Happy May Day! For architecture and design buffs in the historic downtown area, today marks the beginning of Historic Preservation and Archaeology Awareness Month. For my SO/personal home gardener, it begins the SNWA’s four-month restriction on watering in response to yet another dry summer. For me, though, May is National Bike Month — well, for me and the League of American Bicyclists, that is.
This year, Las Vegas Cyclery, the Las Vegas Bicycle Club and the Regional Transportation Commission teamed up to produce a special local edition of the awareness campaign. Dubbed Bike Month Las Vegas, it starts with a costumed Elvis ride around First Friday, ends with a Pure Fix bike raffle and includes local group rides and other fun stuff all along the way.
The RTC has been pushing Bike Month for years in its attempts to induce more two-wheeling in our car-congested valley — with special attention to commuting (Bike to Work Week falls May 12-18 this year; Bike to School Day is May 7). And, as someone concerned about CO2 and climate change, I say, more power to them!
But there’s a missing link in the Las Vegas-Bike Month-bike commuting chain, and that’s infrastructure. Lisa Caterbone, founder of BikingLasVegas.com, sums it up this way: “The most common obstacle to biking to work here is infrastructure. The City of Henderson did a really good job with theirs. Instead of sidewalks, they have multiuse paths to connect all the different areas. You can basically get from the M Casino to the River Mountains Loop Trail on these paths.” On the other hand, Caterbone says, the City of Las Vegas has concentrated on recreational cycling. While there are abundant bike lanes and trails on the valley’s periphery, there are far too few safe, designated routes to and from the city’s core to facilitate functional rides.
She’s right. As I mentioned, I live downtown, and I’m a cycling enthusiast. I try to bike to work at least once a week, and now that I’m in an office off of West Oakey Boulevard, that’s doable. When I worked in the southwest valley, however, biking to work was either inconvenient — I’d have to go out of my way to get to and from the bike lane on Pecos — or terrifying: Industrial was the most direct, and most dangerous route. Even on Oakey, which has a wide shoulder, I still get the occasional honk that implies, “Get off the road!”
Like Caterbone, I’m grateful for local government’s investment in projects such as the recently completed Las Vegas Wash trail and the pending Vegas Valley Rim Trail. They’re great for family rides, working out and triathlon training. But they’re not helping those who want — or have no choice but — to ride to work. If we really want every day to be bike-to-work day, we’re going to have to provide safe routes for cyclists to take.
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