LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Tourists view the 15 pedestrian bridges towering over Las Vegas Boulevard as the perfect vantage point to get the perfect shot of the Las Vegas Strip. Law enforcement, instead, views them as safety concerns when not enough people are flowing in the walkway.
They began rising in the mid-90s to keep vehicle traffic flowing underneath them. Now, law enforcement wants the foot traffic up there to remain flowing too.
A new ordinance, introduced to the Clark County Commission on Tuesday, would establish “pedestrian flow zones” both on the bridges and within 20 feet of adjoining escalators, stairs, and elevators if approved. These defined areas would make it “unlawful for any person to stop, stand, or engage in an activity that causes another person to stop or stand,” according to the ordinance’s language.
Analyses by UNLV Criminal Justice Professor William H. Sousa are cited within, showing a 23% increase in disorderly calls for service on Las Vegas Boulevard from 2018 to 2022. 11% of those calls were on these bridges, he reports, despite them representing only 6% of total available sidewalk space along the resort corridor.
The analyses additionally show a 1,700% increase in calls for disorderly unhoused individuals on the bridge within the same time frame: 56 calls in 2018 to 1,031 calls in 2022.
While law enforcement is concerned about increased safety risks, promoters and performers are concerned about losing an audience. “Jone”, as he asked to be called, is a venue promoter who picks a spot along one of the bridges five days a week and hands out flyers to the show paying him to be there.
“It’s not good for me because I (could) lose my hours. I can’t do what I do every day,” Jone said Tuesday, referencing the proposed ordinance while working on top of a bridge over Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana.
Artists, like Verlincia Prince, also believe the new rule would push promoters and street performers further into the shadow. As a tourist from Texas, she also says it may swindle visitors out of the popular tourist selfie above the Las Vegas Strip.
“You build them with the clear windows. What is the point of it?” Prince said while on top of a bridge over the boulevard and Park Avenue Tuesday. “You need to be seen. You need to be out there. You need to be able to show people what it is that you do, because all publicity is great.”
The first public hearing for the introduced ordinance is scheduled for the next Clark County Commission meeting on December 5. If approved, it would amend Title 16 of the Clark County Code.