Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane Will Not Ruin Every Film Made in the Future

(This is part 1 of a 3 part series on the battle over the Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane. More to come tomorrow and Friday. – DN)

Last night, city staff confirmed to me what has long been rumored. The Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane, is indeed an endangered species. Rather than admit to cyclists that they’re caving to the mildly incoherent demands of the film, television and comercial industry, which just can’t seem to find anyplace in the world  that has green bike lanes or any other place in Downtown Los Angeles to shoot film, the city is just going to not repaint the lane.

My heroes. Just a quick note to the city’s political leadership, be they about to leave or enter office: putting in new infrastructure to a chorus of cheers is just half the fight. Keeping the infrastructure, especially after it has been wildly successful, is the other half. Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

While the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition is encouraging the city to keep the lane and blasting the rigidness of the industry (you can join them, here). Streetsblog believes the best of The Industry and that this is just a little misunderstanding. After all, filming in Los Angeles is actually way up this year, even as that bike lane remains green. So to help out anyone who really wants to shoot in Downtown Los Angeles but can’t figure out what to do with Spring Street, we prepared this map.

Dear location scout, the above Google Map is a rough screenshot of Downtown Los Angeles, using the 110 on the west and the L.A. River  (and just off the image) on the east as boundaries. The blue area marks where there is a green buffered bike lane. Literally any other street does not. If you are on a street with a green lane and you cannot find one without it, literally go to any other street in the Downtown. If you still need help, call someone, literally anyone in the world, and ask them how to walk one block to the east or west.

It’s really not that hard.

For example, just last week, the Daily Mirror featured a full photo shoot from a scene where L.A. is used as a stand in for New York City, and the green lane didn’t appear once. Ironically, New York is one of the many cities across the world that have green bike lanes.

Of course, not everyone shares our optimism that the film, television and commercial industry is full of rational people that care about the safety and well being of the people around them. When the argument over whether or not to keep the lanes first bloomed last year, and The Industry successfully stopped the green painting of the Main Street and Venice bike lanes, a Film L.A. spokesman made the case in L.A. Weekly that the green was only part of the problem. The other part was that the bike lanes existed at all.

Can bicyclists, Downtown residents (who’s Neighborhood Council pushed the project from the beginning) and environmentalists keep the lane green? If city officials are going to bend backwards for The Industry, it might depend on what value those with the cameras place on keeping the city safe.

  • James C.

    I wonder if Vancouver and NYC lost productions because of their green lanes, or bike lanes in general? If the green lanes are such a problem I challenge Film LA to show a negative correlation between bikelane miles and film permits for NYC and Vancouver. Show me a graph that show bike lane miles growing per year and film shoots decking per year city wide. Show me a graph of the film shoots on any popular street before and after a bike lane. Is there a sharp decline? People always complain that LA is losing film industry jobs to Vancouver and NYC. Those jobs started leaving LA years before the 2010 Bike Plan. It’s time for Film LA should be busy addressing the real reason those jobs are leaving LA and not scapegoating bike lanes.

  • ubrayj02

    Wait – are the lanes going to go away altogether? Or is this simply about the green paint?

  • Anonymous

    Random question on this type of facility (green bike lane)… are they noticeably slick/slippery when it rains? Striping always seems a little slicker than pavement when you walk on it. But I haven’t ridden a bike on a lane like that yet.

  • BrianMojo

    Major irony alert: the photos from that Daily Mirror article were taken ON SPRING STREET.

  • John Lloyd

    The fact that numerous cities have green bike lanes and more install them every year (see London, New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, etc., etc.) gives lie to the Industry’s bogus claim that Spring Street’s green bike lane makes it harder for L.A. to stand in for other cities. More troubling is the unintentionally revealing comment in the Weekly that they just don’t like bike lanes, period.

  • James

    They’re threatened by the possibility that this part of downtown LA will become as lively and crowded as Manhattan, making filming more difficult and neighboorhood opposition more likely. They won’t admit it but they are perfectly happy with the way downtown is or recently was. Abandoned or underused buildings, unused store front property owners desperate for any revenue and few locals (with political clout) to stand in their way. Downtown was their most realistic NY set, and now people want to live and work there and get in their way. How dare they!

  • J

    Nope, and you see bike lanes in more and more in movies and TV shows. “Shame” has a great scene where the main character runs across Manhattan crossing several protected bike lanes. Vancouver has a car ad filmed on a street with a green, 2-way protected bike lane. Basically, it’s only in LA that this is even an issue.

  • Marino

    Let me play devil’s advocate here and answer “why not film on any other street downtown?” Spring street and Main street are used by film production companies first because of the architecture and second because getting a permit there is easier compared to other downtown streets. Why is it easier? For the same reasons that the DOT picked them to have the bike lanes. They are one way streets, so closing down a lane or doing traffic control has less impact.

    Production companies can’t get a permit to do on other streets downtown what they are allowed to do on Spring and Main except on weekends or late at night.

    So it’s not as simple as “pick any other street”. Figueroa, Flower, Grand have a different look. Main, Spring, Broadway, Olive, Hill, 4th,5th,6th,7th,8th, have a similar look but they are not all equally available.

    Frankly I believe the fillmmakers could live with the bike lanes, it’s just the green color and only in the blocks between 2nd & 7th that’s undesirable.

  • James C.

    Green paint only

  • They use slip resistant paint. The paint gets filled with sand or something for traction

  • Everyone knows that green is the one color that hollywood cant brush out.

  • Ding ding ding ding!

  • Matt, this was actually a major issue just a couple of years ago when the city was delaying and delaying installing Sharrows. For months at a time advocates were told LADOT was researching what kind of paint to use so it wouldn’t get slippery. It seems they figured it out.

  • PC

    Just out of curiosity, how many of these one-of-a-kind, indispensable, unique architectural features not to be found anywhere else in Los Angeles (but which are used generically to represent unspecified “typical” urban streets anywhere in the Western world) exist at ground level where a green stripe can’t be blocked from a shot or scrubbed from it later?

  • Anonymous

    Jass, Damien, thanks for the replies!

  • Anonymous

    New York has added miles and miles of green bike lanes.

    Ergo, their presence in LA makes the city more closely resemble NYC.

  • Gary

    Considering the technology at the film studios disposal these days I think it would be quite easy to photoshop out the green during post production if the shot really required that one section of street.

  • El Barto

    heh. Does the industry not know about the DEPT of DIY? I see rainbows and unicorns in the near future keeping this alive.


Eyes on the Street: Goodbye Green

At the request of the City Council, the city was hard at work last night making Spring Street in Downtown Los Angeles a less safe and attractive place to be by removing the green paint in the city’s first green buffered bike lane. The buffered bike lane will remain, with the city testing a new, […]