As the Coronavirus crisis continues to expand, on Sunday the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority (MRCA) made the decision to close all Parks, Trails and Building Facilities, including restrooms, under their jurisdiction (list).
While most Angelenos may not be familiar what their supervision covers, the MRCA covers a large expanse of many popular locations and trails across the region.
— MRCAParks (@MRCAParks) March 22, 2020
This closure doesn’t come as a surprise to many frequenting these parks as crowds of hikers and new, unaccustomed cyclists have been jamming these areas making it difficult to navigate.
Fryman Canyon, Verdugo Mountains, Topanga area (Westridge-Canyonback Wilderness Park, Dirt Mulholland, etc.), and Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve are just a handful of MRCA parks that will close.
Within these spaces are hundreds of miles of trails and dirt roads that are accessed by many recreational mountain and gravel cyclists, but also provides better access for bike commutes as well.
There was a lot of chatter over the weekend on how crowded trails were.
For me, I used to ride through Fryman and Franklin Canyon as it would not only protect me from the crowded and narrow access on the streets, but also cut down my distance riding from home to UCLA.
Even though more people are staying home from work, I know there are still those that need this access.
Also included within MRCA Parks are a number bike trails, such as Ballona Creek and the LA River Greenway, which serve as vital connections for bike commuters.
Update 11/23/20 11:35am: LA County has final say on path closures. MRCA Parks operates a number of spaces aligning
Ballona Creek is an efficient way of getting from the Playa del Rey / Culver City vicinity to the Expo (E) line.
I’m also assuming the LA River Greenway likely includes the multi-use trails, that covers the three mile portion in the West Valley and a number of short sections in the East, as well as the seven mile Elysian Valley, a key commuter connection into downtown.
While there are on street options to get around, they typically involve riding amid dangerous road conditions along with adding distance.
Metro is still up and running with bus and rail service, but the question is if people will still take it as in New York City, subway ridership has waned while biking has gone up.
#HuntingtonBeach pier, boardwalk and beaches packed with people. Of the dozen or so people we spoke with on and off camera most said they were not concerned with #covid19 and would not let social distancing orders disrupt their lives @nbcla #news #orangecounty pic.twitter.com/eSuJbip8tH
— Darsha Philips (@DarshaPhilips) March 22, 2020
Shutting down these spaces will have an effect on movement, but with places like beaches and boardwalks still full of people, I have a bad feeling that more will have to be done.
Later Sunday evening, Mayor Garcetti closed LA City parks to sports and recreation which needs some clarity meaning are trails like Mount Hollywood Drive through Griffith Park and access to the Hollywood Sign closed?
This weekend we saw too many people packing beaches, trails and parks. So we are closing sports and recreation at @LACityParks and closing parking at city beaches. That doesn’t mean gather elsewhere. This is serious. Stay home and save lives.
— Mayor Eric Garcetti (@MayorOfLA) March 23, 2020
Considering the popularity of these spaces, if this isn’t what is already meant, I’m sure it’ll be coming soon.
State and federal land has not had any directives yet, but while a significant portion of these areas are relatively further away from the general population, many spots are still popular.
Getting outside definitely serves as a balance to the confinement we are facing, but in an environment that’s been constructed to primarily serve vehicular traffic, we are now finding the shortcomings of movement for everyone else.