Seattle steps up its response to homeless camp after bicyclist attack

Mar 26, 2017, 10:08 PM
homeless camp...
A homeless camp under the West Seattle Bridge will be cleaned up. (KIRO 7, Siemny Kim)
(KIRO 7, Siemny Kim)

The city of Seattle is stepping up its response to a homeless encampment under the West Seattle Bridge, days after a bicyclist says she was attacked there.

It’s been a growing concern for cyclists who ride by the piles of trash on Spokane Street and East Marginal Way.

“Every time I ride through there, I want to cry,” David Winters said. “It’s so bad.”

Cleanup can’t come fast enough for Winters and his wife, Sandra Wanstall.

“When we rode through, I exclaimed to Dave, ‘This is really bad,’” Wanstall said.

The city was already scheduled to clean up the trash this week but said it is stepping up its response after Jackie Harris says she was attacked while riding her bike on the bike trail next to the encampment Thursday night.

“He was like pawing at my shoulder,” Harris recalled.

She fears the worst could have happened if it weren’t for her jacket clinging so close to her body.

“Luckily I was able to duck away from him and I rode my bike as fast as I could out of there,” Harris said.

KIRO 7 can’t confirm if the man, in fact, lived in the large encampment.

Some residents are in disbelief.

“The first thing that went through my mind whenever I heard of bicyclist attacked is it’s not from here,” Thiago Cross said. “Somewhere outside of here.”

Nevertheless, the incident has placed a growing spotlight on the encampment.

On Monday, the city’s navigation team will offer help to those living in tents before the cleanup begins Wednesday.

“I hope they don’t take it away from us because that’s not going to help anybody out,” said Kevin Hedrick, who has lived under the bridge for the last couple of months.

While the city plans to remove the tents, officials say they’re still working on a plan for the numerous recreational vehicles parked under the bridge.

“I don’t know what the solution is but whatever is being done now is clearly not working,” Winters said, “It’s getting worse.”

The cleanup will last through Thursday.

Drivers could see some traffic impacts and cyclists should be prepared to dismount and walk their bikes in some areas.

The lights have also been out since December. The city said the copper wires had been removed from a ground vault. Once the area is cleaned up, crews can access the area to design a new system to restore power.

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Seattle steps up its response to homeless camp after bicyclist attack