Pedestrians cross at their own risk on stretch of Lake Mead Boulevard


How safe are pedestrian crosswalks marked by those bright yellow reflective signs? Do the signs effectively warn drivers to be mindful of pedestrians who might be waiting to cross at these walkways? What happens if cars have to suddenly hit the brakes after sailing along, often at speeds greater than the posted mph limit? Would you feel safe attempting to cross in some of those areas?

How about this case in point: Would you dare cross at any of the five designated walkways along the two-mile stretch of Lake Mead Boulevard from Anasazi Drive to Rampart Boulevard?

Before you answer that question, try standing along the sidewalk watching cars speed by in that area, where the posted speed limit is 45 but where more often than not vehicles are traveling well in excess of that limit. Adding to the equation is the fact that Lake Mead Boulevard bends along a hill at one point.

And how's this for comforting the frazzled pedestrian: Compounding the potential for danger is one location along the Lake Mead Boulevard hill where the yellow reflective sign advises motorists of a walkway ahead, but atop the same reflective sign ---- in fact attached to the same pole ---- is another sign that advises motorists they're in a 45 mph speed zone.

Of course crossings on Lake Mead Boulevard should not be singled out as more or less treacherous for pedestrians than any of the many other streets in Summerlin, and for that matter in the entire Las Vegas Valley, where hundreds of these bright yellow signs attempt to placate any fears of crossing.

Ever since three small children were hit by a car ---- and one was killed ---- while attempting to cross a street in North Las Vegas last October, the question of pedestrian safety has been examined, re-examined, then examined some more by every dimension of media throughout Southern Nevada. And for good reason.

Adding to the mix, since October there has been a strange touch of irony in the form of a rash of pedestrian fatalities.

Still, we posed the questions at the top of this column to Ward 4 Las Vegas City Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Stavros Anthony. In case you didn't know it, Anthony is an expert on the subject of pedestrian safety. For the longest time, day-to-day dealing with traffic safety was his livelihood. Prior to running for his seat on the City Council, Anthony held the rank of captain and served as commander of the Transportation Safety Bureau within the Metropolitan Police Department.

"When it comes to pedestrian safety, we always relied on the three E's to guide us ---- enforcement, education and engineering," Anthony said.

Needless to say, enforcement of speed limits, safe driving habits and other fundamental traffic rules go hand-in-hand with pedestrian and motorist education on how best to cross heavily traveled areas.

But Anthony places a heavy emphasis on traffic engineering, and when asked about the safety of the crosswalks along Lake Mead Boulevard irrespective of the yellow reflective signs, he promised to have the two-mile stretch of roadway checked out by an engineer.

He also was thinking of the day when prospective homebuyers begin looking for new houses again, and developers will be ready to oblige.

"Eventually we'll see many new homes going up west of the 215 Beltway," he said. "That will mean more traffic and more pedestrians along Lake Mead Boulevard."

City traffic engineer O.C. White Jr., in replying to Anthony's request, says in his report, "Traffic volumes range from 8,000 to 20,000 trips per day" along the two-mile section of Lake Mead Boulevard. The report also says that visibility is good from both the pedestrian and driver points of view.

But the report also adds, "The one area of concern is the vehicle speeds along Lake Mead Boulevard, which we will address with Metro by requesting them to monitor the study area."

It should be noted that there were bright yellow signs to warn drivers in advance of the North Las Vegas crosswalk where the three young girls were hit by a car in October.

It should also be noted that engineers had visited the site shortly before the accident and found that it met the state's standards.

Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. His newest novel, "All For Nothing," is now available. Contact him at hjaffe@cox.net.

 

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