Las Vegas built its brand on fantasy, fun. People come here to escape from reality and enter a fantasy world. People do things here and they wear things here they would never dare to do or wear back home. That’s why you come here. To not be you.
So how can we keep that fantasy world alive, not break that 4th wall (so to speak) and yet keep it all safe from the ills of modern society? Good question. About a year ago I was in at the Las Vegas Convention Center having that conversation with their security people.
For most other cities, it’s an easy answer. Just put up big ugly barriers that separate street traffic from pedestrian traffic. Make it a little more difficult for the average person to work around it without being seen or noticed. They make security be more present, seen. They make it very well known you are being watched. The Las Vegas convention center people, as well as those on the Strip, agree, we cant do that here. We need to let the tourist remain in that fantasy world they know Las Vegas is.
Immediately following the October 1st massacre, METRO Police cars and uniformed officers patrolled the front of the resorts on the Strip and downtown like never before. You knew you were being watched 24/7. You knew as you walked from one casino to another, someone was there to keep an eye on you.
The massacre, as well as this visible increase in uniformed and armed security patrols, put the Strip into a deep funk, making it all seem real and normal. That’s not what you come to Las Vegas to experience and it showed. Killing off anything that resembled Las Vegas, the tourist town.
Thankfully the Strip quickly realized the error and resumed more of a undercover security they are known for, as well as “enhanced” monitoring plus other means to keep the tourist safe from harm without needing to be overly and openly protective. It was Las Vegas, secured. It’s that fine line those who protect us must walk. Keeping the Vegas tourist feel safe, be safe, yet letting their fantasy world continue.
A Safer Barrier
In November, crews started to install 800 steel posts, also known as bollards, center Strip. Another 8,00 will be installed later this year to line the entire Strip from the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign to Sahara Avenue. These 4-foot posts will help keep pedestrians on the sidewalks and the vehicles in the roadway.
The bollards are capable of withstanding a head-on collision from a 15,000-pound (6804-kilogram) vehicle traveling at 50 mph (80 kph)
At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of them. A barrier on the Strip? Do we really need to be like every other major city and highlight the fear?? However, as I walked the Strip this past week, the more I got see them and how they look, the better I felt about them. They do seem to keep people where they are supposed to be, they do not distract from your views or your perceptions of the area around them.
They really do give you a sense of being safer while walking the crowded Strip from speeding cars or worse things on wheels without caging you in or making you walk around obstacles.
The alternative would have been a concrete barrier or NASCAR style foam wall would have hindered the openness people expect from walking the Las Vegas Strip. You would have felt like you were walking through a perpetual construction zone. Talk about being a buzz kill!
MGM has since gone with a white concrete barrier to separate the guests walking to the T-mobile area and the cars trying to get into the parking garage. Not pretty. The verbal, as well as non-verbal cues you get from the people trying to navigate these things, is that “this is not the Vegas I expect”. It’s more like an ugly cage you are being corraled into.
The people at the Las Vegas convention center were so correct in their assessment of what would and would not work for their guests. It needed to be low key, not to give the convention attendees a cattle call feel while walking in the crowds as they go from one hall to the other or to the shuttle buses. Yet it needs to be strong enough and visible enough to say “you are safe” and from what I saw at this year’s CES, they nailed it. A very aesthetically pleasing barrier. Concrete, yet low profile with a subtle tone to its color that made a perfect security statement.
It’s not a perfect solution, but for now, it is the best way to keep our golden goose (tourism) alive and kicking while keeping the Vegas tourist safe from harm while enjoying our fantasy world.
So again I can say, Vegas is safe for tourists!!