When you see a roach in your kitchen, you hope there’s only one, and that it will go away on its own and you ignore it. Only…. next week you find seven more scrambling across the counter or floor when you turn on the kitchen light. Roaches congregate near a food source, but since you can’t remove all of the food from your kitchen, you try to stamp out the bugs one at a time. It usually doesn’t work, but you still try. This same scenario is happening at one of our City’s first public squares – Triangle Park. It’s not a roach infestation; it’s a motorist infestation that has turned the park into a veritable parking lot because it’s near a food source – the only café in the park.
The first time I noticed this behavior was on a morning bike ride. I saw a car parked in the middle of the crosswalk bordering the park, even though there was free parking five feet away. At first I ignored it hoping it was just a one-time thing. Just like roaches, though, more cars appeared. This Sunday, I noticed cars were now parked INSIDE Triangle Park. Motorists move the planters and drive their cars into the park, even though parking on Sunset and Edgecliffe is free on Sundays. The piano man’s van is even in the park! The motorists seem to think the polka-dotted cement must be for them.
When I first noticed that people parked in the crosswalk bordering the park, I tried to bring it to the attention of a Brad-Pitt-wanna-be who had parked his car in the crosswalk and I yelled, “This isn’t a parking space.” He ignored me and put his i-phone to his ear and looked to his side to make sure the car doors were locked. Did I mention I gave the guy the finger while he was waiting? He took pictures of it. I’m sure they are somewhere on Facebook.
Then, a Maxim-Model-wanna-be appeared with her two plastic cups of coffee. As she sat one on the car’s hood and reached for the door handle, I repeated, “This is not a parking lot.”
“Oh, so sorry,” she said as she got into the car and they drove off.
As a Bike Ambassador I realize that ignoring a problem or giving anyone the finger only makes situations worse. I was just so angry that motorists didn’t seem to care and didn’t listen, that I lost control. This time I decided to do what anyone would do when there is an infestation – call an exterminator. So, this Sunday, in full view of everyone in the park, I calmly walked to each car, took out my i-phone, and took pictures of the license plates as well as the cars. Then, I called Parking Enforcement, gave them the information, and hope they write tickets thus ridding the park of the infestation and enriching the City’s coffers at the same time.
Triangle Park’s raison d’ etre is as a respite from cars. It’s a place where people can gather without the threat of conflicts that arise when cars mix with pedestrians and bicyclists. I’ve watched parents teach their child how to ride a bike and without worrying about a car, whose driver is late for an appointment, speeding down the road. I’ve seen a father playing basketball with his daughter, showering her with “good job” when she makes a basket, or running to retrieve the ball when it rolls from the court. This is not possible if people are driving into the park then backing up to exit the park all the while creating a potential danger to the people who are enjoying the park.
I think people have forgotten what it was like when the park was opened to traffic. We ran furiously to take our dogs to the grassy park. We dodged traffic as it would back up for a mile as people used Griffith Park Boulevard as a cut through to Hyperion Highway. If we allow the encroachment of parked cars then hell…why not just open it up to what it once was and start playing dodge car.
Or we can stamp out this infestation by speaking up and demanding the park stay car-free.