What You Should Do If You See a Film Crew Blocking the Bike Lane

A blocked bike lane on Motor Ave. Northbound between National Blvd. and Manning Ave. on the Westside. No advance notice of the closure was announced to cyclists. Photo: Jonathan Weiss

(We’ve gotten a lot of complaints about bike lanes being blocked by cars/film crews/police cars/trash bins/etc. We’re proud to introduce a weekly series explaining what a cyclist should do when he sees a blocked bike lane. Today we’re discussing film crews. Next week, we’ll talk LAPD cars.)

Over the past year, it seems that film industry and cyclists have been in a sort of cold war. Cyclists complain that film crews illegally block bike lanes. Meanwhile, the film industry hasn’t been shy denouncing L.A.’s bike infrastructure. The Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane has been a particular lightning rod.

Earlier this week, local writer and cyclist Erik Knutzen noticed a bike lane blocked in Silverlake by a film crew. After Eastsider picked up the story, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition was on the scene, Film L.A., a private non-profit that handles permitting for the industry, stepped in and made sure that everything was done according to the rules a mere day and a half after the complaint was first lodged. O.k., actually Film L.A. didn’t really get things up to the legal obligation, but they got closer.

First, the LADOT has published a hand book on how to close a bike lane. The closure in Silver Lake, and the one documented above by Jonathan Weiss both fail the most basic test of whether a closure is done according to LADOT regulations. Every lane closure, be it bike lane, mixed use travel lane, bus lane, turn lane, or any other lane you can think of has to be announced ahead of time. Specifically, advance notice is required in both time and space. Signs should be posted in advance of the closure so cyclists have the option of plotting a different route ahead of time. Signage should also be placed on the street well ahead of the closure for the same reason.

A couple of cones placed to keep cyclists out of the door zone are nice as far as they go, and the signage at the bottom of the Eastsider article is also a step in the right direction. But advance notice is a bare minimum to keep all road users safe. In both cases, it’s not just cyclists that are being put at risk, but also car drivers who might make mistakes when cyclists are forced into a mixed use lane.

So what should someone do when they see a film crew blocking the bike lane?

Advance notification? Photo: Jonathan Weiss

First off, every person using Los Angeles’ streets has a right to see permits when a street is being blocked regardless of who is doing the blocking.   Any passerby can ask the Production Manager or the Location Manager or the Production Designer on site for the Film Permit. If you can’t identify who is in charge, just ask one of the security guards. They HAVE to show you the permit. If they don’t, call the police.

If the permit doesn’t specify that they will be filming in the street or that they can block the lane, or doesn’t specify intermittent traffic control, then the production is shooting in excess of its permit. Or, in short, it’s breaking the law. If a crew doesn’t have a permit or has a permit that doesn’t cover the activity they are undertaking, call the police.  Immediately. Then take some pictures and send them to us.

If they do have a permit for the shoot location and it does allow for temporary closure of the lane, make certain that advance notification signage is in place. If not, tell them to put something up or you’ll call the police. Call the police.

There are some that would argue that the best course is to call Film L.A. first. There’s two problems with that. First, Film L.A. is a private non-profit that depends on the filming industry for survivial. The second is their number isn’t quite as memorable as 311. If you happen upon a blocked bike lane and want to talk to Film L.A. instead of the police, here is their contact information.

Next week: The LAPD tells us what to do when a cop car is blocking a bike lane.

  • sahra

    and you are indeed free to object…although i think we can all agree there is a big difference between being treated unlawfully by a police officer and having your lane occupied by a film crew, no? i tend not to feel quite so persecuted or oppressed by the film crew, but maybe that’s just me. but if i do feel unsafe, i’ll often say so. i’ll ask if they would be so kind as to create more space with the cones so that i can pass safely. sometimes it actually works. often, they will apologize, even, for not having realized the problem they had created.

    just because they place cones in the lane doesn’t mean they are willfully anti-cyclist. i’m guessing that, unless they are cyclists themselves, it just isn’t something they think about. people who don’t ride have no idea what makes a cyclist feel safe or unsafe. getting up in their grills in hysterics over a permit isn’t necessarily going to help make them more empathetic in that regard.

    the streets are already aggressive enough. why does confrontation have to be a first resort? 

  • What the hell is douchey or whiny about expecting that laws and regulations will be followed?

  • guest

    Sahra, who said confrontation was a first resort?  Are you characterizing a simple request to see the film permit as a “confrontation”?  Isn’t that a rather manipulative way to describe what could be in fact be a polite, simple request from a concerned neighbor? And the way you summarize your OWN interactions with a (hypothetical?) film crew (“Would [you] be so kind as to create space with the cones so that I can pass safely?”) is laughable! (Did you crib that dialogue from “Downton Abbey”?)

    No one is advocating “getting up in their grills in hysterics,” okay?And in regard to your objection to my analogy between blocked bike lanes and being unnecessarily questioned by police officers, yes, that is just your opinion.  When I’m questioned by police officers, I’m inconvenienced.  When I’m forced into lanes of heavy traffic by film crews blocking the bike path, I’m literally endangered. And that is a serious matter.  I’m sorry you to see you treat it in a dismissive fashion.

  • guest

    Sahra, who said confrontation was a first resort?  Are you characterizing a simple request to see the film permit as a “confrontation”?  Isn’t that a rather manipulative way to describe what could be in fact be a polite, simple request from a concerned neighbor? And the way you summarize your OWN interactions with a (hypothetical?) film crew (“Would [you] be so kind as to create space with the cones so that I can pass safely?”) is laughable! (Did you crib that dialogue from “Downton Abbey”?)

    No one is advocating “getting up in their grills in hysterics,” okay?And in regard to your objection to my analogy between blocked bike lanes and being unnecessarily questioned by police officers, yes, that is just your opinion.  When I’m questioned by police officers, I’m inconvenienced.  When I’m forced into lanes of heavy traffic by film crews blocking the bike path, I’m literally endangered. And that is a serious matter.  I’m sorry you to see you treat it in a dismissive fashion.

  • stopwhining

    After today almost every working location manager and assistant in LA will have read this blog. Our problem is that sometimes if your filming at a location and there is a bike lane where the producers and transportation dpt. want the trucks parked, it falls on the location dpt. to facilitate that need. Do we like to do that? Not really…it’s a pain in the butt and I would much rather park everything in a secured parking lot but it doesn’t always work like that. This has now been discussed at the highest levels and everyone of us is going to respond, if we need to, by getting the right to block the bike lane on our permit and cover ourselves so as not to deal with this problem. DOT and FilmLA will not side with you guys, sorry. Productions are leaving town left and right and the very core of what tens of thousands of people in this city make a living at is at stake. Bikers rights are secondary and not as important to the greater good as keeping people employed…and I am not talking about millionaire actors and directors, I am talking about the below the line workers…the drivers, the electricians, the set decorators, the location managers…the blue collar people of the industry that just want to feed our families and not have to move to New Orleans, New York, Atlanta, Raleigh, Vancouver, etc…to do it.  

    So here’s a question: when you biker activists approach me or my assistants on our set where our working trucks our parked and I happily and politely present my permit to you.  After you call FilmLA and they tell you I have the right to do this and after you call your assemblyman and they placate you with a ‘we will investigate the matter’ type of response…what are you guys going to do? The point I am trying to make is that this kind of rhetoric is like living in New Orleans and approaching street musicians for their permits to play in public. ‘Hey mister saxaphone guy I noticed that your permit doesn’t spell our the right to play anything in the key of C sharp, well I just heard you play the note so know I want you to stop or I am calling the cops. “Dear God, I live in Denver and I am really sick of the snow, please provide me with written documentation as to why it snows here all the time or desist”…the only difference is, your complaining is driving my job out of state, please show me your permit for that. 

  • Get an appropriate permit, adhere to the proper procedure for closing a lane of traffic, and I won’t complain. For crying out loud, all anyone’s asking is that you follow the damned rules.

  • Wow. I’m at a loss for words. Threatening people with false charges, conspiring to produce false testimony of other witnesses, chest puffing nonsense about stealing private property and reselling it. Whether in jest (and clearly in poor taste in any case) or not, just unbelievable. You do no service to your interests by confirming to everyone in public that at least some of the people managing these sites are spiteful and have complete disdain for members of the communities they operate in and their safety.

  • guest

    Another location manager telling bicyclists to “stop whining” and then proceeding to WHINE WHINE WHINE about your industry leaving town.  Again:  The fact that your industry is struggling does not give you the right to ignore the rules regarding lane closures.  And no one is saying you CAN’T close lanes for filming – we only ask that you do it according to the rules.
    Sadly, you are correct about FimLA – they don’t give a crap about an inconvenienced or endangered public.

  • guest

    Sorry, Stopwhining, but the safety of the bicycling public is NOT “secondary” to your job security.  

  • stopwhining

    My point is that thanks to this blog, we will make sure to follow all the DOT rules and get all the correct verbiage on our permit so the bike activists don’t try and wreck our shoot over a technicality. Thanks lastreetblog.org! Now just bike around the working trucks please!

  • By the way, by following the rules, which is all cyclists want you to do, you will be operating in a safe manner. The problem is that with no safe lane closure, no advance notice, we can’t make the choice to detour around your production and find a safe alternative or to safely have the advance notice to merge into car traffic. We’re not trying to bug you for the sake of being assholes. We’re asking you to give us advance warning and abide by safe protocol so that we can happily and safely ride around your production and wish you well with it. 

    Also, you analogies to Denver and New Orleans are totally moot. This is an issue of public safety, or do you not get that? It’s not about annoyance, it’s about people getting killed because they are forced out of the bike lane and even as safely as they try to do it, collisions, some tragic and deadly, still happen. 

    If this is truly how your production feels, I’d like to know which company so I can boycott watching anything you produce, since it’s clearly done with the thought that it’s okay to sacrifice people’s lives. Sheesh, don’t you get it? This is about people dying on our streets. All we want is for your production company to behave safely. And if you follow the rules, no one will bug you. 

  • Lucas

    “Bikers rights are secondary and not as important to the greater good as keeping people employed.”  Seriously?  My son rides his bike to/from school every day, and I don’t want him placed in harm’s way by rogue film companies blocking the bike lanes without warning or proper safety precautions.  But you think your employment is more important than my son’s safety?  Are you so fixated on your own economic self-interest that you can’t see hear what an asshole you sound like? 

  • Lucas

    That’s all that the bicyclists are asking for.  I’m glad to see one of you (location managers) finally (after 60+ comments) step up and say this.

  • The Guest

    Aren’t you the jerk who was earlier posting as “KALM”, and advocating filing false police reports against cyclists, stealing their property, getting others to offer false testimony against them…?  I’m glad to see you come around to the more responsible and ultimately more productive position that you WILL follow the rules regarding permitting bike lane closures.

  • Jonathan Weiss

    You say, “the cones are there for the safety of those working on the trucks, to keep them from getting hit.  If you have a problem with that, Film LA and the police are the least of your worries – you need to tell OSHA and the Teamsters that you don’t want them to observe safety protocols – to which, I’m sure, you will not get a very positive response.”  A few responses/questions/suggestions:
    1.  These may, indeed, be the regulations, so are the regulations the problem?  If so, we should consider fixing them (or finding a useful exception/interpretation).  There was no work going on around the bike lane side of the trucks.  The cones appear to be standard operating procedure.  Putting them in the bike lane made more of a hassle for all concerned.

    2.  What about Sahra’s suggestion of “TWO sets of cones, creating an improvised lane”?

    3.  The production crew may have come up with a better answer – moving the trucks to Northvale Avenue (next to the Expo ROW).  The Gilmerton production is still going on, but some of the trucks (and two cars that have been parked under the car covers) were moved to Northvale, a street with slower traffic, no bike lanes, and no problems.

    5.  I don’t want more regulation or more conflict.  Instead, I want more flexibility, creativity, education, and cooperation.  Filming in LA is a great part of our economy, and the last thing we should do is chase it away.  The bicycling community can and should work with film professionals – particularly those good enough to post constructively on Streetsblog.  The Motor Avenue bike lanes and sharrows connect Sony Studios and Fox; this is a Paramount & Universal production.  We’re all part of this great City.  Let’s come up with solutions that make filming and biking easier.

  • realitycheck

    as a person who lives in reality i call bullshit.  nice fantasy, though.

  • realitycheck

    Hey Dickhead,

    I also work in film and tv.  When I am using the bike lane, it is usually because I AM TRYING TO GET TO WORK.  Maybe think about somebody other than yourself every once in awhile.

  • I greatly appreciate this, but remember, it’s not just about verbiage. Please make sure that you have the correct advance notice and proper cone placement for lane closure so that all road users are aware. It’s not just about the paperwork.

    Really for me, I just want that advance notice a few blocks up (or even one block up) that there is a bicycle lane closure, so I can go around or pick another route depending on where you’re filming. 

    Thanks and good luck with all your shoots!
    Amanda

  • Thank you and good luck with everything.

  • We’ll get to that Marino. Film crews was actually scheduled for next week, but given that it was a hot topic on another well-read website we bumped it.

  • Walterjprice8

    then ride bike on sidewalk bump into them knock there equtment.  then tehy will whine whine whine them self.

  • Jason

    A glass carrying truck in front of the new Starbucks contruction on Spring and 6th has been parked in the fire lane and partially blocking the green bike lane.  Today, they setup even cones to completely block the green bike lane.  When asked, the construction manager refuses to move.  LAPD officers were passing by and tell me they do not have jurisdiction.  Called DOT dispatch and they sent an officer, but they haven’t showed up.  Anyone else in the area want to try to enforce this?

  • Jason

    Nevermind, parking enforcement officer showed up 30 minutes later.  Got them to immediately remove the cones, argued with the construction guys for at least 15 minutes, and they finally moved the truck.  Thank you DOT.

  • kirezifler

    Be that as it may, there is nothing wrong with that, only good movies always have a positive effect on the economy of the country and bring tremendous benefits to all residents of the country, plus the fact that, thanks to the films can be interesting to spend your free time, then when you do not want to do anything I agree that there is always a pleasure to go around for a long time obezzhenny route il pass extra mile because of this but we need to understand and to make concessions

  • Thanks for sharing this wonderful article. Happy holidays everyone. http://miamibusiness.wordpress.com

  • gayashan

    this article wonderful

  • iwan

    very nice article

  • Doan Trang 66

    Nice article

  • asd

    pice of shit

  • Kashyap Khalasi

    very nice article

  • Игорь Деевяев

    Nice article

  • Macedonian
  • luis

    I metance in my blog have an interesting article for making money http://goo.gl/pSQxFG

  • Opu Hasan

    There are some that would argue that the best course is to call Film L.A. first. There’s two problems with that. First, Film L.A. is a private non-profit that depends on the filming industry for survivial. The second is their http://goo.gl/pSQxFG

  • renaaa

    i like bike)))

  • Andrew Ward

    All film crews are suppose to have special permits aren’t they let the authorities deal with them

  • Afanasy Krivlyakin

    Great opportunity!!! http://goo.gl/0zhN2X

  • beasos

    Yes

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Getting a Permit to Close a Lane Isn’t That Hard for Film Crews

|
Two weeks ago, while researching a story on LAPD “bike lane stings” for Streetsblog, Carlos Morales came upon a television film crew blocking a bike lane.  When Streetsblog posted pictures and commentary, some readers were angry at the crew for “Ringer” and others were annoyed that Streetsblog was wasteing time writing about something that “real […]

Editorial: It Ain’t Easy Bein’ L.A.’s Green Bike Lane

|
The Los Angeles Times ran an editorial earlier this week entitled L.A.’s bike lane blooper. While the Times was generally supportive of L.A. City bike plan implementation, it did come out against green bike lanes in downtown Los Angeles stating that “the green lane spoiled the shots that made Spring the perfect stand-in for Anytown, […]