It Should Be Easy Being Green – Responding to the L.A.Times

We're losing the google battle on the Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane. Thanks, L.A. Times.

For the second time in just over a month, the Los Angeles Times devoted a good portion of its real estate to hitting the Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane. A lot of the piece hits the same points as last month’s editorial on the same topic, but transportation writer Ari Bloomekatz goes into greater detail and includes interviews with Film L.A. and even a brief recap of Carlos Morales’ run-in with a film crew last week.

In an attempt to head off a flood of anti-Green Bike Lane stories, Streetsblog would like to respond to some of the points in the story.

1) The Green Lane Ruins the “Anytown USA” feel of Spring Street for film companies

I have to admit that I’m far from an expert on this, so I talked to a former producer, who asked not to be named in this story, if this was true.  His response, “as if the green lane would show up in the film and ruin the shot and the opportunity to convince the world that this street is NY or Chicago or Budapest or Bangkok or Saigon or Nairobi or any other urban street filled with cars that are registered in CA and operated by unlicensed operators who lack insurance.”

Taking out the rampant sacrasm in the above quote, the writer does hit a point that there are a lot of cities that do have green bike lanes and that more and more of them are coming online.  In the long term, the film industry could be thrilled that there are green bike lanes in L.A.

2) Drivers are confused by the lane and try to drive in it.

Those drivers should be ticketed.  The Driver’s Manual is very clear about driving in bike lanes.  It says nothing about color.  Don’t drive in bike lanes. This is basic.

3) The paint keeps peeling/fading/looks bad

First off, Streetsblog completely agrees that the green paint job is pretty poor.  However, this isn’t a unique problem.  Perhaps the most famous green bike lane in America is the 9th Street Bike Lane in New York City.  A picture of the lane appears on the right.

Actually, it turns out the painted lane on the right is from Carmine Street in New York City.  The general point remains.

LADOT says they are working on a solution.  If they find one, they might actually find themselves ahead of the game.

4) Nobody told the film community this was happening.

You’re not going to find Streetsblog defending outreach on the green bike lanes after last month’s story by Morales on teh outreach for the 1st Street Green Lane in Boyle Heights.  It seems that LADOT has learned their lesson on this one and is talking to Film L.A. before implementing any other street changes in areas with a lot of filming.  Hopefully, they’re consulting with the industry, not giving them a veto.

5) “We haven’t really figured out a way to coexist if we have to temporarily impede the bike lane,”

Get a permit.  Close the lane with barriers.  Put up signage directing cyclists to other places to bike.  Same as you do with car lanes.  This is basic.

If more articles appear on the lane, Streetsblog will continue to respond to them, even if we end up repeating ourselves over and over.


  • Mig

    More bike lanes.  More us of green areas, particularly at conflict/merge points.  Thanks, Damien.

  • Anonymous

    If anything, this experiment (which is what it is)may finally prove that MUTCD needs to be amended to allow for Danish/Dutch-style cycletracks.

  • Davistrain

    I think it depends on the budget of the TV or movie production how thoroughly they “disguise” the fact that the action that’s supposedly “back east” is really being filmed or taped in LA.  If the production team really cares about details, they’ll have Metro reroute the big orange and red buses, put up fake street signs, and edit out any “iconic” buildings. 

  • This is silly. The article in LA Times came out AFTER I stumbled onto yet another film set on Spring & 6th. I took a picture of it because it was funny to see NY traffic going NB while CA traffic went SB, on a one-way street. The film industry is still using Spring St. It’s stupid to continue whining about it when clearly there is not problem. The camera is in front of the theater center, pointed toward me. I was told I was in the shot. oops.

  • James

    I’ve tried to make this point elsewhere but no one tells Canadian cities that they need to refrain from improving their streets and public spaces for the sake of their film industry.  It’s not hard to find brightly coloured features on Canadian streets that don’t belong  in anytown USA.   Last night I watched Fairly Legal for the first time and instantly recognized it as Vancouver.  How would the local press have responded if an American film crew had told the city off for painting its street lights blue and yellow or for the highly visible pedestrian crossings and what about those bright green lanes and boxes?  Vancouver has a good deal more green pain on the street than LA.    Someone at streetsblog should talk to someone in Vancouver and get a hold of some photos of the other anytown USA.


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