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Las Vegas, One of the Worst Cities for Pedestrians
Las Vegas, One of the Worst Cities for Pedestrians

AIR DATE: November 15, 2011

A recent study came out showing the top ten worst metro areas for pedestrians.  Las Vegas was number six on the list.  Add to that the string of pedestrian deaths in the last few weeks, and Metro Police and others are trying to figure out how to keep roads safe.  Is Las Vegas poorly designed?  What plan can help pedestrians and drivers co-exist on the roads?
Sergeant Richard Strader, Las Vegas Metro
Alexander Paz, Assoc Prof, UNLV

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City neighborhoods are ill designed for pedestrians or cyclists. The biggest trouble, however, are the drivers. Even with crosswalks, bike lanes, crossing guards, speed limits, drivers simply don't care beyond their own world, which doesn't extend beyond the hood ornament of their car. We need to follow the example of Europe, with strict "no plea out" laws, enforcement, and a much more expensive license requirement. Overseas it can be as much as $1200 for a driver license. Here: $22. Way too easy for something that puts the lives of others in our hands.
Gayla CoughlinNov 15, 2011 10:12:38 AM
LV is a city designed for the automobile. We have numerous high speed arterial streets with a crosswalk every 1/2 mile. That is not a convenient way to travel by foot at all. If we are going to make the streets pedestrian friendly then a lot of engineering changes to roadways are going to need to be implemented.
Courtney Coughenour Nov 10, 2011 10:00:03 AM
As a crossing guard, I must say that many drivers do not pay attention to speed limits and school crosswalks. Many times, when I'm in the street with my sign up and my arm waving, the drivers seem to decide that they can go, if they can beat the children crossing. It's really scary. I have a construction cone I put up every morning to maybe get the drivers to slow down. I don't think it does much good.
Jan MillerNov 10, 2011 09:53:11 AM
Greetings: I'm a visitor to Las Vegas; attending a conference. I served 12 years as a county councilor in my community, Los Alamos New Mexico. In our community we apply results from studies down a Canada, a world leader in traffic and road research. One finding is that 85% of drivers go the speed limit for which the road is "perceived," unconsciously, to be safe. (The remainder were evenly split between too slow or too fast.) They found that, if a road is engineered for, let's say, 50 MPH, it doesn't matter is the speed limit is posted at 35 or 65 mph. 85% of the driver will go 50 MPH. Locals will learn about the "speed traps" but the problems are non-local drivers and surprises such as a suddenly curved roadway that is an ever tightening spiral. In Los Alamos, we've taken to using the design principles recommended by the Canadian studies. That is we design the roadway for the speed we want drivers to go and also with pedestrian and bicycle safety in mind. Ken Milder Former Los Alamos, New Mexico, county coucilor
Ken MilderNov 10, 2011 09:50:36 AM
I'm sort of following Tim Hunt's comments. After every crash, there will be someone on the radio or TV who will say that we should use the crosswalks. When pedestrians hear that, they seem to think that there's something magical about the painted lines on the crosswalk. Actually, those painted lines are no help. Even though crossing with a semaphore is better than no help at all, those aren't magical, either. Someone will run that red light that you think is protecting you. We need to stop teaching people that they can drive or walk according to the painted lines on streets or the colors on the lights.
Lois ChatfieldNov 10, 2011 09:40:57 AM
Just watch the people using the new crosswalks on Maryland in front of UNLV. Everyday I see pedestrians walking (and running) through the crosswalk without hitting the button that would turn on the flashing lights! Even the best designed crosswalk can be defeated by stupid people. At least the speed limit is only 30 mph so drivers have a chance to hit the brakes.
Careful DriverNov 10, 2011 09:37:34 AM
The Las Vegas City Engineer says the ADA does NOT require sidewalks in our urban core. Right now children and wheelchairs share the road over 2000 cars and trucks in what the Historic District calls one America's most livable neighborhoods, The John S Park. Furthermore, the City did not pass it plans through Historic Commission. And now CLV is picking and choosing whom gets a sidewalk and whom does not. Shame of City of Las Vegas for endangering the public when the children use those noisy polluting legs to get to and from school
Michael GansonNov 10, 2011 09:36:25 AM
The safer a person feels, the less attention they will pay to their safety. Thus, engineering safety features will yield lower improvements in safety than expected. If you can engineer safety while making the participants (drivers and pedestrians) feel the situation isn't overly safe, then accident rates will go down.
Craig SiefkasNov 10, 2011 09:32:37 AM
Pedestrians need to learn to look both ways before sauntering out into the street. Indeed, nearly every walker I see is totally oblivious to the motorized world around them. Even those that use crosswalks just nonchalantly walk into the street without checking to see if cars are actually stopping, having been propagandized by the police that all drivers will always stop at all crosswalks. Truly, common sense, personal responsibility and mothers teaching their kids basic survival skills will easily solve this problem.
Tim HuntNov 9, 2011 19:50:16 PM
I agree that pedestrians need to be smart about crossing streets, but the reality is that the mentality of LV drivers needs to change to one that is aware and accepting of pedestrians and bicyclists as road users. Such thinking seems to be absent in this city.
Courtney CoughenourNov 10, 2011 09:54:36 AM
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