Beach city declares war on 'hazardous' weeds

ENCINITAS, Calif. -- A North County beach city has agreed to help fight an invasive weed that punctures bicycle tires and pierces flip flops and pet paws.

The weeds, known as goathead thorns or puncture vines, are affecting thousands of cyclist, pedestrians, and pet owners on a foot path along Coast Highway.

Encinitas resident Russell Levan has waged an 18-month campaign to city officials that the vine is a public safety problem.

 "They grow a huge bur that will go right through your bicycle tire and if you're wearing a thin flip-flop it'll go right through your shoe," Levan said. "For the people that walk their pets, it creates a lot of pain for their animals that get thorns stuck in their paws."

"We always see people just on the side of the road with their bikes upside down fixing flats," said Brian Grover, a member of the Encinitas Environmental Commission.

Levan said the weeds are a non-native invasive species that are found all along the railroad tracks. The weed has jumped Coast Highway and is slowly making its way toward the water.

"They are everywhere now," Levan said. "It has discouraged me from riding because every time I came down the hill I would get a flat."

Levan convinced the City of Encinitas and the North Country Transit District to help him organize a clean-up event scheduled for Saturday morning.

"It's huge for me!" Levan said. "To get government agencies to move was difficult but obviously it was worth it."

"I think it's important we're here and supporting the movement toward a bicycle-friendly community," said Carris Rhoads, a member of the Encinitas Environmental Commission.

The<b><a href="https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=123160031097777" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> clean-up event</a></b> is Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and begins near the intersection of A Street and Coast Highway.