Homeless return to popular bike path despite major cleanups

After two large-scale cleanups along a popular bike path in Aiea, homeless campers are starting to return.

In August and September, the city cleared more than 80,000 pounds of trash and dozens of tents from the Pearl Harbor Bike Path.

While dozens of people were moved into shelters, bicyclists say some are already returning, and are worried the problem could repeat itself.

For cyclists traveling along the Pearl Harbor Bike Path, views that were once lined with tents are now clear.

Barry Swedeen rides to work on the path five days a week and says the change hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“Awesome job. It looks great. They even in some areas, they striped the pathway. Not that we need it, but it looks great,” he said.

But according Swedeen, although much of the path is clear, some tents are starting to pop up, as shown in video shot from the front of his bike.

“I think there are a few tents just before the Best Buy parking lot, so they’re coming back, and there’s no evidence of enforcement, so they know they can just move in,” he said.

Honolulu City Councilman Brandon Elefante says he’s working with the city and Navy to keep the trail clear and, most importantly, safe.

On Tuesday, he introduced a bill that aims to do just that.

“This is an ongoing effort that really takes not only just people in the community, but everyone else in general, homeless advocates, people that have gone out and done outreach services, and we are monitoring the area. We continue to monitor the area going forward,” Elefante said. “The city does have a grant of easement agreement to ensure that the trail is a safe accessible trail for everyone.”

According to an email sent to Swedeen by Elefante’s office, HPD will be back out on the trail the week of Dec. 25.

For cyclists who ride the trail daily, the hope is that the encampments once seen all along the trial aren’t allowed to come back.

“It would be nice whenever they do a sweep anywhere, and especially here, because a lot of the areas are out of sight, but if they would just come back on a periodic basis and keep the camps moving,” Swedeen said. “There’s no cure for this, but if we just let them settle in, we’re going to have these expensive cleanups.”

Elefante says that some long-term goals for the trail include adding historical markers and possibly looking at widening the current path and adding lighting.

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