Tag Archive for FilmLA Inc

Hollywood’s anti-bike green lane myth rises again; Culver City Chamber pres comes out against bikes

Just in time for April Fools Day, the myth of the Hollywood-destroying green bike lanes rears its ugly head once again.

A brief biased story appeared on the website of the L.A. Times over the weekend, quoting a representative of the Teamsters union decrying the buffered lanes designed to keep cyclists safe as they ride south through Downtown.

The man, who represents unionized Hollywood location scouts, claimed the particular shade of green used for the bike path made it impossible to use Spring Street as a location to represent any other city in America, or any time in the past, as it was somehow impossible to cover-up, shoot around or remove in post production.

Evidently, according to him, that particular shade can’t be removed in post, even though green screens are exactly what are used for special effects. And even though others who work in Hollywood have said it shouldn’t be a problem.

Yet somehow, a multi-billion dollar industry that for over a century has created creatures, cities and worlds that don’t even exist is apparently stymied in their ability to cover up a little green paint.

Or maybe they somehow can’t squeeze the relative pittance it would cost into their bloated multi-million dollar budgets without adversely affecting the producer’s cut or maybe the lunch budget.

Then there’s the location scout quoted in the article, who, despite being described as a veteran scout, has absolutely no idea that green bike lanes exist in any other city in the country.

Evidently, she’s never been to Santa Monica. Or Long Beach.

Not to mention, as a commenter to the story pointed out, Portland, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Boulder, DC, Arlington, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

You’d think a decent location scout might know about something that appears in such a broad spectrum of the country, with even more on the way.

So let me offer a low tech, low cost and multi-use solution.

The city’s film authority, FilmLA, should have a mat made to match the color and texture of the surrounding pavement, and rent it out to film crews ridiculously apoplectic over the presence of green on the street.

Sort of like film crews have done for decades to cover up train tracks, as well as countless other street markings.

Or use any one of the multitude of techniques Hollywood has used for decades to hide things they don’t want you to see in the final footage. Or just accept that these are rapidly becoming common markings that shouldn’t shock or offend anyone living in Iowa, or in this century, for that matter.

Then again, as the head of FilmLA pointed out last year, the last time this myth circulated, the real objection was never that the lanes interfered with filming.

It was that they interfered with parking.

Film crews have long been used to free parking along L.A. Streets. And didn’t want to have to pay to park their production trucks, or go through the relatively easy process of getting a permit allowing them to block the bike lane.

And cyclists don’t want those trucks blocking the few feet of street dedicated to keeping us safe, and forcing us into traffic lanes with drivers unwilling to safely share them.

In other words, exactly what happens pretty much every day. And every night.

And yet, still hasn’t stopped a boom in ridership.

It’s bad enough that a few misguided Hollywood types want to park in our bike lanes, and can’t manage to find a solution to the federally mandated shade of green.

It’s worse that the writer for the Times didn’t bother to talk with anyone who might have presented another side of the story.

And evidently, didn’t have access Google, Bing or any other search site that might have allowed him to fact check the crap they were feeding him.

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Speaking of bike lanes, Flying Pigeon calls on cyclists to help save planned Northeast L.A. bike lanes from kneejerk anti-bike NIMBYist opposition with two vital Neighborhood Council meetings this week, one today and another on Thursday.

In possibly the most asinine story in the history of the bike lane debate, here or anywhere else, an Eagle Rock pot shop advocate comes out against the proposed bike lanes on Colorado Blvd because, wait for it, his arch rival pot shop opponent is for them.

Seriously, I’ve checked the date on the story several times hoping this was an April Fool joke, rather than just a massive waste of cyberspace and credibility.

And as long as we’re citing Flying Pigeon as the source for news on important meetings, the quarterly Bike Plan Implementation Team (BPIT) meeting takes place from 2 pm to 5 pm this afternoon at City Hall East, 200 Main Street; the link also has instructions how to participate online.

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Evidently, at least some members of the Culver City Chamber of Commerce would be just as happy if bikes didn’t sully their streets.

Despite the local Chamber signing on as a supporter of CicLAvia, its president has joined with the usual bike haters in coming out against Metro’s new Every Lane is a Bike Lane campaign.

Stephen J. Rose, president of the chamber, offered his own thoughts in a letter published on the Culver City Patch website.

Here are a few points I would like to ask about bicyclist’s responsibility:

  • Insurance in case of an accident. Is my uninsured motorist insurance going to be raised because of bicyclists’ rights?
  • Motorcyclists are required to wear helmets. Are all bicyclists?
  • Why can a bicyclist ride in the street and then on the sidewalk and then back on to pedestrian walkways?
  • Bicyclists should not only have lights on the front and rear of their bikes, but lights that can be seen from a legal distance.
  • Should bicyclists be allowed to straddle the white line and then stop in front of vehicles at a red light?
  • Why do bicyclists not stop at stop signs, as vehicles legally must do?
  • How do we tax bicyclists for maintenance of the right of way, as motor vehicle owners have to do?

Just a few thoughts as the rights of bicyclists may become more important than motorists.

I’m not going to bother correcting the errors in his comments. Particularly since there’s little else there.

Others have already taken him to task in the comments to the story. And Just Another Cyclist has done a great job of dissecting the letter, slicing and dicing the fallacies until there’s nothing left but the signature.

And even that comes into question, because, despite the disclaimer that those are Rose’s own comments and don’t reflect the attitudes of the Culver City Chamber of Commerce, he does exactly that by identifying himself as its president.

Personally, I always thought that the purpose of any Chamber of Commerce was to promote business interests in the city.

But all Rose has done with his misguided letter is suggest that maybe we should take our business somewhere else.

Update: In my rush to get this online last night, I inadvertently left out the link to the original letter on the Patch website; thanks to Margaret for the correction.

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An Echo Park fixie rider collides with a pedestrian, sending both to the hospital with apparent serious injuries; the cyclist’s riding partner said they’d both been drinking before the crash. Better Bike says change may be in the air for cyclists in the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills, where the bike lane ends. Santa Clarita cyclists ride to raise funds for the Child and Family Center. Our coastal neighbor to the south will host a day long Green Prix of Long Beach on April 20th, including free bike valet, raffle and group ride. Carlsbad is widening bike lanes to give riders more room. A San Diego School Board Member calls for transforming one of the city’s most dangerous boulevards into a world class greenway, including cycletracks. San Diego becomes the latest California city to remove a bike licensing requirement, at a cost of a whole $260 dollars from city coffers. A bike riding child was injured in a Ventura collision last week; thanks to Steve Herbert for the link. Cyclelicious offers a roundup of biking April Fools jokes.

Bob Mionske provides additional advice on how and when to fight a ticket. Bike Snob says Portland kinda makes him want to puke. Vancouver WA cyclists fight to keep bike lanes from being replaced with sharrows. A Boise bicyclist survives a Dr. Thompson-style brake check. What it’s like to own and ride a bakfiets, which is pronounced like what I have to wipe off after walking the Corgi on rainy days — back feets. This is why you always ride with ID, as Erie police try to identify a bike rider seriously injured in a collision with a car. The not-exactly bike friendly NYPD sticks a popular bike nonprofit bike ride with a $1 million bill to provide security. A Georgia bicyclist is apparently killed by an Escalade-driving hit-and-run motorist leaving a showing of The Croods with two small children. Baton Rouge police will hold an online auction of abandoned and seized bikes this month, but you have to pick up your bike in person.

Vancouver drivers are up in arms over a whopping $3000 spent to provide bike repair stations for commuter cyclists. Totonto cyclist doesn’t make it through a crosswalk before a right-turning semi; needless to say, authorities blame the victim. A former Brit champion cyclist still rides his tricycle at age 100. Shortly after an Irish man returns from an extended visit to the U.S., he’s killed riding to the local pub on Easter Sunday. Fabian Cancellara, aka Spartacus, breaks the competition one by one to win the Tour of Flanders. Meanwhile, second place finisher Peter Sagan is roundly criticized for grabbing the ass of a podium girl; he’s really, really sorry, but the better question is, why do we still have podium girls to begin with? Thanks to Michael Eisenberg for the heads-up. A Swedish study shows elderly riders should use step through frames — not women’s bikes, thank you — to avoid injuries. Kind of sad that this is a big step forward, as Saudi women finally get the right to ride a bike, but only in restricted areas; thanks to Rex Reese for the tip.

Finally, if you’re going to use a bike as your getaway vehicle, wouldn’t you want something a little faster than a beach cruiser?

And one last thought.

The oft-expressed idea that there’s a war on cars makes as much sense as mice declaring a war on elephants. The elephants might be afraid, but it’s the mice who are in danger.

Hollywood blocked bikeways may be common, but not legal; moving story on fallen cyclist Alex Romero

It something we’ve all gotten used to living here in the greater metaphorical Hollywood.

And something we shouldn’t have to.

If you’ve ridden much around this city, chances are, you’ve found your way blocked by a movie crew, TV set or a commercial photo shoot at some point, forcing you to wait until the scene or shoot is over.

Or maybe you’ve run into my pet peeve — movie crews parked along the side of the road, with orange safety cones placed in the middle of the bike lane to protect their precious trucks from passing cyclists, forcing you out into traffic with little or no warning.

And often as not, with no legal basis.

Take the photo shoot Todd Munson encountered on his way home last week on the Ballona Creek Bike Path.

They were set up near the eastern end. When I rolled up they had a scrim set up that was a good 10 feet high and as wide as the path. Because of it, I had to come to a full stop and announce my presence before they even noticed I was there. Based on how “fashionable” they all were I’m guessing they came from the nearby Smashbox Studio.

When I realized how much I was “hassling” them by having to move their equipment to make some room, I asked if they had a permit for the shoot. Everyone just sort looked at each other and mumbled incomplete sentences. The guy who was apparently in charge was the one covering his face in the first photo. The amazing thing to me was that nobody including him was at all apologetic. The best they could do was “Hey man, we didn’t think anyone would be here.” And a couple of them even tried getting tough.

The other funny part was that girl in the red shirt in photo number 3 asked that I not take anyone’s picture.

Good times.

Problem is, unless they did have a permit, what they were doing was completely illegal. Section 21211 of the California Vehicle Code reads:

21211.   (a) No person may stop, stand, sit, or loiter upon any class I bikeway, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, or any other public or private bicycle path or trail, if the stopping, standing, sitting, or loitering impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of any bicyclist.

But it doesn’t stop there. It goes on to prohibit parking or placing anything on the bike path that would block it, as well.

(b) No person may place or park any bicycle, vehicle, or any other object upon any bikeway or bicycle path or trail, as specified in subdivision (a), which impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of any bicyclist unless the placement or parking is necessary for safe operation or is otherwise in compliance with the law.

Of course, there are additional subsections specifying a handful exceptions, none of which apply in the situation Munson encountered. Or to the overwhelming majority of cases you might encounter that would delay your ride more than a few moments.

Then there’s the matter of blocked bike lanes.

As we’ve discussed before, bike lanes are considered traffic lanes by the LAPD, just like the larger lanes to their left. And just as it’s illegal to block any other traffic lane, it’s against the law to block a bike lane — whether with trash cans, orange cones or double parked vehicles.

The question is whether L.A.’s favorite industry enjoys a special exemption when it comes to their trucks.

The afore mentioned Mr. Munson, who seems to be having a rash of bad luck with this sort of thing lately, reached out to myself and Tony Arranaga, who works in the office of 11th District Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, after a recent encounter with bike lanes blocked by a movie crew on San Vicente Blvd in the Brentwood area.

Tony was kind enough to connect us with Geoffrey Smith, Director of Community Relations with FilmLA Inc, the agency responsible for overseeing the massive amount of filming that takes place in this city on a daily basis.

Once again, I’ll let Todd explain the situation:

The specific incident I encountered occurred in Brentwood along San Vicente last Thursday morning (3/24). A film production had vehicles parked on both sides of San Vicente near the golf course and had laid out large cones along the respective bike lanes.

The cones were placed on the outer edge of the bike line cutting down its width to the point that it was no longer safe to use. Any cyclist who chose to stay in the bike lane was faced with a lose-lose situation as they were forced to ride dangerously close to parked vehicles. Should a door swing open or a crew member walk out from between the vehicles, the tightly spaced cones to the immediate left eliminated any chance for a safe escape.

The only option for a cyclist wishing to avoid this mess would be to exit the bike lane and ride in traffic. This option was equally undesirable and dangerous as motorists tend to treat San Vicente as a mini freeway- especially during the morning rush hour.

Attached is quick diagram I made with the help of Google Street View illustrating the dangerousness of the situation.

To reiterate what Ted stated, those cones served no functional purpose other than creating a life-threatening situation for cyclists. Should the status quo be allowed to remain, it’s not a matter of if but when a deadly accident will occur.

That drew the following response from Smith, who answered promptly the next morning:

1)      No, the company should not have put cones in the bike path. It seems that the Transportation Captain was perhaps a little overzealous in trying to let everyone know that there was a trailer parked on the street. Why he felt that the general public would fail to see a trailer 8’ wide by 7’ high will undoubtedly remain a mystery.

2)      Yes, a company can close a bike path BUT, it requires submitting a traffic plan to DOT, showing what alternate route(s) are being created, via cones, barricades, signage, so that bicyclists are not forced into traffic. DOT has to approve of the closure before it will be allowed.

3)      As an FYI, FilmL.A. is 24/7. If you should run into this situation again, PLEASE call us 213/977.8600 ASAP. Let us check and see a) if there is a permit and b) if they have a closure of the bike path.

4)      I am also annoyed if they were parking on both side of San Vicente. Parking on the north side is not allowed.

I don’t know about you, but I’m putting that phone number in my speed dial.

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Dj Wheels, who has been very busy keeping up with local bike-related criminal cases lately, shares the news that 19-year olds Patrick Roraff and Brett Morin will face trial for the death of rising pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado in Highland one year ago.

Roraff and Morin were allegedly street racing at around 70 mph when Roraff lost control and hit Alvarado, who died on the side of the road, far from his family and friends in Mexico.

According to the Press-Enterprise, the two will be arraigned on May 12th on a single count each of vehicular manslaughter.

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Chances are, you’ve never heard of the San Fernando Valley Sun. But maybe you should.

Once again, they’ve written movingly about the death of yet another teenage Valley cyclist murdered by a hit-and-run driver.

Just six months ago, it was Danny Marin*; this time, it’s Alex Romero, run down by a speeding driver on De Soto Avenue in Canoga Park last week.

Consider the heart-rending pathos in the first paragraph alone:

Tomorrow, April 29, Maria De La Paz “Pacita” Romero will have to find the strength to bury her teenaged son. “Empty. I feel empty,” Maria said as she attempts to describe the loss of her son, German Alex Romero, a 17-year-old promising soccer player whose life was tragically cut short last week when he was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Canoga Park.

Remarkably, Romero’s family doesn’t bear any animosity towards the still unidentified driver; his mother saying “God bless him” of the man who killed her son.

The family would also like Romero’s death to serve a positive purpose. Their desire is for new bicycle markings to be placed on the street where he was killed, as well as additional lighting, a traffic light and cameras.

“We would like Alex’s sacrifice to be worth something,” Fuentes said. “He came to this earth for 17 years to give light to everybody, motorists and bicyclists, so that we may be more careful to make ourselves aware of everybody who’s on the road.”

Seriously, stop whatever you’re doing, and take just a few minutes to read a very well-written story about the massive hole a heartless driver has left in what appears to be a remarkable, and remarkably forgiving, family.

But don’t be surprised if you find a few tears in your eyes before you’re done.

*Unfortunately, the original Sun story is no longer available online.

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Finally, the LACBC reports that the peak hour restrictions limiting bikes on Metro trains have been lifted, effective immediately. While the bike ban has been widely ignored in recent months, the action of the Metro Board means you can now take your bike on any Metro train, any time, to any destination.

As train cars come in for servicing, they will have seats removed to create additional standing and storage room to provide more space for bikes, as well as other large objects such as strollers and shopping bags.

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