Innovative Proposals for Ensuring Pedestrian Safety on the Las Vegas Strip

As an individual residing in Las Vegas, I often find myself pondering whether I overlooked my true vocation as a traffic engineer. The city undoubtedly presents numerous transportation predicaments that catch my attention. However, amongst the plethora of concerns, the most crucial one appears to be along the vibrant stretch known as the Las Vegas Strip. It has come to my attention that there are suggestions floating about proposing the complete closure of this iconic thoroughfare to vehicular traffic. Curiously enough, just last month, I took it upon myself to pen an article detailing the sheer absurdity of such a notion.

During our recent stay at Planet Hollywood, my friend Kristina and I had a fantastic time. However, we couldn't help but notice that the sidewalks surrounding the hotel posed quite a challenge. They were like an obstacle course, filled with various obstacles that made walking a bit difficult. Aside from the typical annoyances one might encounter, what caught my attention were the numerous pedestrian crossings that urgently required some attention and maintenance.

Bellagio pedestrian signals challenge conventional wisdom at crosswalks.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps

The design of the Bellagio intersection on Las Vegas Blvd was not well-executed. It would have been better if its entrance had been properly aligned with Paris. However, we have no choice but to make the most of the existing situation.

At the same time, the predicament arises at the point where the issue lies. There exists a situation when traffic is making a left turn from Bellagio when the traffic signal turns green, and concurrently, the crosswalk signal on Las Vegas Blvd also turns green, granting pedestrians the right of way. However, during this very moment, there is a green arrow signal for vehicles making a right turn from Bellagio onto the southbound lane of the Las Vegas Strip. And it is in this conjunction that the dilemma manifests itself.

Walking across this particular intersection can be quite tricky. As pedestrians make their way, they find themselves trapped in a narrow space formed by the merging right and left turn lanes. It's a challenging situation, given that there isn't enough room for everyone. What's even more concerning is that some pedestrians fail to notice the "don't walk" signal on the right turn island, as it is accompanied by a green arrow. It's alarming how often I witness close calls when pedestrians unexpectedly step in front of cars that have the right of way due to the green light.

As I stand on the sidewalk, observing the bustling street before me, I notice a common mistake made by pedestrians. It is quite perplexing, really. You see, if a pedestrian chooses to cross the road from the Cosmopolitan side, they unwittingly put themselves at risk. The reason being, an oncoming driver cannot spot them until they maneuver around the bend. It is an unfortunate circumstance, exacerbated by the numerous errors made by pedestrians in this particular area.

If we were to make a simple adjustment to the traffic signal at the intersection near Bellagio, we could potentially solve a problem that has been fooling unsuspecting pedestrians. Currently, the right turn arrow remains green during both the green light for exiting Bellagio and the green arrow for northbound traffic on Las Vegas Blvd turning onto Bellagio. However, this creates an unnecessary delay for southbound Bellagio traffic, causing breaks in the flow that deceive pedestrians. To rectify this, we could modify the signal so that the right turn arrow is only green when the left arrow into Bellagio from northbound Las Vegas Blvd is also green, and not when the crosswalk is green while traffic is exiting Bellagio to the left. This simple adjustment would undoubtedly resolve the problem and enhance the overall safety of the intersection.

The splendid Paris Las Vegas lies on the iconic Las Vegas Blvd.

Until then, I have come up with a brilliant idea to address the problem with this horrendous intersection design. It desperately needs some improvements, and I believe I've found the perfect solution. Instead of enduring the chaos caused by the existing median between the Paris and Bellagio signals, why not remove it altogether? By doing so, we can synchronize the signals with Bellagio, allowing both exiting traffic to make their left turns simultaneously. Of course, this proposal comes with its own set of challenges. We would need to construct a pedestrian bridge to ensure the safety of pedestrians crossing the intersection. However, despite the potential hurdles, I believe this plan holds great promise in making this intersection much more efficient and safer for everyone involved.

The issue at hand is the conflict between the left-turning vehicles coming out of Paris and Bellagio. When the left-turn signal in Paris comes to an end, a brief green light is needed for the northbound traffic so that the cars exiting Bellagio can clear the intersection. This interval typically lasts for about 12-15 seconds. Unfortunately, this duration falls short for pedestrians to safely cross with a walk signal.

As I observe the scene, I notice pedestrians gathering on the sidewalk, perplexed by their inability to cross the road due to the illuminated "don't walk" signal. After approximately 10 seconds, a sense of resignation starts to settle in, compelling some individuals to take matters into their own hands and venture across the bustling Paris entrance, under the assumption that the walk signal must be malfunctioning. Just as this daring act unfolds, the traffic light governing the northbound lane transitions to red, granting priority to the left turn arrow directing vehicles into Paris. Consequently, a daunting situation arises as three lanes of oncoming traffic converge towards the unsuspecting pedestrians, who find themselves in a perilous predicament.

In order to address this issue, a potential solution would be to implement two equally timed green cycles for the northbound side. This would enable the turn arrow to operate within the middle of the cycles, providing a dedicated time for pedestrians to cross the road. Moreover, this approach eliminates any confusion that may arise from pedestrians mistakenly assuming that the walk signal is malfunctioning, leading them to cross the road simultaneously with cars receiving a green arrow to enter the crosswalk.

The section of Flamingo Road stretching from Bally's to Cromwell

Among the crosswalks I've discussed, this particular one is seldom used by pedestrians. Surprisingly, it poses the greatest risk to their safety. It appears that an ill-advised decision was made by a traffic engineer to position a crosswalk signal right in the middle of two exits, where vehicles are only allowed to turn right. As drivers emerge from Bally's and Cromwell onto Flamingo Road, they instinctively glance to their left in preparation for a right turn. Without fail, almost every time I traverse this crosswalk, I witness a vehicle carelessly disregarding the red light and zooming through.

Before the signal was installed, I have a hunch that jaywalking was quite prevalent in this area. However, it appears that the most economical solution prevailed. To address this issue, it would be advisable to relocate the crosswalk approximately 100 feet closer to Las Vegas Blvd, along with reconstructing the sidewalk ramp on the Cromwell side. By doing so, we can prevent cars from making an immediate right turn into the crosswalk.