Las Vegas Valley pedestrians, drivers need to slow down, pay attention

Walkability is something Las Vegas struggles with. Between the million valley residents and 3 million monthly visitors, it’s a tug-of-war to keep traffic efficient for vehicles and safe for pedestrians.

Sometimes it seems like a losing battle. This year, more than 35 pedestrians have been struck by cars and killed in the valley.

But the cities fight back. Last week, Las Vegas officials lowered the speed limit on Martin Luther King Boulevard to improve safety for pedestrians.

The Nevada Department of Transportation is working to support pedestrian safety as well. We found that out when Jay wrote in, curious about plans for Blue Diamond Road following several recent accidents there.

“We can’t put (up) traffic lights and crosswalks overnight or may not even need them. Let’s just take the speed limit down 10 mph … it seems drivers need more reaction time to those intersections.”

We asked department spokesman Damon Hodge about this area and he said the department has already requested studies of two intersections — Blue Diamond and Cimarron roads, and Blue Diamond and Durango Drive.

The study will survey volume, pedestrian use, crashes and proximity to different key locations. The results of the survey will show the best possibilities for the intersection, like a traffic signal or striping.

“The studies usually take up to four months, but this one is being expedited,” Hodge said.

Expedited road work is a novel concept — hopefully it sticks.

The improvements to Kyle Canyon Road, or state Route 157, on the way up to Mount Charleston are slated to take quite a bit longer. Pam wondered what kind of delays the project is causing.

“Would it be faster to take Lee Canyon Road right now? The construction doesn’t annoy me, I understand it will benefit us. But the traffic during construction is always a headache.”

Well, for starters, there are about 400 residents living up there. It’s also getting later in the year, which means cold weather and snow. School will be out for the holidays, leaving families looking for things to do over break — think sledding, hot chocolate at the lodge, all that jazz.

So potentially, there could be a lot of traffic. Hodge, however, said that so far traffic issues have been minimal.

There is a section near where Kyle Canyon Road intersects with U.S. Highway 95 that is currently reduced to one lane. I had a hard time getting information on how it was going, so I took the drive and Hodge was right — minimal traffic.

After passing a sign that boasted a 15-minute maximum wait time, cars were stopped until there were 15 or 20 in a group, and then a pilot car led them through the construction, machinery and dust. Closer to five minutes than 15.

So Kyle Canyon is still a viable option, Pam. They have what appeared to be a pretty organized operation.

And we have a fun fact to end with today, brought to light by reader Tony.

“Several family members have a friendly game of spotting new license plates … just curious what will happen when the current format, three numbers-three letters, runs out.”

Tony observed the three-letter license plate combination starting with “L” is rarely, or never, seen. He also noted that the license plates seem to be near the end of the alphabet.

“Oh yeah, they’re definitely running out,” Kevin Malone, spokesman with the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, said.

Malone explained that once the DMV gets to the end of the alphabet, the first thing they’ll do is print the “L” combination, which got skipped during the switch from the big horn sheep license plate in 2001 to the current sunset plate.

Then they’ll start a new pattern at the beginning of the alphabet. Instead of three numbers-three letters (ex: 111AAA), it will be two numbers-one letter-three numbers (ex: 11A111).

But, the DMV is careful of letter combinations.

Malone said the DMV does indeed skip over awkward combinations like SEX. He mentioned an “oops” moment by North Carolina’s DMV several years back when more than 10,000 license plates were printed with WTF and had to be replaced.

There’s always a lesson to be learned, I guess.

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