Don’t Freak Out: Newly-Approved Pedestrian Bridge Ordinance Isn’t for You

The Clark County Board of Commissioners (overseeing the Las Vegas Strip) has approved a new ordinance that makes it a crime to stop on pedestrian bridges on The Strip.

If the ordinance were enforced as written, it would mean anyone stopping on a bridge, even to take a quick photo, would face a $1,000 fine, six months in the hoosegow, or both. For our fellow youths, a “hoosegow” is jail.

Never fear, though, we have the story behind the WTF to help avoid any freak-outs.

Thanks, A.I., for reminding Las Vegas we need to up our pedestrian walkway game.

Here’s the scoop: The ordinance isn’t for you.

The new ordinance is a tool for law enforcement, and it’s not directed at sightseers.

The new pedestrian bridge ordinance gives The Man (“po-po” for our fellow youths) options when dealing with unlawful vendors, buskers, panhandlers, the homeless and “short con” asshats (the folks who scam visitors with three-card monte and shell games).

These issues have been a concern for years, but F1 is ultimately the reason the ordinance was passed. Race organizers didn’t want people stopping on bridges to watch the race for free. This ordinance would presumably make that self-serving policy permanent. Full disclosure: We blame everything on F1.

Why can’t public officials just say the ordinance is to help deal with vendors and panhandlers and con artists? Because they’ll be sued. They probably will be, anyway.

The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) is already up in arms about this, saying the ordinance violates the First Amendment.

The ACLU has its heart in the right place, but that often means fighting the wrong fights when it comes to vagrants and criminals.

Downtown’s Fremont Street Experience has dealt with these same issues for years. Any attempt to prevent panhandlers and palm frond weavers has been met with fierce opposition from the ACLU.

Yes, holding a sign saying, “Kick me in the nuts, $20” is protected speech, despite such stupidity costing downtown businesses millions of dollars in potential corporate buy-outs. Don’t get us started.

A bridge too useless
Another new busker-free bridge is in the works not far from The Strat. Construction is set to start in fall 2024.

The reality is even if the ordinance is rolled out and enforced, the police aren’t going to cite tourists for stopping to take photos on Strip pedestrian bridges.

They’re going to use it to move along the folks selling bottled water or begging for money or forming crowds, sometimes for the purpose of pick-pocketing. (Beware inoperable escalators, too! Criminals intentionally disable escalators to concentrate foot traffic to pilfer wallets and purses.)

The bottom line is nothing to see here. Do your thing. Las Vegas exists so you can take photos of it, even on pedestrian bridges, some of the best vantage points on the Las Vegas Strip.

Update (1/2/23): Clark County is reiterating what we said in a snarkier way.