As a Las Vegas bicyclist for decades (including a stint as a newspaper kid), I can tell you that the real question is, “Is it possible to safely ride a bike in any car-centric urban environment?” No matter how “bike friendly” a city may be (think Portland, Ore., or, surprisingly, Minneapolis, which was recently named Bicycling magazine’s No. 1 Bike City), the best safety device on a bike is the rider.
Nonetheless, it is possible to ride safely here—and there’s a decent cycling heritage in town. In the 1970s, Las Vegas had an active bike culture, spearheaded by the Las Vegas Wheelmen cycling club. Back then, a paved bike path, physically separated from the roadway, shadowed Charleston Boulevard from about Rainbow Boulevard all the way west to the Red Rock Loop. Sadly, that lane was swallowed by roadway expansion.
But recent developments, including an east-west road-bound trail system (along Alta Drive), and more off-roadway recreational multi-use trail systems (45 miles of them maintained by the city of Las Vegas at last count) are bringing bicycling back. Nationally, urban cycling culture is on the upsurge, led by events such as Blinking Man (Facebook.com/blinkingman). And downtown Las Vegas is riding the wave, particularly by making bike commuting easier via bus bike racks and bike storage and repair at the Downtown Transportation Center.
What do you think should happen with our essentially useless monorail?
Simple: Either make it useful by extending it to both downtown and McCarran International Airport, or convert it to an elevated urban trail and garden, like Manhattan did with the High Line (TheHighLine.org)—perhaps the most modern and impressive urban repurposing I have ever seen.
Where’s the Native’s favorite place to take a walk?
Nobody walks in Las Vegas! But despite my car-bicycle-Vespa fetishes, I do. By default, I mostly stroll around my central neighborhood. Old Vegas is all big trees, quiet streets, unique houses and friendly people. As a child, my parents would cruise ultra-posh Pinto Lane in the Pontiac and say, “One day…”; I do the same on foot. Also: The 3.65 miles of trails at the Springs Preserve are refreshing, as is the bucolic Floyd Lamb State Park.