Opinion: How do we make Griffith Park less dangerous to non-drivers?
On paper, Griffith Park should be the envy of every city in the world. The second-largest municipal park in California is packed with hiking trails, tourist attractions and stunning vistas while being surrounded by densely inhabited urban areas. It’s 4,000-plus acres dwarf the likes of New York’s Central Park and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, and as a hiker I wouldn’t trade our massive urban oasis for either of those enviable places.
But this doesn’t tell the whole story, and it pains me to admit that. Much of Griffith Park is on rugged terrain, and the portions most accessible to typical Angelenos include hundreds of acres set aside for golfers and roads used by motorists commuting through the park.
How Los Angeles prioritizes access to this park and the safety of its users is a debate taking place in earnest after 77-year-old cyclist Andrew Jelmert was struck and killed by a motorist one week ago on Crystal Springs Drive, a busy road through Griffith Park with direct access to the 5 Freeway. Here, our readers weigh in.
To the editor: I was unfortunate to come upon the cyclist fatality in Griffith Park on April 16. I saw the crumpled bike and someone performing CPR.
Earlier in the day, I passed a group of bicyclists; some were riding several riders abreast, completely across the right traffic lane. I was really angry. How many times have I seen cyclists riding outside the bike lane and flying through stop signs?
But when I saw the car sitting askew in the lane past the crash, I chided myself for misplacing the blame. I admit it is hard to keep my speed down to 25 mph, but so often cars blow by me going far faster. I yell at them (to myself) that this isn’t the freeway. This is a park and should be respected as such.
Still, I bristle at the suggestion to close the park to vehicles. I drive through the park to enjoy the peace and quiet, away from the heavy, fast, noisy, stinky traffic of the freeway.
Recently, as I was coming up to a golf-cart crossing with the lights blinking, a large buck started across the road. As he got almost across, a second followed, then another, until, one by one, the whole herd crossed. Around the corner from where the deer had just come was a coyote. These encounters are why I drive through the park.
I am not able to walk far at all, so there is no way I can enjoy a walk there, but at least I can watch all the activity, human and creature. But often what I see is disrespectful of both. I am very surprised these crashes do not happen more often.
Marti Pike, Glendale
To the editor: A friend was struck by a car while bicycling in Griffith Park on March 26. It happened near Travel Town. He suffered serious injuries and needed surgery.
Speeding by cars through the park is frequent and reckless. As a short-term solution, what about putting numerous speed bumps on the road? It would discourage drivers from using the park as another lane of the freeway.
Karen Gustafson, Long Beach
To the editor: It’s virtually impossible to enforce laws regarding drivers paying too much attention to their phones or drinking and driving. I have reluctantly quit riding my bike because it’s just too dangerous here in Los Angeles.
Could we consider not just bike lanes, but bike-exclusive roadways that are not connected to the car-dominated streets? Give us safe routes to popular destinations, and watch residents choose the green alternative to the insufferable L.A. traffic.
Could we just start with a safe route through Griffith Park?
Peter Marquard, Northridge
To the editor: Bicyclists and pedestrians are not the only ones in Griffith Park whose lives are threatened by speeding drivers. Please do not overlook horse riders. Some drivers seem to take special pleasure in terrifying our horses, which endangers us.
I doubt that anything short of barring motor vehicle traffic from these roads would really solve the problem for cyclists, pedestrians and riders, but more policing, ticketing and real speed bumps would help.
Mary Anne Steinberger, Tujunga
To the editor: My heart goes out to the family of Andrew Jelmert. Anyone who walks or bikes in Griffith Park is in similar danger.
Here in Cathedral City, where I run in the neighborhood after the sun goes down with a blinking light on my waist and blinking lights on the heels of my shoes, I have to watch out for cars speeding and running stop signs.
One car came straight through a stop sign off the main street, and I was in the middle of the crosswalk. I pounded his trunk with my fist, so he stopped and said, “I thought I hit you.”
Seriously? It will take hitting a pedestrian before you drive carefully?
The police in our area still haven’t done anything, and where I lived before, a mile away, they refused speed bumps. One corner has a stop sign with blinking red lights around it, and still drivers do not stop.
Today’s drivers are a different generation.
Claudia Ferguson, Cathedral City