LADOT and Film Industry Agree to Compromise on Green Bike Lanes

LADOT and film industry representatives have agreed on just how green bike lanes can be. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
LADOT and film industry representatives have agreed on just how green bike lanes can be. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

This afternoon,  the L.A. City Council Entertainment and Facilities Committee discussed a motion that would limit green-colored bike lanes in order to support L.A.’s film and television industry.

The discussion was the result of a 2016 motion (Council File 13-0479-S1) by City Councilmember Bob Blumenfeld. The motion states:

The City has a strong interest in continuing to promote film and television production, and ensuring that it does not create unnecessary impediments to location shooting on our streets. […]

However, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation has used a bright, highly reflective color green for these bike lane markings. This color creates problems for location filming on Los Angeles streets, including challenges in post-production, conflicts with “green screens,” and reflected light from the lanes.

I THEREFORE MOVE that the Council direct the Department of Transportation to implement non-reflective forest green color as the standard pavement color for bike facilities, unless the General Manager authorizes an exception.

Over the past year, the city Department of Transportation (LADOT) has been meeting with representatives of the film industry to find solutions that work to support street safety and filming. One key focus of the working group has been to find a specific shade of green paint that is acceptable to both parties.

In its staff report, LADOT reported that that color has been found and agreed upon: Pantone 349 c with chromaticity coordinates x-0.2801, y=0.4736.

At this point, though, both parties could only agree on one green “paint” product in this color: Endurablend – the product used for the decorative surface for the Broadway Dress Rehearsal project. The color appears slightly lighter using thermoplastic, which is the type of essentially durable “paint” that LADOT uses for striping, so, for the time being, LADOT will not be installing green thermoplastic, but instead only using Endurablend.

In the coming year, according to LADOT engineer Tim Fremaux, LADOT plans to install green pavement markings on the Great Streets projects on Van Nuys Boulevard and Venice Boulevard – as well as the under-construction MyFig complete streets project.

In addition to determining the color, the working group examined the overlap of the places where LADOT plans bicycle improvements and the industry’s “high filming” locations. For 67.7 miles of high filming street segments without existing or planned bicycle lanes and not on the High Injury Network, LADOT committed to a three-year moratorium on the use of green colored pavement. For other high filming streets, LADOT committed to notifying FilmLA in advance before adding green paint. LADOT Chief of Staff Bridget Smith testified that the department does not plan to “paint all over” but commits to use green “as judiciously as possible.”

In testimony before the committee today, L.A. County Bicycle Coalition Policy and Outreach Coordinator Lyndsey Nolan cautioned that “the film industry should not be designing our streets; the DOT should.” LACBC Executive Director Tamika Butler has asserted “If we let the film industry design streets in this way, what’s the limit? We anticipate that they’ll slowly push back on other things.”

Industry representatives – from SAG-AFTRA, MPAA, and VICA – testified lukewarmly that they were “not opposed” to the green bikeway solution and found it “workable.”

Committee members Mitch O’Farrell and Joe Buscaino affirmed the compromise solution. LADOT will report back to the committee in one year, and will continue to meet with the film industry as needed.

Though there were past controversies over green bike lanes on heavily-filmed Spring and Main Streets in downtown L.A., today’s hearing had relatively little animosity. LADOT does not plan to include a green surface when it transitions Spring and Main to protected bikeways later this year.

Many have questioned the fuss over green bike lanes, which can be removed fairly easily in post production. Given that many L.A. streets are filmed to stand in for New York City, where green and protected bikeways are proliferating and becoming the norm, at some point the film industry may need to add green bikeways to get a more authentic contemporary NYC look. Also, given the popularity of LADOT’s People St plazas being used for video, perhaps the film industry could ally with livability advocates to support creating great spaces worthy of filming.

  • Jason

    Don’t they shut down streets to do filming? At which point they cold just lay down a non-green covering over it that’s easier to remove in post, if it really is such a problem for them.

  • AB3

    I biked down Spring St yesterday afternoon and I noticed that while the bike lane between 1st and 3rd streets has been reopened after the first phase of Regional Connector construction, the dark green has not been added back. So it appears that moratorium has begun.

  • RedMercury

    Well, you can fix anything in post. But it takes time. Time = Money.

    I can film on this street. It will cost me $X + $Y to fix it in post. Or I can film somewhere else where I don’t have to spend the $Y to fix it in post.

  • 1976boy

    Making location filming, which contributes far less money to the economy than residential development, a higher priority in street design is insane.

  • shamelessly

    This is pretty damn disgusting. Implementing street designs that save lives should not be blocked by any industry.

  • Gonzalo Estévez

    Seems like both sides worked out an amicable and workable compromise. Why all the negative comments?

  • Joe Linton

    Generally you’re right – both sides got a bit less than what they wanted, so it’s a mutually acceptable compromise. I think some of the negative comments stem from the film industry meddling in the past to de-green Spring Street… and, overall, the film industry was able to essentially water down a safety standard – the shade of green chosen is slightly less visible than the yellower green shade more commonly used in cities throughout the U.S.

  • Gonzalo Estévez

    Thanks, Joe. Now you have me wondering if anyone has quantified whether or not a particular color or shade has a measurable impact on safety…

  • Joe Linton

    Not sure if there’s a study – but my hunch would be: the more visible the more effective

  • aka_SFB

    So we have City Council member Bob Blumenfeld asserting/justifying: “However, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation has used a bright, highly reflective color green for these bike lane markings. This color creates problems for location filming on Los Angeles streets, including challenges in post production, conflicts with “green screens,” and reflected light from the lanes.”

    A quick [re]search on “green screens” elucidates what “chromakeying” really is:
    1. “The secret to pulling your subject out of the real world and placing him or her into a digital domain is chromakey,”
    2. “Keying is the process of isolating a single color or brightness value in an electronic image and using software to make that value transparent, allowing another image to show through the affected areas. Luminance keying, or lumakeying, is the process of keying out a brightness value or range, like black or white. Luminance keys are often used for applying mattes. Color keying, or chromakeying, identifies a specific color to remove.”
    3. “In a nutshell, the chromakey process designates a single, very narrowly defined color in one video image and electronically replaces that color with a second image, leaving the rest of the picture untouched.”
    4. “Many people use the terms chromakeying and greenscreening interchangeably, but the principle that powers chrominance keying is not limited to the green parts of the spectrum. In the visual effects world of Hollywood, blue screens are far more common than green. In fact, you can key out any color; red, yellow, purple or pink, blue and yes, green. So why is that odd and ugly shade of green the hue of choice for television and video? The biggest factor is contrast. In order to isolate one area from the rest, the background color must be distinctly different. Bright green beats blue partially because it is not a color commonly worn by talent.”

    [sources:
    https://www.videomaker.com/article/c10/17026-how-does-green-screen-work
    https://www.videomaker.com/article/f8/3409-the-chromakey-genie
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chroma_key%5D

    Hmm; makes one wonder doesn’t it.

  • Erik Knutzen

    How far can the film industry’s argument be carried? Fire hydrants are bright yellow. Wouldn’t they interfere with shots less if we painted them all a dull grey? How about those bright new crosswalks? Wouldn’t they be less obtrusive in the background shots of Transformer movies or Red Bull ads if they were also less bright? Why are we having an aesthetic discussion in what is presumably the domain of engineers whose standards involve research-based conclusions?

  • Guy Ross

    ‘People not dying while biking’ is generally not a key political donation body that policymakers pay attention to.

  • Of course one must ask: what other city is there a color problem with bike lanes?

  • neroden

    Well, I’m glad they found a different shade of green, but seriously, what the hell?

    Is the film industry the reason LA fire hydrants are yellow instead of red? Are the stop signs in LA yellow too?

  • neroden

    Blue screen is the original and was used way more often than green for a long time. They started using green because it isn’t present in props and costumes very often.

  • neroden

    Maybe they should. In NYC, a rich hedge fund manager was severely injured while biking and you would think the policymakers would have to listen..

  • aka_SFB

    OK. That is is the last quote notes. Not being versed in the nuances of videography I looked it up; thus the quotes.

    Given that various sports, for example football, soccer, and grass court tennis, – can work around it – presumably blue screen or hues distinction – I thought the rational for abating – if not subverting – LADOT plans was at best suspect if not specious. Perhaps I misunderstood “Keying is the process of isolating a single color or brightness value in an electronic image and using software to make that value transparent” based on my limited use of “Custom Colors” settings in various Adobe products.

    Either way interesting; especially w.r.t. the magic they can create.

  • Paul

    And the blue channel in video is the noisiest, so you can pull a cleaner key from green.