EDITORIAL: Banning private cars on the Strip is regulatory overkill

With the advent of self-driving vehicles, some futurists envision a time when drivers are legislated off the roads under the guise of improving safety. County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani now proposes her own local pilot project in that regard.

The Review-Journal’s Art Marroquin reported Monday that Ms. Giunchigliani, who is seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, is suggesting that private vehicles be banned from large parts of the Strip. Instead, only buses, taxis and ridesharing vehicles would be allowed access to Las Vegas Boulevard roughly between Mandalay Bay in the south and the Stratosphere to the north.

The idea, she says, is to protect pedestrians, reduce traffic and make it easier for police and emergency workers to move up and down the roadway, which is often bumper-to-bumper. She proposes that the Regional Transportation Commission examine the ban as part of an upcoming study regarding transit options to link McCarran International Airport, the Strip and downtown.

“We really need to look at how you move someone much more safely, especially given what happened with the shooting,” Ms. Giunchigliani said, “because we have difficulty getting emergency vehicles through.”

The commissioner no doubt means well. But such a drastic step is overkill and would have significant ramifications for traffic throughout the area, including on major arterials near the Strip. Is this type of massive disruption really worth some minor safety gains?

Permanently outlawing private vehicles from the Strip would without question inconvenience a great many locals as well as tourists in return for illusory gains. It would also threaten to transform for the worse the vibrant energy and atmosphere — the hustle and bustle — that makes the Strip one of the world’s most popular tourist draws. The congestion and the assault on the senses are hardly unintentional.

“I want to make sure we look at all angles,” Ms. Giunchigliani said. “Regardless of whether people agree with the idea or not, we should have a conversation to see what’s working and if there are better ways to move people.”

Fair enough. But prohibiting locals and tourists from driving a 4.5-mile stretch of the Strip amounts to regulatory overreach and a solution in search of a problem.

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