Pitting Cyclists Against the Homeless Is Peak Neoliberalism

If you read blogs about bikes you likely saw how Seattle’s DOT installed a dozen and a half bike racks in a place nobody would lock a single bike, let alone dozens of bikes. SDOT did this, quite obviously, to block homeless people from camping in the location, as everyone figured out pretty quickly.

Condemnation from the bike community was swift, but it was circumstantial at best.

The only reason SDOT even attempted such a heartless stunt like this in the first place is that liberal bike advocates tend to be largely indifferent to issues of housing justice and class. Sure, they’ll say homelessness is bad, but they’ll also spin bullshit and say the problem is “complicated”.

It isn’t.

The urban bike community of the western world has struggled with its image as male, white, and affluent. Such is often not the case, but nothing reinforces this stereotype like some salaried tech industry bike bro complaining about the homeless camps he had to look at on his commute to work.

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The average US rent is $1234/month.For rent to cost less than a quarter of income, as suggested, you’d need to make $4924 a month.At 40 hours a week, that’s $30.77/hr.The federal minimum wage is $7.25/hr

Even worse are the cycling publishers who’ve all but declared war on the homeless, labeling them all thieves, vagrants, or worse. And then there’s their pro-developer content, arguably the most neoliberal aspect of the bike world’s bourgeois image problem.

Let’s be clear: homelessness is a serious problem, it isn’t a complicated problem. But many cycling advocates get paid to obfuscate the issue into being one about zoning, supply and demand, NIMBYs, etc. This is a deliberate distraction.

The reason there are homeless people is that housing is a for-profit market based on monopoly and speculation. Price is only loosely attached to demand in-so-far as developers will gouge renters and buyers for the absolute maximum amount possible.