Surely Film L.A. doesn’t have so much clout that it can hold up the simple repainting of an already fading and chipped green buffered bike lane on Spring Street over the wishes of the Mayor’s Office, LADOT, local City Council Member Jose Huizar and the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council. So what’s the delay?
Opposing the repainting, the film, television and commercial industry advocacy group, Film L.A., has stated that the lanes create problems for filming because the green paint is very difficult to get rid of in post production. Also, they argue that other major cities don’t have green bike lanes, a claim that is demonstrably false.
Behind the scenes, the two City Council Members that represent the geographic area of Hollywood have both pushed to delay, or cancel the repainting. Council Member Eric Garcetti’s office confirmed their interest in delaying the project, but later conceded that it should be the decision of the Mayor’s Office and Huizar. Council Member Tom LaBonge was more aggressive in defending his position that the green in the bike lane should be allowed to fade away.
Meanwhile, the Mayor’s Office is looking for some cover. A former transportation deputy promised to let the lane fade away to Film L.A., and the industry is loudly making noise that Antonio Villaraigosa’s team is publicly breaking a promise. While representatives of the bike community and Downtown Neighborhood Council are loudly supporting the lane, the opposition from Garcetti and LaBonge are making the Mayor’s life harder, especially since much of the current staff might be looking for a job with Garcetti in the next couple of months.
“What we have to do is be consistent,” Labonge stated in a phone interview with Streetsblog. “There’s an important evolution of bike lanes, and we need to have consistent markings. I don’t know who’s idea it was to paint it green, but that’s not going to be duplicated (elsewhere in the city).”
LaBonge seemed unfamiliar with the growing trend of green painted bike lanes in other major cities around the world, but to his credit did propose an alternative. While he didn’t use the specific term, LaBonge advanced the idea of a regular buffered bike lane on Spring Street with colored bike boxes at the intersection.
“I think we can achieve the (safety) goal by doing what they do in other cities. At each intersection there’s a “poster size” green to show where the bike lane is,” he continued. ” It must be uniform, recognizable and respected…Whether you’re in the San Fernando Valley, or Downtown or Boyle Heights. People have to know what it’s (the street markings) for.”
Meanwhile, when asked whether or not current front-runner to replace Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wanted to let the bike lane fade, a spokesperson for Garcetti’s city council office gave a somewhat terse response.
“That’s inaccurate,” responded spokesperson Diego De La Garza. “We asked the Mayor’s office to convene a meeting with constituents on both sides prior to taking action.”
When informed that meetings had taken place with the Downtown Neighborhood Council, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, staff for Council Member Huizar and representatives from the film industry. All of the groups except Film L.A. enthusiastically endorsed repainting the bike lane.
“We weren’t in attendance and haven’t been updated on the meeting results,” De La Garza responded. “It’s up to the Mayor and Councilmember Huizar to make a decision.”
This begs the question what if Garcetti were mayor?