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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.

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.

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