Bicycle for the homeless doubles up as tiny bed (Wired UK)

Bas Sprakel

Say hello to the Housetrike, a retractable coffin on wheels that
its creator believes will help “homeless people, refugees and urban

Invented by Dutch “conceptual artist and explorer” Bas Sprakel,
the Housetrike is essentially a cargo trike that folds out into an
elongated box its rider can sleep in.

“I lived rough and I know what is needed most and that is safety
at night and being low key and above all being flexible,” said
Sprakel, writing on
the Tiny House Blog

From a technical perspective, the bicycle is pretty simple. The
500 litre box slides out to create a bed that can be locked from
the inside to protect the sleeper (it’s not clear what measures are
in place to stop someone wheeling you away once you’re inside).

Bas Sprakel

But despite the good intentions, the marketing materials around
the Housetrike contain a vision of homelessness that is likely
quite at odds with the reality for most rough sleepers.

“All additional problems caused by the situation of being
homeless like shame, addictions, self loathing, being poor,
treating yourself bad etc. can be avoided a great deal using this
multi functional self help device,” reads the
Housetrike website

the site says
: “Using the Housetrike you are able to earn your
own money by e.g. delivering groceries or collecting scrap

Bas Sprakel

The project appears to have a ‘pull yourself up by your
bootstraps’ mentality towards homelessness that fails to
acknowledge, for example, the high prevalence of mental health
issues among homeless people.

A Crisis report on homelessness in the UK from 2009 noted that
“in many instances mental health problems played a significant part
in the circumstances which caused those persons to lose their

In fairness to Spraken, the report goes on to say that these
health problems are then “exacerbated by the stresses associated
with being homeless,” something that a mobile shelter could
potentially help mitigate.

But the bikes will cost around $1,500 (£875), according to
Gizmag, and could be distributed through a not-for-profit
organisation but it’s highly questionable whether a homeless person
could afford to spend that much on a bicycle or if it would be the
best use of a charity’s resources.

Although the Housetrike could certainly appeal to a specific
type of person, probably similar to Sprakel who writes that he
“just loved being on the road. To me personally it is absolutely
clear that we are nomads by nature”, it comes across a mechanical,
quick-fix solution to what is a problem that probably needs
resources more than it needs inventions.

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