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Deyan Dimitrov November 24, 2023 3 min read
Las Vegas Considers Ordinance to Restrict Viewing Stops on Pedestrian Bridges
Tourists flocking to the iconic pedestrian bridges spanning the Las Vegas Strip may soon face misdemeanor charges if they pause to take in the view
A controversial new ordinance by the Clark County Commission seeks to solve the rising issue of pedestrian traffic jams on the city’s iconic walkways. Despite recent measures to improve traffic flow during the F1 Grand Prix, passersby stopping to sneak a peak at the race caused significant problems, motivating this newest proposal. However, this move faces substantial public scrutiny and may prove unlawful.
The F1 Grand Prix Highlighted Walkway Deficiencies
Las Vegas’ newest ordinance aims to establish “pedestrian flow zones” encompassing bridges and areas within 20 feet of adjoining escalators, stairs, and landings. Pedestrians within these zones would be prohibited from stopping, standing, or engaging in activities that impede movement or cause others to stop or stand, improving traffic across such chokepoints.
Clark County, the governing body of the Strip, justifies this move by emphasizing its interest in ensuring safe pedestrian access along the bustling Las Vegas. The proposal’s timing suggests a response to recent crowd behavior during events such as the F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix, which saw bridges packed with pedestrians trying to catch a glimpse and record the race.
To combat the issue of passersby clogging the pedestrian bridges, event organizers installed view blocks on several key junctions. However, these efforts proved unsuccessful as hopeful fans paused in search of a vantage point. Ironically, the crossings were constructed to alleviate pedestrian traffic, but recent data suggests they may be doing more harm than good.
Vegas Must Rethink Its Approach to Infrastructure
UNLV’s Department of Criminal Justice highlights that bridges were responsible for a significant percentage of disorderly behavior cases. These chokepoints also frequently face issues related to unhoused individuals, raising public safety concerns. The pedestrian bridge closest to the MSG Sphere has caused the most problems as pedestrians regularly pause to film the colossal external screen.
Despite Clark County’s ostensibly good intentions, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) raised concerns, noting the ordinance could violate the First Amendment’s right to assemble. While acknowledging its impact on free speech, the Vegas authorities contend that the surrounding sidewalks would leave ample space for such activities without restricting the affected flow zones.
An upcoming public hearing on 5 December will offer a platform for public input and potential revisions. Clark County has proven willing to acknowledge feedback and cooperate to find the best solution. However, the issue highlights Las Vegas’ intensifying infrastructure problems. While local authorities take frequent steps to alleviate car and pedestrian traffic issues, a long-term solution would likely require a complete overhaul of the current system.