Time change creates challenges for pedestrians in Las Vegas Valley

Like many of you, the Road Warrior enjoys taking a stroll through his neighborhood during this much-welcomed cooler fall weather.

Now that daylight saving time is over and darkness descends earlier across the valley, we need to do our part as walkers and bicyclists to stay safe and be seen on the streets.

That means attaching strips of retro-reflective tape on clothing, allowing you to shine as bright as the sun as headlights approach. The material, made up of a series of glass beads, is used on traffic signals and can be purchased online or at sporting goods stores.

“The material allows you to be seen up to 700 feet, which gives drivers enough time to react,” said Erin Breen, head of the Vulnerable Road Users Project at UNLV.

A string of blinking LED lights, also available at sporting goods stores, works just as well, Breen said.

The number of pedestrian deaths in Clark County is expected to reach an all-time high by the end of this year, but Breen suggested a few tips that might help walkers and motorists peacefully coexist on the road.

Pedestrians should walk facing traffic, look both ways before crossing the street, use marked crosswalks and watch for turning cars. Stay alert and avoid distractions by keeping cellphones in your pocket.

Drivers can also do their part by slowing down and watching for walkers while turning. Pedestrians always have the right of way, even if you have a green light.

“A lot of pedestrians tend to forget that drivers can’t see them if they’re wearing muted, dark colors because you blend into the pavement,” Breen said. “Being seen is important to staying safe.”

Old plates

Janet from Las Vegas said she was mailed a new set of license plates earlier this year shortly after renewing the registration for her 2005 Toyota Prius. She said she was advised by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles to toss out the old set of plates.

“Being told to simply throw away the old plates seems wasteful and dangerous,” Janet wrote in an email to the Road Warrior. “What if my plates appear on another vehicle that was in an accident or involved with some type of crime?”

You were given some bad instructions. Old license plates should never be thrown in the trash, DMV spokesman Kevin Malone said. You should drop them off at a DMV office for disposal.

“We encourage our customers to recycle them with us to ensure proper disposal unless the original owner wishes to keep them,” Malone said.

The Legislature approved a bill two years ago that requires all license plates to be reissued after eight years to ensure that they are in good condition. License plates usually wear out after five to 10 years, creating a public safety problem when they can’t be read by authorities.

Busy offramp

Ric from Las Vegas wanted to know whether the Nevada Department of Transportation plans to install a traffic light at the southbound Decatur Boulevard offramp from southbound U.S. Highway 95 near downtown.

“The current stop sign creates a dangerous backup onto the highway,” Ric said.

Unfortunately, there are no plans to do this.

NDOT spokesman Tony Illia said that there is too much traffic along Decatur for there to be a signal for the offramp and that installing one could actually create even more traffic in this area.

However, the agency is examining several other options that would safely improve traffic flows.

Timing is OK

Jack from Summerlin believes the traffic signals are poorly timed at Lake Mead Boulevard and Scholar Lane/Harbor Island Drive. The signal appears to favor Scholar/Harbor Island, creating an “unnecessarily long” wait for drivers traveling on the busier Lake Mead.

Believe it or not, Jack, this signal runs on a coordinated system that allocates most of the “green” time to Lake Mead, Las Vegas city spokeswoman Margaret Kurtz said. Your letter prompted the city’s traffic engineers to study this intersection, and they didn’t see any evidence of a long wait for drivers on Lake Mead.

Turning right

Joshua from Las Vegas noticed that a set of bicycle lanes on Torrey Pines Drive at Lone Mountain and Ann roads had been repainted without a designated area for right turns.

“Can you still cross over the bike lane to get out of traffic to turn right?” Joshua asked.

Motorists must cautiously merge into the bike lane to make a right turn, Kurtz said.

“It is not against the law to cross the white lines if you are coming to a stop or slowing down to make a right turn,” she said.

Questions and comments should be sent to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Please include your phone number. Follow @RJroadwarrior on Twitter.

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