Update: Did LA Cyclists Just Get Hosed by Unanimous Vote?

(Update, 3:28 p.m.: Council Member Huizar sends along a rendering of the new design. The text of the final motion can be found here.)

The verdict is in. And it looks like Hollywood won.

The Los Angeles City Council just voted unanimously to replace the Spring Street green bike lanes with a new treatment hashed out behind closed doors — without hearing a single comment from the many bike riders present in the room.

Instead, the lanes will be restriped in white, with a narrow, four inch line of reflective dark green paint inside each line.

Hardly the highly visible lanes Downtown bike riders now enjoy, and which have resulted in a significant increase in bicycling on the street.

The council members called it a compromise that works for everyone. But many bike advocates walked out of the room feeling like they’d lost.

And knowing they hadn’t been heard.


After repeated delays, only a handful of bicyclists were in the crowded council chambers when the City Council took up the long-awaited discussion of repainting the green bike lanes on Spring Street.

And those who had somehow managed to free their schedule for a third day in less than a week sat through a full 90-minute tribute to outgoing Councilmember Dennis Zine — including crediting the former LAPD officer credit for the capture, if not conviction, of a speeding Justin Beiber — before the matter came up.

Then again, the speakers also gave him credit for getting four miles of bike paths installed along the L.A. River, as well as other bikeways throughout his district.

The question was whether he, and the other councilmembers, would vote to keep the popular, and highly successful, green bike lanes on Spring.

Popular, that is, with nearly everyone except Hollywood filmmakers. Despite the inexplicably one-side coverage from the city’s paper of record.

Those green bike lanes have proven hugely successful, resulting in a 51% increase in ridership on Spring the first year alone, with an additional projected 40% increase this year. In addition, it’s seen a 100% increase in weekday women riders — and a 650% increase in weekend ridership among women.

All this even though the paint on the bike lane has been cracked and faded since the initial installation, as LADOT has struggled to find paint that would adhere to the street’s uneven blend of concrete and asphalt.

Which was fine with the filmmakers, who complained that the stripe of green paint made it impossible to film on a street that has long stood in for business districts around the country and decades long past.

Evidently, their extensive research revealed that gangster-era Chicago or 1960’s New York City didn’t have many bike lanes, let alone green ones.

And that, unlike virtually every other anachronistic fixture on any other filming location in the entire history of Hollywood filmmaking, it was impossible to hide, shoot around or cover up. So working with Film LA, they reached an agreement to let the bike lanes fade into oblivion, despite their obvious success and popularity.

And that’s where things stood until Councilmembers Ed Reyes and Jose Huizar filed a motion to repaint the bike lanes, while finding compromises that would satisfy the stated objections of the film industry.

The negotiations have been ongoing ever since, resulting in at least one previous apparent agreement between the city, bicycle advocates and representatives of the film industry to alter the shade of green to make it less reflective, and greatly reduce the amount of pain on the street.

Yet, despite the claims of the industry, it wasn’t enough to satisfy them, leading representatives of the film industry to walk away from negotiations, rather than the other way around.

And despite the well-documented fallacies behind their arguments, they still managed to garner significant support from some members of the council, including Hollywood-adjacent Council Member Tom LaBonge, as well as newly elected Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The resulting compromise that was approved today was worked out in what insiders describe as intense negotiations in which everyone walked away unhappy with the final result, but all sides agreed not to oppose it, leading to the council’s unanimous vote.

The design that will end up on the street still must be approved by the California Traffic Control Devices Committee (CTCDC) since it’s considered an experimental treatment:

  1. A four-inch, dark green reflective stripe on the inside of each bike lane striping;
  2. A white bicycle symbol and arrow within a standard size dark green reflective area at the start of each block;
  3. White bicycle symbols and arrows at driveways, and at the end of each block in “storage” areas, and
  4. Resolution of the existing merge zones.

Basically, it offers a mid-range approach; a step up from the treatment used on First Street, while a step back from the full lane green currently employed on Spring. It will retain the current buffer zone, and feature full lane green blocks in the conflict zones.

The paint color to be used is one of the shades approved by the Federal government for use in bike lanes, and matches the shade used in New York — eliminating one of the industry’s objections that the street could no longer stand in for the city.

Whether it will be as noticeable, or feel as safe to riders, remains to be scene.

However, as Eric Bruins, Planning and Policy Director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition points out, it is a much more cost-effective design, which will speed the rollout of similar lanes across the city if it proves successful.

And as Rick Coco, Communications Director/Senior Advisor for Huizar’s office suggests, the industry’s stance was that the bike lanes should be removed entirely, so anything less than that should be seen as a victory.

I’m not sure the bike advocates who were prepared to fight for their bike lane before the council, but not given an opportunity to speak, would agree right now.

Myself included.

But I’ve heard from multiple sources that bike riders owe genuine thanks to Huizar for refusing to give in and insisting that some form of green bike lane had to remain on the street.

It’s not a victory. But it’s not a loss, either, even if it may feel that way right now.

The green bike lanes will remain on Spring Street.

But they’re going to look, and feel, very different.

And Hollywood didn’t win, after all.

  • brianmojo

    A compromise to a compromise is a retreat by any other name.

    This really upsets me. Anyone have an email address or physical address where I can send my thoughts?

  • rickrise
  • ubrayj02

    Where is he council video? If you use Firefox there is a a Video Downloader plugin that allows you to save streaming files from the LA city council’s website. It is quick work to then chop the video up in iMovie and upload it to Youtube. Renderings must have been presented.

    Too much campaign money from Hollywood for term limited law makers to pass up on. Hollywood could have asked for them to pose naked holding each other’s genitals and they’d have done it. You don’t win campaigns in LA’s with bike riding votes (yet) but with money for billboards and T.V. ads.

    There oughta be someone who can rally local businesses that benefit from bike projects together to hire a community organizer who can get out the bike votes in LA. It isn’t me, but someone oughta do it.

  • Aaron


    Here’s where the actual final motion will be posted once it’s online: http://cityclerk.lacity.org/lacityclerkconnect/index.cfm?fa=ccfi.viewrecord&cfnumber=13-0479

    From Ted’s description, this “compromise” sounds like a joke, but we’ll have to see the City’s exact description (and the implementation) before we know how bad it really is.

    On the (very meager) bright side — now that there is apparently a road treatment that meets the film industry’s approval/arbitrary veto power over public safety measures (if there is any merit to this treatment, which is still to be determined), we can fight like hell to get it implemented on Main St. and the other places the film industry has been bitching about.

  • The Reverend Dak

    Unanimously dirty. That is what politics in this country has become.

  • Marino

    Looks like another one of Huizar’s lose-lose solutions. The cyclists want all green, Hollywood wants no green, let’s paint thinner green stripes and everybody we’ll be unhappy.

  • Ted Rogers (bikinginla)

    No renderings were presented during the council session, though there was an illustration pinned to the bulletin board in the chambers. All that happened in session was a brief round or self-congratulatory comments, and a vote to accept the undescribed proposal from the Transportation Committee.

    It all happened so fast, I had to ask the LACBC’s Alek Bartrosouf what the hell had just happened, and what was approved.

  • I tend to agree. A tough spot for Huizar made doubly so by the position of LaBonge and the presumed position of Garcetti.

  • Aaron

    Anyone else appreciating the irony that the shade of green–which is all but being removed so that Spring Street can better “stand in” for New York–is actually called “‘New York’ Green” in the City’s own renderings?

    Really disgusted with Council and the film industry right now. Next time I see a film crew blocking the bike lane without a permit, I’m not sure I’ll feel as inclined to let it slide as I usually do.

  • John Lloyd

    This is definitely a big step backward for cyclists, for public safety, and for sustainability in LA. There are several aspects of this that are disturbing: (1) the way FilmLA was able to use lies in its opposition, (2) the way the local media (that means you, L.A. Times) completely bought the lies and often printed stories without offering the perspective of cyclists and others who disproved FilmLA’s bogus claims, and (3) the craven way the City Council made this decision behind closed doors without allowing cyclists a voice in the process. The combination of big lies, big money, a compliant mainstream media, and cowardly politicians was too much to overcome in this case.

  • Erik Griswold

    Following the Turnstile coverage today, I am not surprised at the cut ‘n’ paste nature of the media on this story too.

  • DJ

    The problem with this is that everywhere is a conflict zone; buffered bike lanes hardly protect at all. Spring has a ton of mid-block right turns into parking facilities. Drivers regularly use the bike lane as an extension of the right turn lane. And the bike lane is placed right in the door zone for parked cars–without paint drivers don’t look twice (like on Main). Typical half-baked solution for a half-baked city that is always close but can’t get the details right (the wall-facing seats at Spring Street park, anyone?).

    This sucks. Screw the city council and its undemocratic process.

  • riffic

    >Drivers regularly use the bike lane as an extension of the right turn lane

    Which is exactly how drivers should make a right turn, by merging into and turning from the right-most lane. Otherwise, there is a potential right-hook scenario.

  • Erik Griswold

    Once again, paint is not enough. We need to start demanding cycletracks which cannot “fade away”.

  • HarLAnn

    Just find out when FILM LA is filming and dump a big ass bucket of paint on the street. fuck em.

  • I think the issue DJ’s referring to is the tendency for drivers to enter the bike lane well before the right-turn-only lane begins, especially when traffic in the through lanes is backed up. I’ve observed this myself when riding down Spring; generally I don’t mind it too much and am willing to cut people some slack, but too often cars will end up sprawled across the bike lane to the point where it becomes unusable.

  • While the color may be an approved standard, that style of striping isn’t. Innovation is great, but legally, they need a waiver from the bureaucrats to try a new pavement scheme. Trying a new scheme also involves months of study before AND after, to see if its effective.

    Let me guess, the council members forgot to speak to the engineers and actually follow the law? Of course if theres ever a lawsuit, it isnt coming out of their paychecks.

  • DJ
  • riffic

    Wow, the number of cars in that Bike Lane is ridiculous. Perhaps the design isn’t fully intuitive if ten automobile drivers are blatantly driving on the lane. I don’t even know if signage would help in this case.

  • Anonymous

    The city of Los Angeles has 6,660 miles of roads and freeways, 5,431 miles of sidewalks and mixed use paths for pedestrians and 56 miles of paths for bicycles–less than 1% of the miles of infrastructure that motorists have. If there were only 56 miles of roads, how many people would be driving in LA? If the city took away the sidewalks and painted two stripes five feet apart on the streets for people to walk in, how many pedestrians would there be in this city?

    The Netherlands has 130,000 km of roads and 35,000 km of cycle paths. That’s about 27% as many km of cycle paths as there are roads for motor vehicles. Is it any wonder that the Netherlands has 26% modal share for bicycling and the city of Los Angeles has a bicycle commuting modal share of 1%?

    Paint treatment on streets is not infrastructure for bicycling. Nine out of ten adults would not ride on a busy street with only a line of paint separating them from fast moving motor vehicles and parents will not usually let their children ride a bicycle under those conditions.

  • jay

    hahaha, bicycles are for fags

  • cosmo

    i love how all of you guys talke about “letting it slide” or “you’ll give some slack”. LOL you wont do shit, ill open my car door on you and knock your dumbass over. get a car fag

  • sahra

    since disqus makes moderation all but impossible, i will say only that you have your facts mixed up: cigarettes do not tend to ride bicycles.

  • Niall Huffman

    Another internet tough guy. *yawn*

  • Alex Thompson

    LACBC says the following:

    “While the outcome is a step backward for the continued revitalization of Spring Street through downtown’s Historic Core (the Spring Street Park opened just this week!), the new design is not all bad for bicycling Angelenos. Today’s decision begins the next chapter of the City’s green lane pilot program, which tested different designs and materials on Spring Street and on 1st Street in Boyle Heights. As a result, LADOT now has a much better idea how to install green lanes to maximize their effectiveness while minimizing their cost.”

  • Anonymous

    are you sure?

  • Peace

    They were probably all out on their bikes cutting auto drivers off, slowing down lane progress and ignoring each and every red light in Los Angeles County.

  • cosmo

    ride ur bike on pch at night with no cops around and we will see how tough u r fag lol

  • i run over bike riders

    i know im thrilled! haha

  • the man

    fuck lance armstrong and every dipshit that rides a bike. i laugh at downed bike riders

  • Anonymous

    We’ll come to your house first the next time that happens, tough guy. Hope you enjoy Juvee.

  • VFX_Privateer

    FilmLA isn’t a studio or a production company. They are never filming because they are just the film office.

  • VFX_Privateer

    What lies, specifically, did they tell? The only one that tried to disprove them was the video about removing stripes in post production. Not removed in that video, however, was the green reflection they industry was complaining about.

  • nice article…….


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