Published Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012 | 4:05 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012 | 5:20 p.m.
A long-awaited study of pedestrian traffic on the Las Vegas Strip shows 17 bottlenecks in front of some of the most well-known casinos on Las Vegas Boulevard.
Released Wednesday, the study was ordered last spring as part of a long-term campaign to “clean up” the Strip, which Clark County commissioners have characterized as becoming chaotic in recent years.
The area of highest pedestrian traffic detailed in the study occurred on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, around 9:30 p.m., when 2,633 people were counted over a 15-minute period. “This location was categorized as having an unacceptable ‘level of service,’” said a county summary.
The study also talked frequently about “non-permanent” obstructions, which could mean street performers. Or it could mean employees of outcalls services, who stand for hours trying to get tourists to take one of their “girls direct to your room” cards.
Due to the cards littering the sidewalks, commissioners months ago enacted an ordinance that requires the card-slappers to pick up cards that tourists toss onto the sidewalk.
But if this new study shows outcall service employees or street performers are creating bottlenecks, it could lead to an ordinance forcing them either to be limited in number or to be more spaced out along the Strip. Or, as the study suggests numerous times, the county might simply have to depend more on a “non-obstructive use” ordinance already on the books.
Commissioner Steve Sisolak, who spearheaded formation of a committee last year that looked into Strip problems, said he didn’t know “how the location of the card-slappers or street performers will fit into the analysis of where the choke points exist.
“This will hopefully just give us a roadmap to determine the best way to deal with those choke points,” he said, adding that those points are a safety concern because pedestrians will often walk onto busy Las Vegas Boulevard to move past them.
Pointing to 17 problem areas, the study not only talks about permanent obstructions, such as fire hydrants, massive traffic controller boxes and casino landscaping, but several times authors of the study recommend enforcing a “non-obstructive use ordinance.”
The county adopted a non-obstructive use ordinance in 1994. One of 32 recommendations of the Strip study committee was to update that ordinance.
At one location identified as the Casino Royale Driveway, for instance, the study includes a picture of an outcall-service employee and says “non-permanent obstructions were prevalent in this area averaging as many as eight.”
The roughly 200-page study by Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. makes similar recommendations in many other locations, including:
• In front of Harrah’s hotel/casino, where the study says nonpermanent obstructions were “averaging as many as 15.”
• Near Caesars Palace.
• In front of Margaritaville, where nonpermanent obstructions averaged “as many as 10.”
• At the north end of Planet Hollywood, where the same kind of obstructions also averaged “as many as 10.”
County Manager Don Burnette, who put together the committee of casino representatives and county staff last year, said “time, place and manner restrictions” may be considered later.
“But right now we have to better understand the data and identify those things we can improve first beforehand,” he added. “One thing for sure, we’ve definitely got a problem.”
Clark County tends to be overly cautious when talking about restricting any form of sidewalk activity because much of it is protected under the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech.
Some other information from the study:
• Data were gathered Fridays through Sundays, mostly between 3 p.m. and midnight.
• “It involved observing more than 4.8 million pedestrians at 38 locations along both sides of the 4-mile stretch of the Las Vegas Strip,” according to a county summary. “Researchers collected 2,770 hours of pedestrian data that is the equivalent of 3¾ months worth of observation of pedestrian activity.”
After the Resort Corridor Working group met and developed a list of areas for Strip improvement, county commissioners so far have approved ordinances to limit pets on the Strip; to forbid peddling on Strip rights-of-way, which include sidewalks; and requiring men and women who hand out fliers to pick up discarded fliers within 25 feet of where they stand.