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Aug 28, 2023

By Reuters Fact Check

6 Min Read

Yellow speed-reduction gateways in Vancouver are not part of the city's "15-minute city" proposals. Stickers that read "15-minute City Ready" affixed to yellow concrete traffic-calming tools, seen in photos shared online, were not applied by the City of Vancouver, a local government spokesperson told Reuters.

A screenshot of a Facebook post containing an image of a yellow gateway bearing one of the stickers contains text reading: "The 15 minute city is quietly creeping into Vancouver. I was told the location was between Oak and Granville on 13th Ave" (here). The account sharing this screengrab writes alongside the image: "No physical barriers they say .... in the UK. Instead of our grim black bollards, Canada has yellow."

The original Facebook post can be seen (here), while a similar upload can be seen on Twitter (here).

The "15-minute city" is an urban planning concept that envisions a living environment with easily accessible essentials. Reuters Fact Check has previously found no evidence that cities adopting the model are planning lockdowns or intending to prevent people from leaving their neighborhoods (here).

The yellow concrete blocks (located here: bit.ly/3oP13YR) seen in posts online are a traffic calming tool which do not prevent people from entering or leaving a road or area, a City of Vancouver spokesperson told Reuters, citing a local government report (here), also described in a press release (here).

"The Slow Street gateways are intended to reduce vehicle speeds," the spokesperson said in an email. "The gateways create a pinch point where Slow Streets meet major streets, allowing only one direction of vehicle traffic at a time. Drivers will be required to slow down as they enter the neighbourhood, but are not prohibited from using these streets."

The initiative was adopted to make certain roads safer and to help pedestrians and cyclists, the spokesperson added.

Although the city is implementing its version of the 15-minute city concept (here), the spokesperson said, the "15-minute City Ready" stickers were not applied to the concrete blocks by the City of Vancouver.

"The gateways are not linked to the 15-minute city principles. As noted on the (city's) webpage, the Slow Streets program was launched in response to COVID. We initially had temporary orange barriers that have been replaced with permanent yellow gateways" (here).

Local reports about the yellow traffic calming tools (here, here and here) do not include any reference to 15-minute city proposals.

‘READY’ STICKERS

Although the City of Vancouver spokesperson confirmed that city staff have seen the stickers on the gateways, Reuters Fact Check was unable to identify their origin.

Online comments and responses to photos of the red-and-white stickers appearing around the city indicate that some social media users view the stickers as a protest or criticism of the 15-minute-city concept (here), while others are unsure (here).

One post featuring footage of a sticker pasted to a traffic sign highlights the sticker's chain-link pattern background and explicitly describes the 15-minute city concept as a plot to restrict residents (here). A similar example can be seen (here).

Missing context. Vancouver's yellow gateways are a local government program for speed reduction and not part of the city's 15-minute city proposals. Stickers referencing the 15-minute city concept were not applied or authorized by Vancouver officials.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work (here).

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.