The city will relocate bike racks installed a Belltown location to deter homeless encampments, Seattle council member Mike O'Brien said Monday morning.
In a statement to PubliCola, SDOT confirmed plans to remove the bike racks once officials find a new location. The Stranger in December reported the bike racks had been part of the "Homelessness Emergency Response effort" and that SDOT confirmed they had been used to encourage the space be used "for a different active public use."
"Mayor Durkan has made it clear that bike racks should be deployed to support and encourage biking," SDOT spokesperson Mafara Hobson said in a statement. "Last month, SDOT notified members of the city council stating that the Durkan administration's policy was to not use bike racks as impediments. SDOT plans to remove the bike racks after a location is identified to ensure the greatest use to bicyclists in Seattle."
As a response to The Stranger's report, city officials condemned the use of bike racks as "hostile architecture," or designing urban public spaces in ways to dissuade them from being used for certain purposes (most often used against homelessness). Council member Teresa Mosqueda sent a letter to the SDOT director in December and said it was "unacceptable that bike infrastructure funding be expressly used for displacing those who are unsheltered."
The bike racks were hardly convenient to bicyclists—under the Alaskan Way Viaduct and near an onramp—installed in September. SDOT didn't respond to questions of when officials planned to move them or what it would cost.
"The solution to homelessness is not going to be achieved through making life more miserable for people that are struggling," O'Brien said during a council briefing Monday morning. "We have a lot of demand for good bike infrastructure throughout the city, and we shouldn't be spending it in places where people aren't looking for bike infrastructure."