Expert: Reduce Vegas pedestrian deaths by reducing speed limits

A traffic safety expert is calling on Clark County and local municipalities to reduce the speed limit on some Southern Nevada streets as a means to make pedestrians and bicyclists safer.

Erin Breen, director of UNLV’s Vulnerable Road Users Project, suggested that reducing speed limits is an important strategy for local governments to consider to reduce the number of injuries and fatal accidents in Southern Nevada.

Breen was among the speakers at a collaborative event Thursday that was a show of solidarity among local government and transportation leaders to develop strategies to make streets safer.

In the first two months of 2015, 12 people have died in car-pedestrian accidents in Clark County. That’s three times more than in the same time frame in 2014.

Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen accepted a yearlong challenge issued by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to develop safer streets for pedestrians and bicyclists — a challenge that was immediately answered and embraced by Las Vegas Mayor Pro Tem Stavros Anthony and Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown, who also serves as chairman of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada.

Between the Nevada Transportation Department, the Regional Transportation Commission and Southern Nevada’s municipalities, an estimated $90 million will be spent on street improvement projects, traffic enforcement and advertising messaging to remind motorists and pedestrians of their responsibilities on the road.

In addition to the municipalities and transportation officials, representatives of the Nevada Highway Patrol, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Clark County School District Police Department and UNLV’s Vulnerable Road Users Project attended the event at Henderson’s Proctor Judicial Park.

The park is on Henderson’s Water Street, an example of “complete street” road design with wider sidewalks, bike lanes, median islands, curb extensions, crosswalks and narrower lanes that force motorists to travel at reduced speeds.

Each government entity is contributing to the safety campaign:

■ The Regional Transportation Commission is investing $7.9 million through 2016 in bus shelter improvements. Under the program, 550 new shelters will be installed and many existing shelters will be moved to at least 5 feet from the curb.

■ Clark County will spend $22 million on improvement projects that will include pedestrian bridges, signals, bus turnouts, bike lanes and traffic signal installations.

■ The cities of Las Vegas and Henderson are spending $44.5 million and $15.5 million, respectively, for a series of improvements on their downtown streets. Main Street in Las Vegas is under­going a “complete streets” makeover.

■ All entities will step up their “Zero Fatalities” campaign to remind pedestrians and motorists to follow the rules of the road. Ads will be published and radio spots will emphasize that “Too many pedestrians die on our roads. Look out for each other.” The ads show a line of coffins to emphasize the point.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Find him on Twitter: @RickVelotta.

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