Seattle installed bike racks here last year as part of its Homelessness Emergency Response effort. Theyve now been removed.
Seattle installed bike racks here last year as part of its "Homelessness Emergency Response effort." They've now been removed. PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFF FEW

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The Seattle Department of Transportation has followed through on its promise to remove a set of bike racks it installed to discourage camping by people experiencing homelessness.

SDOT installed the racks last fall. Soon after, a nearby resident, Jeff Few, suspected they were meant to discourage camping. He submitted a public records request and city emails showed his suspicions were right. Using bike racks to discourage camping is an example of "hostile architecture" meant to discourage certain behaviors (like sleeping) in public places.

Several Seattle City Council members denounced the use of the racks. In a letter to SDOT, Council Member Teresa Mosqueda called the use of hostile architecture "misguided." During a February city council briefing, Council Member Mike O'Brien said, “The solution to homelessness is not going to be achieved through making life more miserable for people that are struggling. Also, we have a lot of demand for good bike infrastructure and we shouldn’t be spending it on places where people aren’t looking for bike infrastructure."

At the time, SDOT said in media statements it planned to remove the racks. But when O'Brien invited the head of his department to a council committee meeting to talk more about the issue, he didn't show.

SDOT has not yet said where the racks will be installed now, and did not respond to requests for comment by deadline. In a statement, SDOT said it "has removed the bike racks and reallocated them to ensure the greatest use to bicyclists in Seattle. Crews are in the process of installing them at locations throughout the downtown core, determined by proximity to protected bike lanes. This work is expected to be completed Monday."