Colored crosswalks? Great idea! Except they're illegal


The long arm of the law has a massive reach. We all know that.

This is good for most of us, most of the time. We’re law-abiding folks, you and I. We appreciate the cops doing their thing, the engineers designing safe roads, coming up with new ideas for even safer roads.

There’s always a but, though, isn’t there?

Like, what if there were a good idea but the rules said you couldn’t use it?

Or what if there were perfectly fine laws that weren’t enforced?

That right there is anarchy. We don’t like anarchy. It would lead to all sorts of unpleasant things. Unregulated tapas restaurants, for example. Or worse: chaos on the roads.

Dun dun dunnnnnn.

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All this comes to mind because of Lorene.

She wrote in with an idea: Let’s paint the crosswalks a different color. She said she’s seen them painted orange or yellow elsewhere.

They’re all white here, and they get filthy and turn gray because of the tires that constantly roll over them.

I ran the idea by the city of Las Vegas, and it was shot down, of course. The feds won’t allow it.

According to the traffic bible, a thick document called the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, crosswalks have to be white.

This manual is put out by the Federal Highway Administration. It’s been around for almost 80 years, and it’s updated all the time. States must follow its guidelines.

A few states, such as California, have adopted their own manual. Federal law says that’s OK, as long as the rules in it are almost identical to the federal ones.

This is why if you learn to drive in Las Vegas you can move to Oklahoma and the rules are pretty much the same. A stop sign is red. Green lights mean go. Construction cones are orange.

But it also means that you can’t paint your crosswalks with glittery fuchsia paint, which might go a long way to solving the problem we have here wherein people keep getting hit by cars and killed.

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Twice this week, readers wrote in to complain about drivers making U-turns at red lights.

Huh?

These readers said that they’ve seen drivers at red left-turn arrows apparently get tired of waiting and just make a U-turn, despite the light. “Is this something new or are these driver’s just idiots?” Charlie asked.

They’re idiots, Charlie. That’s just not allowed.

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Speaking of idiots: Remind your friends that they’re not allowed to cross the double white lines governing the express lanes on Interstate 15. Apparently, this one’s not catching on.

I asked the Nevada Highway Patrol a few weeks ago about this problem. Troopers were being lenient, at first, allowing drivers to get used to them before writing tickets.

But trooper Loy Hixson said they were going to start enforcing the law now and writing $190 tickets. Excellent.

Except I’m still getting lots of complaints about it. The other day, I was behind a trooper on I-15 in moderate traffic. A big sport utility vehicle in the express lanes between Flamingo Road and Tropicana Avenue crossed over the double white line and squeezed between my car and the trooper’s.

Cool, I thought. Go get ’em, trooper.

But nothing happened. The trooper had to see it. There was no way he missed it. But he just kept on driving, as did the offender.

Not cool, man. That’s anarchy. What’s next? Salmonella-sicles at your local convenience store?

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Joyce wants a little more order out in Henderson. “Quite a few years ago I heard that Maryland Parkway was planned to cross St. Rose Parkway and then wind around the Henderson Airport and connecting with Volunteer Boulevard,” she wrote. “Any new info on this? This certainly would take a lot of traffic off South Eastern in the Anthem area.”

That’s the other thing about avoiding anarchy: It costs money.

The city of Henderson has long had this plan in the pipeline. There are only a couple of ways into the Anthem area. The main one is Eastern Avenue. Anyone who’s ever driven on Eastern down that way knows what a mess it is. Traffic is always backed up, sometimes so bad the backup bleeds onto the freeway.

Kathy Blaha, a city spokeswoman, explained that the project is on the city’s master Streets and Highways Plan.

“Right now, we don’t have funding for the project,” she wrote in an email.

So it’ll have to remain a goal, for now. Just like getting the cops to enforce the rules on the express lanes.

Got a transportation question, comment or gripe? Ship it off to roadwarrior @reviewjournal.com. Follow the Road Warrior on Twitter @RJroadwarrior.