Eyes on the Street: Griffith Park Boulevard’s New ‘Rough Road’ Signage

New ROUGH ROAD sign on Griffith Park Blvd. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
New ROUGH ROAD sign on Griffith Park Blvd. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

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The city of L.A. recently put up new “rough road” signs along part of Griffith Park Boulevard. There are sixteen of these new signs, facing both ways at all signalized and stop sign intersections below Los Feliz Boulevard.

Due to two solo bike fall lawsuits (one of which occurred in a bike lane, one did not), the City Attorney has recommended removing bike lanes from Griffith Park Blvd. The city Transportation Department (LADOT) is not planning to remove the lanes immediately, but is currently working with the Bureau of Street Services to evaluate repairs to various city bikeways. Griffith Park Blvd is one of the city’s aging concrete streets, cracking in many places.

A few more observations about Griffith Park Boulevard:

No ROUGH ROAD signs north of Los Feliz Boulevard
No ROUGH ROAD signs – or bike lanes – north of Los Feliz Boulevard

Double Standard?

The city’s new signs are only located south of Los Feliz Boulevard.

South of Los Feliz Blvd, where there are bike lanes, Griffith Park Blvd is mostly flat and more typically used by utilitarian cyclists to access schools, stores (Trader Joe’s), and restaurants.

In this area, the city paid $500,000 to settle one cyclist crash lawsuit in June 2018.

So far, the city responded by adding signs – while evaluating repairs and bike lane removal.

No repairs yet at the intersection of Griffith Park Blvd and Effie Street where cyclist Brian O’Hare fell and sued the city, winning $500,000
No repairs yet at the intersection of Griffith Park Blvd and Effie Street where cyclist Brian O’Hare fell and sued the city, winning $500,000

North of Los Feliz Blvd, where there are no bike lanes, Griffith Park Blvd is mostly used by recreational cyclists to access Griffith Park. This neighborhood is more affluent than the area below Los Feliz Blvd, though none of this Los Feliz/Franklin Hills neighborhood is low income.

In this area, the city paid $200,000 to settle one cyclist crash lawsuit in October 2017.

The city responded by repairing 15,000+ square feet of concrete.

Smooth new concrete at the intersection of Griffith Park Blvd and Effie Street where cyclist Brian O’Hare fell and sued the city, winning $500,000
Smooth new concrete at the intersection of Griffith Park Blvd and Lambeth Street where cyclist Patrick Pascal fell and sued the city, winning $200,000.

If this discrepancy holds (which is admittedly unlikely – as stated, the city is evaluating repairs and lane removal), it seems like it could be a double standard. Richer neighborhood gets actual street repair; less well-off area just gets signs.

In any case, bicyclists are urging the city to actually fix the street.

Pedestrian walking in the Griffith Park Boulevard bike lane where there is no sidewalk near Monon Street
Pedestrian walking in the Griffith Park Boulevard bike lane where there is no sidewalk near Monon Street

Missing Sidewalk

There’s no sidewalk on the east side of Griffith Park Boulevard between Monon Street and Colony Circle – partially across from John Marshall High School. In this area the bike lane serves as a de facto walking path.

Would it really help city liability to remove the bike lane here, putting pedestrians (likely some students walking to school) closer to fast-moving cars? Do City Attorneys actually go visit streets they’re recommending for bike lane removal?

1926 street pavement marking on Griffith Park Boulevard near Lucille Avenue
1926 street pavement marking on Griffith Park Boulevard near Lucille Avenue

Establishing the Pavement Date

For what it’s worth, there are a couple of pavement stamps that establish that Griffith Park Blvd was concreted in 1926. Streetsblog had been reporting the age of the street as “more than sixty years old,” having been paved “circa the 1930s-1940s” but it turns out the street is 92 years old.

1926 curb stamp marking on Huxley Street at Griffith Park Blvd
1926 curb stamp marking on Huxley Street at Griffith Park Blvd

It’s not really pertinent to the current controversy, but these concrete streets are from the ’20s: an age when extensive public works were a sign of L.A.’s optimistic emergence as a city that considered itself world class. They’re not from the ’30s-’40s depression-era public works programs.

Though Griffith Park Blvd. is cracked and rough in spots, it has aged remarkably well. Even given recent lawsuits, the durability of these concrete streets were probably a good long-term investment for the city. It is up to the present generation to bring them back up to the state of good repair that earlier generations passed along to us.

  • J. Geoff Rove

    Snow belt cities typically overlay concrete with blacktop about 20-40 years after the new concrete was built. Seems like autos can handle the cracks in the concrete but bikers have to dodge the pits, etc. LA should get this road on the resurfacing list.

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