Landscapers Used Banned Pesticide on New Marin County Bike Path

AlamedaDelPradoLanes.jpgPhoto: MCBC

Marin County’s ribbon cutting and celebratory ride Monday in the Alameda del Prado bike lanes – a
long-missing link in the county’s North-South bikeway – was followed by the revelation that landscapers used a weedkiller banned under the county’s
strict pesticide law.

The $950,000 project closed a mile-long gap between Ignacio Boulevard and the
Pacheco Pathway along Highway 101. About $850,000 of the funding came from a
federal Non-motorized Transportation Pilot Program grant to the county.

"This is a project that’s been needed by cyclists in the area for over 20
years," said Kim Baenisch, executive director of the Marin County Bike Coalition.

After the CalPark Tunnel renovation and Lincoln Hill pathway are completed this fall, cyclists in Marin will have an uninterrupted 10-mile bike path
through some of the most congested areas of the county.

The project, which had been in the planning stage for over five years, was
complex and expensive because it entailed narrowing of the median strip,
undergrounding utility lines and paving bike lanes in each direction.

It was while replanting the median strip in June that a contractor, Baumann
Landscaping, applied about 100 pounds of Ronstar G, a weedkiller that is banned
from use on Marin County projects, according to a report Tuesday in the Marin
Independent-Journal. The newspaper’s plant sits at one end of the new bike path.

Ronstar G is widely used legally throughout California on both public and
private lands, and is sold through home garden centers. However, in 1998, Marin
County barred the use of pesticides on county projects that contain chemicals
recognized by the federal EPA as a human carcinogen or possible human
carcinogen. Ronstar G fall into that category.

Baenisch said her organization wouldn’t take a position on the use of the
pesticide, though she noted "it’s unfortunate they used this particular chemical
on a bicycling facility."

Ed Hulme, the county’s Director of Parks and Open Space who oversees
enforcement of the county Integrated Pest Management plan, said he believed the
potential exposure to cyclists was "pretty minimal" because the use of the
chemical was limited to the median strip, watered down and covered with
mulch.

Hulme said the regulations are usually included when contracts are awarded.
The problem in this case may have stemmed from the fact the project had been in
planning long before the area around the bike path was added to the county’s
ordinance in June 2009. "This project has been in the planning stages for
years," he noted.

Baumann said nobody was available to comment.

Paul Apffel, a politically active attorney and environmentalist, said he’s "a
little bit dubious" of the claim the pesticide was used only in the median, but
said it would require further checking to find out for sure.

Apffel made headlines in Marin last year when he reported the county had
violated its own pesticide ordinance 269 times between 1999 and 2008.

He said his earlier research showed the county had sometimes
used pesticides along bike paths. In some cases, when the county said a
pesticide had been used in a median strip, records showed it had also been
applied along the shoulder of the road, Apffel said.

Hulme said he had seen nothing to suggest that had happened along the Alameda
del Prado path.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

San Mateo Holds First Bike Ped Advisory Committee Meeting

|
San Mateo County’s new Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee kicked off its first meeting on Thursday evening at San Mateo City Hall. Ellen Barton, San Mateo’s Active Transportation Coordinator, proposed that they develop criteria for safer street striping ahead of the county’s annual resurfacing program. Other projects they discussed included establishing bike parking standards, evaluating […]

Workshop Tomorrow on Marin’s Alto Tunnel

|
Click for a larger image Cycling enthusiasts have long dreamed of reopening the rotting, 125-year-old Alto Tunnel as a key link in a greenway stretching from the Golden Gate Bridge to Cloverdale. Now they may get their chance, as the county’s Non-motorized Transportation Pilot Program begins a $225,000 study of three routes between the two […]

San Mateo County to Appoint Five-Member Bike/Ped Advisory Committee

|
Last week, San Mateo County established a new Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC). Its stated mission: to improve public health, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and extend mobility for children, seniors, people with disabilities, and those who live in disadvantaged communities. The committee’s five volunteer members will be charged with providing recommendations not only to the county’s Board of […]

San Mateo County Supes Vote to Fund Bike/Ped Coordinator, SamTrans

|
The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve $10 million to boost SamTrans service and $156,000 to create a new full-time bicycle and pedestrian coordinator position over the next two years. The funds come from Measure A, a ten-year, half-cent sales tax approved by voters last November, which is expected to generate $64 […]

Marin County to Install Bicycle Sensors at 31 Intersections

|
Flickr photo: crook inc Cyclists know all too well the frustration of traffic lights that only change when cars activate a ground sensor, but are not tripped when bicycles arrive. Now Marin County is about to give bike riders a green light. The county will install sensors at 31 intersections (PDF) in 10 cities so […]