Los Angeles to permanently close part of Griffith Park Drive to cars

After a hit-and-run driver killed a bicyclist, the City of Los Angeles temporarily closed a section of Griffith Park Drive to vehicles. Now, citing ongoing road safety concerns, officials have made the ban on cars permanent.

The Board of Recreation and Park Commissioners unanimously approved the measure Thursday, about four months after Andrew Jelmert, 77, was hit from behind by a car during a practice drive through Griffith Park.

About two-thirds of a mile of Griffith Park Drive, from the Travel Town Railway Museum to the Griffith Park Composting Facility, had been closed to private vehicles in a pilot program last month. The move to improve safety for cyclists, runners, hikers and horse riders picked up speed after Jelmert’s death.

In a statement Thursday, LA City Council member Nithya Raman, whose precinct the park is part of, praised the decision to make the closure permanent.

“I’m so excited to bring the street revolution home to Council District 4,” Raman said. “Our office, in partnership with the Department of Recreation and Parks, worked at lightning speed to make this closure along Griffith Park Drive a reality and we have been overwhelmed with the community support.”

Raman said the permanent road closure is the start of a “series of transit improvements” that will ease her office across the park. Her office had previously commissioned a study on the park’s transportation infrastructure.

The road closure is one of a number of recommendations made by the study.

In addition to eliminating through traffic, the study includes recommendations for reducing driving speeds and improving cycling and walking infrastructure through upgrades such as protected bike lanes and elevated crosswalks. Many Griffith Park streets lack bike lanes, and some of the existing ones are blocked by parked cars or have faded over time, consultants noted in a presentation of the study’s initial findings.

Eli Akira Kaufman, executive director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, also praised Thursday’s vote.

“At the very least, our parks must prioritize the well-being of people who can take a peaceful walk or bike ride without fearing for their lives,” Kaufman said. “The decision to reduce the number of vehicles speeding through the park is a good step towards preventing the next tragedy of unnecessary road violence.”

The closure “follows in the footsteps” of decisions to close Mt. Hollywood Drive and Vista Del Valle in 1992, said Gerry Hans, president of Friends of Griffith Park.

“Soon after, those streets turned into safe Meccas,” said Hans.

Griffith Park, one of the largest urban parks in the United States, sees about 8,500 cars on its streets every day, according to the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks.

Many drivers use the park’s main thoroughfares—Griffith Park Drive and Crystal Springs Drive—as shortcuts to avoid traffic on the 5 and 134 freeways.

Raman, Assembly Member Laura Friedman’s office (D-Glendale) and the Department of Recreation and Parks will be hosting a community event Friday from 4pm to 7pm to celebrate the permanent closure of Griffith Park Drive.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-19/los-angeles-permanent-ban-on-cars-along-part-of-griffith-park-drive Los Angeles to permanently close part of Griffith Park Drive to cars

Alley Einstein

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