Monday, September 11, 2006

Griffith Observatory Sees the Light


LOS ANGELES, CA. – Jon Kirk Mukri, General Manager of the Department of Recreation and Parks, announced that a plan to require all guests of the Griffith Observatory to use shuttle buses ($5.50 per guest) has been revised to include a cyclist and pedestrian access option.

The Griffith Observatory has been closed since early 2002 for a complete overhaul and renovation. Excitement has been building and the Department of Rec & Parks has been concerned that demand for access far exceeds the capacity of the Observatory and also of the neighborhood.

To their credit, Rec & Parks came up with a very progressive plan that incorporated a complete ban on automobile access. Guests would use a timed entry advance reservation system and then board shuttle buses at one of two off-site locations so that the impact on the community was minimalized and that the flow of guests at the Observatory was controlled.

The downside of this plan was that it provided no mechanism for allowing guests to access the observatory without using the shuttle buses. Cyclists and hikers were outraged.

Officials argued that cyclists and hikers would still have access to the park, they conceded that access to the Observatory would still require boarding a bus at Hollywood/Highland or the LA Zoo.

Local cyclists have lobbied for over a year to have the plan revised. Stephen Box, a Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition Boardmember, has appealed to the Mayor’s office, City Council President Eric Garcetti, Councilmember Tom LaBonge, the Griffith Park Master Plan Working Group, the Department of Rec & Parks and just about anybody else who would listen as well as a few that wouldn’t.

Colin Bogart, LACBC Board President, and Enci, LACBC member, joined Stephen at the Friends Of The Observatory community presentation where all three spoke in protest of the exclusion of cycling as a viable transportation option.

Stephen and Enci were joined by Kastle Lund, Executive Director of the LACBC, at City Councilmember Tom LaBonge’s Mobility Action Committee where they all spoke in favor of a revised Observatory access plan that includes cyclists and pedestrians.

Stephen attended the Rec & Parks Commission meeting this past week intending to speak again on the issue but was assured by Jon Kirk Mukri and Kevin Regan, Assistant General Manager, that cyclists would still need to use the advance reservation click and print system but that they would be able to ride to the Observatory.

Vicki Israel, Griffith Park Superintendent, added that bicycle racks were going to be installed and went on to inquire as to the best cycling and pedestrian routes to the Observatory.

The two most popular cycling routes to the Observatory are the Ferndell/Western Canyon route (2.3 miles) and the Vermont Canyon route. (1.6 miles) Once at the top you can continue on Mt. Hollywood Drive (closed to automobiles for years!) and ride for miles surrounded by nothing but the beauty and tranquility of Griffith Park.

No comments: