After Hollywood outcry, Spring Street bike lanes lose some paint

Film crews work on the show "Ringer" as cyclists, cars and buses pass in the green bike lane in the 400 block Spring Street last year. City officials approved a plan Wednesday that would replace the bright color with a forest green that is less visible on film.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

The film industry and the Los Angeles bicycling community reached a compromise Wednesday on the future of a controversial, bright green bike lane in downtown Los Angeles.

Under a motion passed by the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday, what is currently a vivid ribbon of color will be scraped off and replaced with less paint in a more muted shade.

The design, which would be experimental, must still be approved by the state.

“Downtown Los Angeles is undergoing a transformation,” said Councilman Jose Huizar, who proposed the action. “This reflects the future.”


When the 1.5-mile lane was painted in 2011, bicycle advocates hailed it as a important step for cycling safety and infrastructure in a city where non-car transportation lags behind other major metropolitan areas.

But the film industry was less pleased. Location scouts commonly choose Spring Street to stand in for other cities, including New York and Chicago, and they said the lane’s fluorescent green bounced off everything under bright filming lights, including actors’ faces.

The issue arose again this spring when the paint began to fade. Huizar asked the council to approve a repainting. But representatives from Hollywood, including the Screen Actors Guild, and Teamsters Local 399 urged the council to remove the bike lanes.

Huizar’s office held multiple meetings with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and film industry representatives to negotiate a compromise.

Under the new plan, the Spring Street bike lane will lose 80% to 90% of its paint. A 4-inch stripe of forest green would flank the inside of the white lane markers, with the rest of the lane unpainted. The lanes would remain fully painted in areas where vehicles frequently cut into the bike lane.

The bicycle coalition said the loss of the paint, and the change of color, is a step backward for safety in an area where the number of bicyclists is growing. A coalition survey in 2012 said the number of bicycles along Spring Street went up by half after the buffered lanes were installed.

“The brighter it is, the better,” said Dennis Hindman of Toluca Lake. “The brighter it is, the safer you feel.”

New York City also uses forest green paint in its bike lanes, Huizar spokesman Rick Coca said, so the film industry will find that the lanes now look more authentic.


Forest green is one in a spectrum of colors the federal government has approved for bike lanes.


Toning down the green of the Spring Street bike lane

L.A. City Council and film industry again clash over green bike lanes


Location scouts upset again over green bike lane in downtown L.A.

Twitter: @laura_nelson