Hollywood Wins Battle with Bicyclists for the Streets of L.A.

Friday, June 21, 2013
Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles (photo: Flickr via LADOT Bike Blog)

Hollywood location scouts took a dim view of the new bright green bicycle path along the streets of downtown Los Angeles when the city busted out the spray cans in 2011, and this week they won permission to have it obliterated.

Although the 6-foot-wide strip, stretching 1.5 miles along Spring Street, brightened the day of bicyclists who rode on it, the neon green paint proved too distracting for filmmakers. They claim that the bright lights of a film set reflect off the paint, causing a weird green glow everywhere and ruining one of the most popular locations for street shots in L.A.

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to scrape off the paint and lay down a new, narrower, darker green path. The plan still needs to be approved by transportation officials.

Ed Duffy, a representative for Teamsters Local 399, which represents film industry workers, told the Los Angeles Times that the television series “Mad Men” stopped shooting exterior shots on Spring Street because of the green lane. But their loss was bicyclists’ gain.

A survey by Parklett Studies last year found that bicycle ridership on Spring Street rose 52% after the colorful lane installation. But a call to arms by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition to resist changes to the lane failed to carry the day.

Introduction of the green lane in 2011 raised some instant objections. But not much was done until the city decided to repaint the lanes, whose bright color fades easily and requires more frequent touch-ups. A coalition of film groups told the council that the city would lose thousands of jobs if another layer of bright green paint were slathered along the street.

Instead, they worked out a deal that shrinks the bike lane width by about 80% and uses a darker forest green.

In an impassioned open letter to the city council before Wednesday’s vote, biking enthusiast Ted Rogers argued that the film industry was wrong (pdf) about losing business because of the bike paths (“filming in Los Angeles is up over the last year”), could easily edit around the “little bit of green paint” and was lying about negotiating in good faith.

“Please, I beg you, prove us wrong and dispel our fears,” Rogers wrote. “Send a clear signal that you are sincere in your desire to end car culture and reshape L.A. into the livable, walkable, bikeable world-class city it should be.”

They did not.

–Ken Broder  


To Learn More:

Hollywood Gets LA to Overhaul the Spring Street Bike Lanes (by Adrian Glick Kudler, Curbed LA)

Downtown L.A. Bike Lane to Get Hollywood Makeover (by Laura J. Nelson, Los Angeles Times)

Green Bike Lane Paint Fight Pits Producers against Cyclists (by Jacob Rascon and Heather Navarro, NBC Southern California)

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