Wave Staff and Wire Reports
LOS ANGELES — A stretch of Griffith Park Drive has been permanently closed to cars after the Board of Recreation and Parks Commission voted Aug. 18 to extend the temporary closure of the roadway indefinitely.
Griffith Park Drive from Travel Town to the Griffith Park Composting Facility has been closed since June, following community outcry after the death of Andrew Jelmert, a 77-year-old cyclist who was struck and killed on Crystal Springs Drive in April.
City Councilwoman Nithya Raman, whose district includes Griffith Park, said in a statement that her office worked with the Department of Recreation and Parks at “lightning speed to make this closure along Griffith Park Drive a reality, and we have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from the community.”
“Our vision is simple: a safer and family-friendly Griffith Park, where vehicle use is limited to those enjoying the park, rather than people just cutting through,” Raman said.
“This is the start of a series of transit improvements our office is facilitating throughout Griffith Park, to ensure the park is a safe and welcoming place for all who use it,” Raman added.
Many commuters use Griffith Park Drive as an alternate route to the Golden State (5) and Ventura (134) freeways, according to a report by the Recreation and Parks Commission. This has “created unsafe conditions for cyclists, equestrians, hikers, pedestrians, other park visitors and wildlife,” the commission’s report said.
The road’s closure eliminated access to that route, keeping approximately 1,950 vehicles off Griffith Park Drive on weekdays and 2,000 daily vehicles on weekends. The closure is the first in a list of recommendations from the Griffith Park Safety and Mobility Feasibility Study.
“Safety in our parks is at the forefront of our department’s mission, and we will continue our commitment to improve mobility to and within Griffith Park,” said Jimmy Kim, general manager of the Department of Recreation and Parks.
Eli Akira Kaufman, executive director of Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, said the group celebrates the permanent closure.
“At a minimum, our parks must prioritize the well-being of people who visit for a peaceful walk or bicycle ride without fearing for their lives,” Kaufman said. “The decision to reduce the number of vehicles speeding through the park is a good step toward preventing the next needless traffic violence tragedy. After all, Griffith Park is for the community, not the commute.”
The Friends of Griffith Park and Streets Are For Everyone also were pleased with the closure.
“Closing this stretch of Griffith Park Drive to private vehicles will make the park safer for everyone, including wildlife,” said Gerry Hans, president of Friends of Griffith Park. “This accomplishment follows in the footsteps of closing Mt. Hollywood Drive and Vista Del Valle in 1992.
“Soon after, these roads were transformed and became safe meccas where passive recreationists, including people hiking, people biking and families could be seen enjoying the urban wilderness.”
Damian Kevitt, executive director of Streets Are For Everyone called the closure “an important first step towards a new golden age for Griffith Park.”
“This is a huge step towards restoring Griffith Park to its original purpose as laid out by Mr. Griffith when the park was entrusted to the city of Los Angeles 1896,” Kevitt said.
Raman and Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Burbank, held a community event in Griffith Park Aug. 19 to celebrate the road’s closure and to announce $4 million in state funding for transportation infrastructure and facility improvements for the park.
“It takes partnerships with collaborative leaders and engagement with the community to make big things happen,” Friedman said. “The $4 million in state funds that I’ve secured, combined with the vision, leadership and investments from Councilmember Nithya Raman and Mayor Eric Garcetti, will make our iconic park safer and more accessible for all to enjoy.”
“Griffith Park has been a precious jewel in L.A. for over a century, a place Angelenos and visitors alike can relax, learn and enjoy,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “And now, we are making it even more accessible and safer than ever before.
“Our work is not yet done, but this is an important and significant step in achieving our goal of zero deaths and injuries on the road.”