essay, it’s basically saying, this kind of sucks.”

Sarah: Don’t they teach you in Danish schools that nobody reads the latter half of anything?

Doug: Yes. Nobody reads behind the headlines in America.

Sarah: [laughs]

Aaron: Yeah.

Doug: So that was 2016. In 2020, the pandemic hits, right? And there are lockdowns of varying degrees depending on where you live, especially in China, in many European cities, right? Like, you had to have papers to get out and have an excuse to go to the doctor or things like that.

Sarah: And often there was a limit. Like in Paris, I think it was the couple of kilometers or something. I mean, there was a—there was a space limit, you know, a radius.

Doug: Yeah. So if you are conspiracy minded, this is all just stuff coming true that the World Economic Forum was talking about as far back as 2016 even. You know, I think we sort of forget how quickly the conspiracy theories ramped up. There was that YouTube movie, it was shared on Facebook everywhere called Plandemic.

Aaron: Mm-hmm.

Doug: That came out on May 4, 2020. So this is all happening really fast, and there’s a lot of confusion, people are traumatized, right? It was bad. So then in June, 2020, the World Economic Forum partners with then Prince Charles and they release a video. They’re basically looking ahead and saying we can’t all gather in Davos because the whole world is shut down. So they announced their theme for their sort of next online gathering, and it’s called “The Great Reset.” And they produced this video that is sent out onto YouTube and nothing ever bad happened when that was done.
[ARCHIVE CLIP, Prince Charles: We have an incredible opportunity to create entirely new, sustainable industries investing in nature as the true engine of our economy.]

[ARCHIVE CLIP: The current global crisis has disrupted every aspect of our lives, but it has also presented us with an extraordinary opportunity: a chance to reset and accelerate efforts to improve the state of our world.]

Sarah: Fire up the tumbrils.

Doug: Yeah. This is the worst episode of The Crown yet. It’s really bad, yeah.

Sarah: [laughs] Yeah, I mean, partnering with Prince Charles is just—don’t do it, folks.

Doug: Yeah. And we’ll put a link. If you watch this video, there’s nothing of substance. He’s just saying we need to rethink our global economy and we need to—it’s an opportunity to change the way things work.

Sarah: It’s laughable is the idea that anyone would believe that the kind of people who are in the World Economic Forum would want to change the status quo that has made them so fabulously wealthy.

Aaron: Just optics-wise, if I’m producing The Great Reset YouTube video, I’m getting The Rock to narrate it, you know? Like, give me, like, The Rock or…

Doug: This all goes very definitely with The Rock.

Aaron: I mean, you do The Rock and it’s like, maybe everybody gets on board.

Doug: Okay, so then July 9, 2020. Again, we’re just mere months into the worst parts of the pandemic. A book is released, it’s called COVID 19: The Great Reset. It’s by Klaus Schwab and a coauthor released by the World Economic Forum. Do you guys know anything about this book? Have you ever heard about it?

Sarah: No. I somehow was just too busy being traumatized by the pandemic.

Aaron: [laughs] Yeah.
Doug: It’s just filled with a lot of platitudes. There’s nothing really that interesting or specific about it. It’s basically saying, yeah, this is a huge crisis. It’s laid bare economic inequality, health outcomes that are very disparate depending on your economic class, your nationality, climate. It has shown us, you know, that there was eight percent carbon emissions reduction in the first few months of the pandemic, and that’s kind of showing us that maybe that’s not enough for us to beat the climate crisis. We’re gonna have to do more.

Doug: And I think, you know, one of the big things that the World Economic Forum and the Great Reset book advocate for are public-private partnerships as solutions to societal problems. You know, we’ve got all these companies and technologies that are emerging like AI and digital health trackers and all this stuff, and we could—we could harness that power for good to solve a lot of the world’s problems. Like, this is not surprising. These are billionaires who have billionaires’ interests at heart. The book is really boring. It’s 100 pages, and it just felt like a slog. Henry Kissinger is quoted a lot, which I guess is by itself…
Aaron: Always a good sign.

Doug: Yeah, all by itself.

Sarah: They’re really bringing out the big guns: Henry Kissinger, Prince Charles. This is, you know, some all-star shit.

Aaron: Just the most popular entertainers of our time.

Doug: [laughs] And the thing is that a lot of the language in the book is just so generic. And it’s so generic that it’s the kind of stuff that other world leaders say. So one of the big terms used in the book and used by the WEF is “Build back better.” In July of 2020, there’s a post on their site, it was called “To Build Back Better We Must Reinvent Capitalism.” And of course, Build Back Better becomes the name of the Biden administration’s legislative package that included the American Rescue Plan. So a lot of people will say, oh, you know, they’re coordinating, they’re colluding to make this big plan.

Sarah: It’s just generic, alliterative wonkery.

Doug: So then in September 2020, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he’s giving a speech online to the UN, and he uses language that some people believe is a sign that he is a puppet of the World Economic Forum.

[ARCHIVE CLIP, Justin Trudeau: We need to work together, and not just on vaccines. Canada believes that a strong, coordinated response across the world and across sectors is essential. This pandemic has provided an opportunity for a reset. This is our chance to accelerate our pre-pandemic efforts to reimagine economic systems that actually address global challenges like extreme poverty, inequality and climate change.]

Doug: So if you’re inclined to believe that there’s some sort of global force instituting plans, there is your proof of it.

Aaron: It’s too bad because, you know, it’s sort of like what you would hope world leaders would be talking about after the pandemic.

Doug: Yeah, exactly.

Aaron: And, you know, it’s like, so easy to turn it into some nefarious conspiracy. But here we are.

Sarah: And this was all happening at the same time—and I think part of the reason that I was distracted from it is it was happening at the same time as Black Lives Matter, which was sort of again, this reckoning with the idea that we have to make systemic change that became very, very threatening to people.

Doug: Yeah. And the Black Lives Matter thing and the George Floyd protests of that summer were a big part of this too, because they’re basically saying like, “Hey, there’s this pandemic and you’re all supposed to be indoors. But all of these Black Lives Matter protesters are gathering outside and we were told there are no large gatherings allowed.” So this becomes part of the conspiracy that, you know, the global elites are using these crises to manipulate people into top-to-bottom societal change in ways that might not work out so well for the people on the bottom.

Doug: So then yeah, your normal kind of rogue’s gallery gets in there. Glenn Beck writes a book—it came out last year, it’s called The Great Reset: Joe Biden and the Rise of 21st Century Fascism. Tucker Carlson is railing about this every night on his show. Joe Rogan, Alex Jones, he also writes a book. It’s called The Great Reset and the War for the World. And so you can just see how this emptiness of this idea of The Great Reset, which sounds bad actually, becomes fodder for folks like him. So I want to give an example of sort of that emptiness and how it is used against the World Economic Forum to fuel this conspiracy. Does one of you want to read this excerpt from The Great Reset by Klaus Schwab?

Aaron: “The pandemic struck at a time when many different issues, ranging from climate change activism and rising inequalities to gender diversity and MeToo scandals, had already begun to raise awareness and heighten the criticality of stakeholder capitalism and environmental, social and governance considerations in today’s interdependent world. Nobody can deny that a company’s fundamental purpose can no longer be simply the unbridled pursuit of financial profit. It is now incumbent upon them to serve all their stakeholders, not only those who hold shares.”

Doug: Sarah, Do you want to read the excerpt from Alex Jones’s book?

Sarah: “Remember when I said that the globalists will use any issue to promote their plans? There’s COVID 19, climate change, inequality, gender diversity, and now the MeToo movement—all part of the globalist plan to create maximum chaos and fear, the better to implement their authoritarian agenda. The issue really doesn’t matter because the answer is always the same: globalism.”

Doug: [laughs]

Sarah: [laughs]

Doug: You’re not hopped up on supplements?

Sarah: No, I need my—I need my steroid…

Doug: Right. So you can see how that just vacuous language of The Great Reset book by Klaus Schwab, you just tweak it just a little bit and you’ve got—you’ve got your conspiracy, right?

Sarah: Right. I mean, the lesson is that if you’re just spouting bullshit, and what you really want is just to be able to continue making money hand over fist for yourself, for all the rest of eternity, that people might actually pick up on it.

Aaron: I really think the conspiracy guys could basically turn anything into a conspiracy theory.

Doug: Yeah. Yeah. A hundred percent.

Aaron: You know what I mean? It’s just like—I mean, you know, I see Schwab as like, yeah, he’s like a global elite, wealthy capitalist guy who’s like—but, you know, he’s trying to have a broader outlook. You know, he’s, like, trying to maintain his capitalist framework, but with, you know, like, we can’t sell tuna fish if the whole fishery gets decimated. We need to think about, like, the ocean as like the fish are a stakeholder. I don’t know. Like …

Sarah: Well, yeah.

Aaron: You know what I mean?

Sarah: But also, he’s old, and he’s, like, been around and he’s seen that doing things the old way maybe doesn’t work. And also because he’s old, he’s at a part of his life where he can say, like, “Oh, now I’ve gotten all this wealth, and I can reflect a little bit more on whether that was done in the right way.” I mean, that’s what people do when they get older.

Doug: I think you might actually be, like, a little too …

Sarah: Too nice?

Doug: Yeah. Like, these billionaires are the reason we have climate change. They’re the reason we have all of these problems. And what they’re trying to do is saying, “Hey, while you’re all out there freaking out about, you know, police brutality and climate change and misogyny and all of this stuff, we hope you don’t turn your focus on us. And so here is this idea where we’re gonna tell you we’re all in it together, we can help you solve our problems, and maybe you’ll leave us alone and not come for our extreme wealth and, like, tax our yachts out of existence and let us live our lives.”

Doug: And so, you know, again, like, it’s such a fine line where you can sound like a conspiracy theorist when you say that, but there’s a big element of truth to that feeling. I mean, think about this in a British context, because we’re talking about Europe. There were pretty strict lockdowns in the UK, and then there was a major scandal involving the prime minister where they’re having parties at 10 Downing Street and elsewhere. Like, so there’s a lot of mistrust of elites. Naomi Klein, the journalist and the writer, she calls this not a conspiracy theory, but a conspiracy smoothie, which I think is great.

Doug: And, you know, it’s the idea is that there is truth, that global elites have too much influence on public policy, many of them did use the pandemic to get richer and to advance causes that they were already pushing. You know, school choice was a Betsy DeVos thing, that really accelerated during the pandemic. We all know that Amazon, Jeff Bezos got much richer as we were all locked down ordering stuff online. This is all true, but it wasn’t some grand conspiracy, it’s just what rich people do. It’s just what corporations do. And she argues that really, the conspiracies are doing a much bigger harm because they distract from the real problem of elite influence. So we waste all this time saying, “No, no, no. Bill Gates is obviously not injecting you with 5G microchips when you get the vaccine,” but that distracts us from the fact that Bill Gates has a tremendous amount of influence over medical policy and intervention in developing countries, when that should be left to the UN, to governments, to democratically elected governments, and not self-appointed billionaires with foundations.

Sarah: Yeah. And as many people have noted, what is emerging in many ways is a feudal system in which these fantastically wealthy people each do have their spheres of influence, and sometimes those are geographic. And they actually—I mean, you know, Amazon just pulled its Virginia second headquarters plan that governments had fallen all over themselves for months trying to attract. And, you know, these have really big influences in the public realm, and they’re driven by the decisions of the aristocrats of capitalism like Jeff Bezos.

Doug: Yeah. So I think like both of you, I take some comfort from history and knowing that, like, we’ve been here before and hopefully we’ll get out of this—maybe we won’t. There’s the New World Order conspiracy theory that goes back, you know, a hundred years. Kind of grew out of speeches given by Woodrow Wilson, Churchill, others. It got a lot bigger during McCarthyism. In 1990, George H.W. Bush gives a speech before a joint session of Congress. This is during the first Persian Gulf War where he said that basically out of these troubled times a new objective, a new world order can emerge, a new era of, you know, international cooperation and all of that. But he uses that phrase “a new world order,” and that ignites the conspiracy theory. Pat Robertson, the religious broadcaster, he writes a book called The New World Order where he argues that there is this elite whose principal goal is “The establishment of a one world government, where the control of money is in the hands of one or more privately-owned but government chartered central banks.” You know, but then there’s Agenda 21, Aaron. I feel like Agenda 21 was a thing that sort of came up in the early 2000s.

Aaron: Yeah.

Doug: Like, bike lane wars.

Aaron: Definitely. So gosh, just to remind myself, yeah, Agenda 21, it was a United Nations program. And it was mainly focused on global responses to climate change and the climate crisis, and trying to figure out ways to coordinate responses so that we’re, you know, emitting less carbon into the atmosphere. And it came up a lot in our stuff in the early 2000s, our stuff being sort of like bike advocacy because, you know, bike lanes were a part of the Agenda 21 solution.

Doug: Yeah.

Aaron: You know? It was like, hey, we can try to get people out of cars, make it easier and safer to bike in cities. It was just part of Agenda 21, but Agenda 21 became just like the Great Reset.

Doug: And to that point, the idea of, you know, history repeating itself. Glenn Beck wrote a book called Agenda 21. It was fiction. It was all about, like, governments that were seeking to reduce the population of the world by 85 percent.

Aaron: Right.

Doug: And they were coming for you and all the rest. You know, so it’s just the same players in a different time.

Aaron: And Glenn Beck was like the—he was like the Jordan Peterson of the early 2000s in a way, right?

Doug: He’s the Glenn Beck of that time, too.

Aaron: He’s still there.

Doug: Because he’s still writing books about, you know, Agenda 21 and now COVID 19 and The Great Reset.

Sarah: And let me just say this is—this is a grift. They’re making money off of this. Like, all these people, to one extent or another, are making a living off of the conspiracy grift. And so someone like Glenn Beck, yeah, he just—he’ll just sort of repurpose his mashup of paranoia and truth—small truth—you know, under whatever title comes down the pike, just repackage it and sell it again. And that’s how he makes a living. That’s how he makes a living.

Aaron: And the thing is, like, their conspiracies never come true, you know? Like, that’s the thing. Like, nobody …

Sarah: It’s like the doomsday prophet, right?

Aaron: Yeah.

Sarah: It’s like, “Oh, you know, the world’s gonna end on November 21, 1987.” “No, it’s gonna end on August 3, 2002.” Or whatever.

Aaron: It’s like, guess what? The UN, like, barely has any power to do any—you know?

Doug: Yeah. Agenda 21 was a nonbinding agreement among the 178 countries or something like that. I mean, exactly. And that’s—I think that’s really the tough thing is there never is a reckoning. There never is a point where someone says, “Well, you were wrong about this last thing. Are you sure you’re right about this?” And there’s never a moment at which you can point to someone and say, “You’re wrong, and so you need to do a mea culpa.” It just never happens.

Doug: Okay, so back to Oxford. So this basically blows up. We’ve seen it all over the internet. There are protests, there are people walking. You know, this is attracting not just the people who are believing that they’re gonna be trapped in 15-minute cities and not allowed to go outside of their zones, this is attracting anti-vaxxers, this is attracting all kinds of conspiracy theorists. It’s attracting anti-Semites, Nazis and other fascists. You will see them on the perimeters of some of these protests, if not in them right in the center. And they will be repeating this. “The government wants us to own nothing and be happy. Klaus Schwab, this is his plan for us.” And so …

Aaron: And of course, they will be marching in a car-free street in a lovely town center.

Doug: Sure, but no one is telling them they have to stay there, Aaron. That’s the difference. No, there is a certain irony, It’s like, “Let’s all meet at the town square. Come on, everybody!”

Aaron: And give voice to our democratic concerns.

Doug: I was gonna go to the anti-lockdown protest, but there was nowhere to park.

Aaron: Exactly.

Doug: So this got so big that the councilors in Oxford who had proposed this plan and voted for it, they had to release a statement saying, “No, this is not a conspiracy. We just want to set the record straight. This is only about doing something about our just terrible traffic and emissions.” So this is Liz Leffman and Duncan Enright from Oxford, the councilors there.

[ARCHIVE CLIP, Liz Leffman: Hello, everyone. Recently, we’ve seen a lot of misinformation about traffic filters circulating online. This misinformation is being spread by many disreputable sources, and it has been extremely disappointing to see it being picked up by the national media outlets as well. These conspiracy theories are causing real world harm and need to stop. We have been receiving many calls and emails from worried residents in genuine fear that they might be locked in their own homes. This is categorically untrue, and we’re talking to you today to explain the truth, to reassure residents and set the record straight. We want to be absolutely clear—we are not planning a climate lockdown or a lockdown of any kind.]

Aaron: It’s so depressing because they’re really just trying to do some decent policy to reduce car traffic through, you know, a nice old medieval town center. And they might have sort of fumbled the specifics of their plan, but it’s so hard to have a serious conversation about what policies would work. I mean, they can’t even talk about that. They can’t even come close to talking about that. They’re being, like, descended upon by conspiracy theorists.

Sarah: Yeah. And even the—well obviously, to an American ear, you know, British people so often sound reasonable and kind of sane and level-headed. You know, that’s a stereotype that we have with that accent, but I hear her, you know, sort of speaking in these very measured, considered ways. And then she says she’s extremely disappointed. And that just really gets me because it’s like it just sort of encapsulates the powerlessness, I think, that a lot of reasonable, well-meaning people feel that Aaron’s talking about. And then she says, you know, these things need to stop. And I feel like that’s also a kind of discourse that you frequently hear from the left or from the sort of liberal. You know, they say, “This must end. The gun violence must end. It has to stop.” And I always think whenever I hear somebody saying this has to stop, this must end, this needs to stop, that that is when you know that it’s not gonna stop.

Doug: Yeah.

Aaron: Well, there’s like a passivity to it, right? There’s like a helplessness to that.

Sarah: It’s like, oh, like, the natural order of things is that it’s gonna stop. Well, no, that’s not actually what’s gonna happen.

Doug: I took it in a slightly different way, actually, the “this has to stop” language, which is that the Katie Hopkins and the Tucker Carlsons of the world, they know that this is bullshit.

Aaron: That’s true.

Doug: Right? So I want to be really careful here, because we’ve been talking a lot about, like, ridiculous things that people believe. I don’t think that the average person showing up to an anti-15-minute city protest is an idiot. They might be good people otherwise in their lives, but they’re being fed mounds and mounds of bullshit by news organizations that are paid and profit from doing that. And given our media environment these days, if you’re not super well versed in the intricacies of Carlos Moreno’s 15-minute city concept, I can see how a person would think that this is bad, right? Like, I can see how a person who is told, like, “Hey, if I told you in 2019 that you weren’t gonna be allowed to leave your house without a note from the government, you never would have believed me. But guess what? That happened. So who’s to say they won’t do the same thing with climate?” I can see how people believe that. And so I took her “it has to stop” as you, the people with power who are broadcasting this shit, you know it’s bullshit. Cut it out. Be honest with your viewers and tell them what’s really going on. Use your platforms responsibly.

Aaron: Okay, I’ll try to find the bright side of this, and that’s that nobody knew what 15-minute cities were before this. Nobody cared. It was just something that we talked about in our little kind of livable cities echo chamber. And now all of a sudden 15-minute cities, the idea of town centers that are accessible without a car, without intense carbon emissions, this is sort of somehow on the top of the global policy agenda right now.

Doug: I think there’s some truth to that. Because this controversy erupted, there were countless explainer articles. We’re sort of late to the game even in doing this episode.

Aaron: “What is a 15-minute city?”

Doug: Explaining what a 15-minute city is. And so I do think that that part of it is helpful. It gets the quote-unquote “normies” talking about this. On the other hand, I just think we’re in this place where—especially the right—is elevating these obscure plans and programs like CRT, right? Is this obscure academic idea that, like, racism is sort of like central to a lot of stories and histories that we tell ourselves in—especially in America. And then suddenly, like, your seven-year-old daughter is reading a book about Rosa Parks in second grade. That’s CRT.

Aaron: Yeah.
Doug: Like, they’re good at turning this stuff into total bullshit. And I worry that, like, the effort that it takes now to fight that stuff back is just—it’s like predatory delay.

Aaron: Yeah, it’s all defensive. And also what they’re doing fundamentally is they’re just sort of degrading trust in institutions.

Doug: Yeah.

Aaron: I think, like, regardless of the content, whether it’s quote-unquote “CRT” or 15-minute cities, whatever crap they’re throwing against the wall, the ultimate goal here is to kind of degrade trust in our collective ability to do things together. Like, as a democracy, our institutions that at least try in theory to hold us together, the goal is to degrade all of that.

Sarah: Yeah, and I guess I just keep thinking—I mean, speaking of bright sides, like, so how could we change the discourse and have a conversation that would be not toxic? Like, how could we say, like, “Wouldn’t you like it if you could get a quart of milk by walking down the block instead of having to drive 20 minutes to Target and park, and it being an hour long excursion to get a quarter mile?” How could we have that conversation in a different way? And what would that look like? How would we initiate that?

Aaron: I mean, I kind of feel like you answered the question in your question to some extent, in that one of the problems we’re struggling with here is, you know, 15-minute cities is this abstraction. And a lot of the language—as Doug points out, a lot of the language of these reports are these, like, really strange abstractions. And that creates all this space for people who are just completely malign to just kind of pollute the information environment. But if you talk about it in more concrete terms, like, “Okay, what we’re trying to do is trying to make it possible so that people who live here in Oxford can go get that quart of milk without having to burn a liter of gas and find a parking spot. Like, you know, like, if we are just more concrete about what we’re trying to do and straightforward, like, we are actually just trying to make it more possible to get around this town by bike, by bus, by train, safely, conveniently, accessibly. We’re trying to make it so that we are less car dependent in this town so that you’re not burdened with the cost and difficulty of owning a car and we don’t have all this traffic noise. Like, can’t we just be concrete about what we’re trying to do?

Sarah: Right.

Doug: I think there’s really an important piece of this, which is that you see how quickly conspiracy theories can fill this void. And one of the voids that they’re filling is the void of bureaucratic time. Time to discuss the plan, vote on the plan, implement the plan. So Oxford started talking about this a long time ago. It voted on it in November of 2022. It’s not supposed to go into effect until 2024. That’s a lot of time for just this stuff to turn into the total shitshow that it’s turned into. If you go back to 1977 and the Groningen transportation circulation plan, you know how long it took for them to implement that?

Sarah: Two weeks.

Doug: One night.

Sarah: [laughs]

Doug: Now I don’t know how long the planning and everything took, but they implemented the plan overnight. They reversed street direction, they put up new signs, and by the next day you couldn’t go down that street that you used to be able to go down—at least not in the same direction. And so I think governments need to understand that you’ve just got to act fast and get stuff done.

Aaron: People are afraid of change. You know, people are gonna be afraid of change if there’s something on a drawing board that they can’t see and feel, that they’ve never experienced, that’s gonna cause people to feel afraid, you know?

Doug: Yeah.

Aaron: Especially if they like the place they live. If they feel like this is a good place, you know, and I don’t really want it to change that much, or whatever reason you don’t want change. But, like, quick incremental changes, just put them on the ground, you know, and then go from there.

Doug: Get shit done.

Aaron: Get shit done. Yeah.

Doug: That’s it for this epic episode of The War on Cars. Everybody, you can put away your red string, wipe down the whiteboard, put it away.

Sarah: That’s right, Doug. You don’t have to live in that rabbit hole anymore.

Doug: I can reclaim my YouTube algorithm, which currently thinks I am against vaccines and have never worn a mask.

Aaron: [laughs]

Sarah: Well, listeners to this podcast know different. And we would like to thank you all, especially our top Patreon supporters: Charley Gee of Human Powered Law in Portland, Oregon, the law office of Vaccaro and White in New York City, Virginia Baker, Martin Mignon and Mark Hedlund.

Aaron: If you want to support what we do and receive ad-free versions of regular episodes and exclusive bonus content, please become a Patreon supporter. Go to TheWaronCars.org, click “Support Us” and sign up today. We’ll send you stickers and a handwritten thank-you note.


Doug: We also have an exciting new offer for War on Cars listeners. You can join micromobility’s top global builders, thinkers and leaders in Amsterdam, the world capital of car independence on June 8 and 9 for Micromobility Europe. It’s the world’s largest conference for small electric vehicles. It’s two days where you can test out new EVs, new e-bikes. There’s gonna be all sorts of people there: journalists, technology folks, policymakers from 500 cities. If you want to go, you can receive 20 percent off tickets to the conference. We will put a link in the show notes. Again, that’s the Micromobility Europe Conference, June 8 and 9.

Sarah: I think they might even talk about 15-minute cities.

Aaron: Oh, you can be right in the heart of the conspiracy.

Sarah: [laughs]

Doug: That’s right, yeah.

Aaron: Thanks also to Cleverhood. For 15 percent off of the best rain gear for walking and cycling, go to Cleverhood.com/waroncars and enter coupon code CLEVERMARCH.

Sarah: Thanks also to our sponsor Rad Power Bikes. You can go to RadPowerBikes.com/waroncars for all the latest deals.

Doug: This episode was recorded at the Brooklyn Podcasting Studio by Josh Willcox. It was edited by Ali Lemer. Our music is by Nathaniel Goodyear. I’m Doug Gordon.

Sarah: I’m Sarah Goodyear.

Aaron: I’m Aaron Naparstek. And this is The War on Cars.

[ARCHIVE CLIP: 15-minute cities will cost us our personal freedom, and that cannot be right.]