Auto-free Interior Park Roads – Good for Recreation and Wildlife

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Fall 2013

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Mt. Hollywood Drive and Vista del Valle Drive have been closed permanently to vehicular traffic since the early 1990s. The closure of these two long, winding roads located within the interior of the Park has been widely welcomed by recreationists. These scenic roads allow for a peaceful co-existence among hikers, runners, equestrians and bicyclists, all of whom welcome a beautiful and safe environment in order to enjoy their sport within the tranquility of the Park.

The decision to close these roads to all traffic except emergency and maintenance vehicles was spear-headed by Councilman Tom LaBonge while a key staff-member of the late, great Councilman John Ferraro. What vision and foresight LaBonge showed in ­­­making these roads auto-free and creating so many more miles for safe, passive recreational use!

Prior to the road closures, problems persisted in areas where lewd behavior was often reported. Trash was also an issue, as many drivers would fling their fast-food bags, bottles and cans out the windows of their cars. There were fire concerns too, as many cigarette butts were also flung from car windows. With the closure of these two interior roads, the  problems all but disappeared.

Today, over 20 years later, park recreationists continue to traverse this scenic interior of Griffith Park in increasing numbers, as more citizens have discovered this welcoming, bucolic and safe setting. For bicyclists the paved roads are training favorites with hard climbs, but also where they feel safe away from cars. Families with small children and baby strollers take advantage of these car-free roads in the urban milieu for hiking and biking, as well.

Just as important, Vista del Valle and Mt. Hollywood Drives transect the middle of Griffith Park where a healthy, complete wilderness ecosystem persists. Wildlife is no longer subjected to the previous high road-kill mortality rate. They are free to roam. The habitat is less likely to burn. And we, as park users, are better able to enjoy nature at its finest.

How fortunate we are. In a car-driven society, like Los Angeles, it is reassuring to know we can find our escape and relief on the tranquil back roads of our beloved Griffith Park.

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