Nobody Bikes in Las Vegas

That’s the traditional wisdom in our car-centric city. But it may be changing

Solar power and wind power have always made sense in Las Vegas. Lately, pedal power is making inroads, too.

In a month, cyclists will be the first segment of the public welcomed across the yet-to-be-opened Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge (a.k.a. the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge) during the Viva Bike Vegas Ride, on Oct. 9. That takes place a full week before the bridge is opened to pedestrians for a day on Oct. 16—and even that takes place before opening to motor traffic in early November.

More sightings of human-powered, healthy, eco-friendly transportation abound around town, and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada is behind some of them. For the past three years, RTC employees have had access to two electric bikes (which can be pedaled manually or powered by an electric motor), and use them to get around downtown. Jacob Snow, general manager of the RTC and an avid cyclist, uses the bikes a couple times a week to get to meetings at City Hall and other places that are close to the RTC’s downtown office.

“I think that we’re part of a growing group of organizations and individuals who see the value of another mode of transportation, especially in a climate where it’s very favorable to getting out and cycling most of the year,” Snow says. “It’s certainly, we think, an alternative mode of transportation that can and should be more effectively developed in everything that we do, and we’re looking for opportunities to do that. We’ve found a number of partners out in the community who really are embracing that approach.”

The RTC will soon get 25 more electric bikes that it will distribute to other public entities for employee use. The city of Las Vegas has signed on for the bike-share program, and will be getting four bikes from the RTC beginning in October. The RTC is also in talks with Clark County, the Southern Nevada Water District and the Southern Nevada Health District about starting similar programs.

“We feel like we’re providing incentives to people to get out there and do this, and we’re instructing people about how safe and how beneficial it can be if you do it in the right way,” says Snow, who often cycles 19 miles to work from his home in Henderson.

The RTC has also been focusing on making roads more bike-friendly. Street projects in the works include installing a number of bike lanes downtown.

In addition, the Bonneville Transit Center, which is scheduled to open next month, won’t just be a hub for buses. It will also have bike storage, bike rental, bike repair and even lockers and showers for bike commuters. Cyclists can bike to the transit center and then walk to their destination or hop on a bus.

But it’s not just the public sector that’s making the leap. For years, Red Rock hotel-casino’s Adventure Spa has offered bike trips to the Red Rock National Conservation Area, Bootleg Canyon and the River Mountain Trail at Lake Mead. More recently, Panorama Tower North, on Dean Martin Drive across from City Center, offered four electric bikes for its residents to use. Management says they will evaluate residents’ use of the bikes and hope to add to the fleet if the demand is there.