Map Monday: Safe School Routes in Las Vegas


As students head back to school for the first classes of 2020, the City of Las Vegas is making sure that everyone has a safe route to school. Launched on the first day of the 2019-2020 school year, the Safe Routes to School 2019-2020 website features the safest biking and walking routes to schools in the city. Screenshot of LV neighborhood with blue lines and arrows indicating safe routes

The site maps designated bike lanes, 25 and 15 mph school zones, stoplights, and crossing locations. Parents, guardians, and students can zoom into the map to get more detailed information about individual schools, and print PDFs of the safe routes around that institution. Future updates will make the map more interactive, so users can enter their home address and school name then receive a customized, safe walking (or biking) route. Other iterations will include information on closed sidewalks, construction, and crossing guards.

Close up of the map with an elementary school highlighted, with clickable link to the safe routes to this location

Having real-time updates on changes to the physical infrastructure means that students can find alternative routes to school before encountering these potential dangers during their commute. Las Vegas transportation officials also plan to have a routing algorithm that will eventually consider live congestion levels and traffic speeds, which will not only inform students but also policymakers, who can decide to install new crosswalks, flashing pedestrian lights, or sidewalks to make certain areas safer.

A report by Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit focused on eliminating preventable youth injury and death, found that there are more than five teen (ages 12-19) pedestrian deaths every week. In 2015, those teens made up 26 percent of all children (ages 0-19), but they were nearly half of the pedestrian fatalities. School zone risks are elevated by distracted pedestrians and drivers. Maps like the Las Vegas Safe Routes to School are important for increasing the safety of youth bikers and walkers, but perhaps future iterations should include information about commuting awareness as well. A safe route relies not just on the physical spaces but on safe driving, walking, and biking practices in order to best protect everyone.

About the Author

Betsy Gardner

Betsy Gardner is a writer for Data-Smart City Solutions and the producer of the Data-Smart City Pod. Prior to joining the Ash Center, Betsy worked in a variety of roles in higher education, focusing on deconstructing racial and gender inequality through research, writing, and facilitation. She also researched government spending and transparency at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Betsy holds a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Policy from Northeastern University, a bachelor’s degree in Art History from Boston University, and a graduate certificate in Digital Storytelling from the Harvard Extension School.