Green bike lanes aren’t worth a damn if they’re blocked by Hollywood production trucks

This is me, post nuclear.

I went just this side of ballistic this afternoon, when news broke on the KCET blog that an agreement had been reached that would allow Hollywood productions to continue shooting on Spring and Main Streets in Downtown L.A.

Those pretty green bike lanes were already as good as gone, victim of a claim that they would prevent the twinned streets, which had previously been among the most popular filming locations in the city, from continuing to pass for Anytown, USA.

In fact, the story quoted Paul Audley, President of FilmLA, saying that filming was already down 10% to 15% since the green lane was installed. Even though green is the color most easily removed in post-production.

But not this particular shade of green, evidently. At least not according to the filmmakers.

And even though the green lane was already doing a pretty good job of removing itself.

Still, it had become quite clear in recent days that the color-testing LADOT had promised us to ensure the green paint would last for more than a few days was not going to happen anytime soon. And while the bike lanes would remain, the green paint would soon be a thing of the past.

Of course, as the late, great Dale Carnegie once wrote, there are two reasons for anything a man — or a film industry, for that matter — does. One that sounds good, and the real reason.

And in this case, it didn’t take long for the bike-hating LA Weekly to ferret out the reason behind the reason.

While they weren’t happy with the city’s choice of USDOT-dictated green, the studios were actually upset that they’d lost their access to free curbside parking. Because, you know, all those Hollywood studios and production companies can’t manage to find offstreet parking for their massive production trucks.

Or afford to pay for it out of their mutli-multi-million dollar budgets.

Even though Downtown L.A. has more parking per acre than anywhere else on earth, according to UCLA parking maven Donald Shoup.

So having already won the Great Downtown Green War, there was only one battle left to fight.

According to the KCET story, Hollywood declared victory with an agreement permitting film crews to park those trucks on our beloved bike lanes. And nothing in that article suggested that it was limited to Spring and Main, implying that film crews could now park anywhere they damn well pleased, on any bike lane in the city.

And that, my friends, is when my head exploded.

For a change, though, I didn’t go ballistic. Instead I reached out to the people who should actually know what was really going on before going off on here. And used all my self control not to go off on them, either.

First to respond — in a matter of just minutes, in fact — was LADOT Bicycle Coordinator Michelle Mowery, who assured me that permits would still be required to block any traffic lane, bike or otherwise. And that lane closures for film shoots should be limited to the minimal amount required for actual shooting, and not simply to provide parking for cast and crew.

I could feel my blood pressure dropping already.

A few hours later, I got a response from Paul Audley himself, who said the article got it wrong.

Dear Ted,
The article headline is incorrect.
The DOT is allowing film vehicles in the parking lane next to the bike lanes.
Nobody wants to injure bikers!  🙂

Good to know. Although my own experience on the roads might suggest that at least some L.A. drivers might disagree with that last line.

Personally, though, as nice as they were, I don’t really give a damn whether the bike lanes are green, blue, black or pink. As long as they’re clear from obstructions and safe to ride.

But the problem is, a blocked bike lane is worse than no lane at all. Because drivers will expect you to ride in it regardless of whether or not it’s actually ridable. And aren’t likely to give you an inch if you dare to venture outside the lines.

So if Hollywood needs to change the color scheme, be my guest.

Just don’t park your trucks where they block our bike lanes.

And that goes for your little orange cones, too.


  1. Carter R says:

    I believe Shoup’s comment about parking in downtown LA, is that there are more parking spaces per acre there than any other *downtown*.

  2. Psy says:

    I work in VFX – ANY color can be removed in post production, and yes, even this particular shade of green. And really, it’s not that difficult. Sure, they lost their “anytown” street, but they have plenty of backlot space to build whatever replica they need. And hey, green lanes in films is a good idea, if you ask me – lets show more movies set in towns where cycling is advocated!

    It also seems as though the residents much prefer the bike lanes being there as opposed to constantly having their street blocked by filmmakers. But hey, now they get the best of both worlds *sarcasm*!


  3. Fred Olliger says:

    A few things:

    1. A few multi-level and underground parking garages can park more cars per acre than actually paving over an entire acre.

    2. The reason that people block bicycle lanes (in San Diego, some people SLEEP in the middle of bicyle paths) shows has harmless cyclists are viewed in the real world.

    This is contrasted to how “threatened” people say that they feel in meetings by “scofflaw cyclists” who wage their “war on automobiles”. So they can’t have it both ways.

    I prefer to think that cycling is more harmless than any other mode besides walking which is a HUGE reason of why I still do it.

    Anyway, I thought that this discrepency should be pointed out. Either cyclists are super-powerful and dangerous, in which case everyone should bow down to us or we are harmless which in case everyone should get out of our grill for all the problems that we cause.

    I’m OK w/ either one.

  4. Erik G. says:

    The answer is Copenhagen-style cycletracks!

  5. […] truth is, as Ted Rogers explained in his post “Green bike lanes aren’t worth a damn if they’re blocked by Hollywood production trucks“: “[I]t didn’t take long for the bike-hating LA Weekly to ferret out the reason […]

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