Here are the facts; Las Vegas is the third sunniest city in the United States at 85% sunny days; except a few hills to the south, it is reasonably flat; and the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) continues to create bike trails and riding lanes throughout the metro area. Detailed maps exist on their site. Also, Interbike: The Largest Annual Gathering of the Bicycle Industry in North America is held in Las Vegas every year. In September of 2015, the Mandalay Bay Convention Center will be the host.
With conditions this ideal, Las Vegas should be bicycle heaven. If any city in North America were to be the beacon for alternative local transportation in the form of bicycles, we are it. Instead, like every other city in America, cars dominate our streets. Why?
Fear: The great motivator
In 2010, there were 583 bicycle-car crashes that resulted in 527 injuries and 6 deaths. Many people don’t consider bicycles as reasonable transportation due to their vulnerability. We can get a good idea how pervasive this fear is from a progressive bicycle city in the Northwest. Portland, Oregon, a wet, foggy, hilly city is making a good run at becoming the leader in bicycle transportation. Their research shows four attitudes toward using bicycles as a legitimate form of transportation.
Less than 1% of people are strong and fearless and 7% are enthused and confident. A full 60% are interested but concerned, while 33% say Now way, No how. Portland’s population is green-conscious and most favor ways of improving bicycle safety. However, no matter how many studies they perform, it isn’t the bicyclists that need more training as much as the awareness of drivers need to be increased. The fear of hitting a cyclist should be at least on par with the fear of the cyclist getting hit.
Holding cars responsible
Other than hitting a cyclist, how many laws are on the books regarding cars vs. bicycles? As Las Vegas bicycle accident attorneys, we’ve seen that drivers know the laws for the road and their relationship to cars and motorcycles but few concern themselves with any laws regarding bicycles. Enforcement is also an issue. Drivers typically grumble over sharing the road with bicycles and this attitude is a major contributor to the nearly 600 reported accidents each year.
Right now, the “strong and fearless” along with the “enthused and confident” cyclists can still depend on fighting for their rights after an accident through a personal injury lawsuit. The families of the six fatalities can also seek a wrongful death suit. These may not be the best deterrents but these types of suits have been effective in other areas of society; improving health care, transportation, products, medicines, and public property.
Holding drivers and their insurance companies financially responsible for injuries sustained in a bicycle accident through a civil claim will help cyclists recover from their injuries and losses. But with 93% of the population hesitant to hop on a bicycle for fear for their lives, the county will have to do more to educate drivers to their responsibilities toward cyclists. Also, when gas prices hit intolerable levels it would be nice if drivers were prepared for an increase of bicyclists on the road.
The odds are that bicycles aren’t going away. We can feel lucky to live in an ideal city for them. You don’t want to move to Portland anyway, especially when Paradise is just down the road.