Thursday, November 09, 2006

"Wait! Wait! It's not REALLY free..."

After years of renovation, the Griffith Park Observatory has reopened --at a cost of $93 million. That buys a lotta bells and whistles, but they couldn't be bothered to install any new bicycle racks (according to the LA County Bicycle Coalition, there are only two old racks located behind the bathrooms... for a city of three million people).

Officially, admission is free, but depending on which news source you listen to, no walk-in visitors will be allowed, and visitors must ride the $8 shuttle to alleviate overcrowding.
Since the Observatory reopened Friday, there is currently a two month waiting list for the shuttle. At least that's what the Observatory spokesperson said on the KCRW news. The LACBC site reports that visitors arriving by bicycle or foot may make reservations 48 hours ahead --yet cyclists and hikers are only allowed entrance until 3:50 p.m.

One thing the $93 million renovation couldn't fix is the smog and light pollution, which has obscured the view of the night sky a heck of a lot more than when the observatory first opened in 1935.

Apparently the restricted access for pedestrians or bicyclists is in violation of city law, and the existing bike racks are not up to code.

No one seems to know if or when mass transit will be restored to the Observatory. In my 20's, I was able to jog up to the Observatory, but that was a long time ago, and I wasn't aware of the rattlesnake factor. I guess when the oil companies got their revenge on Californians for Prop 87, they didn't pussy-foot around.

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