Las Vegas Sun

January 27, 2015

Currently: 52° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Six Questions:

Scott Nowicki, who bikes from Boulder City to UNLV


Scott Nowicki commutes from Boulder City to UNLV four days a week on his bicycle a 23-mile trip.

For three hours a day, four days a week, Scott Nowicki gets a view of Las Vegas few ever see: from a bicycle. That’s his method of commuting from his home in Boulder City to his classroom at the Department of Geosciences at UNLV, where he teaches geographic mapping and modeling and studies transportation systems.

Nowicki moved here in August from the biker-friendly Portland, Ore. He plans to push for better roads for bikers, as he did for 10 years in the sprawling suburbs of Phoenix.

What were your first impressions here?

I expected Las Vegas to be more like Phoenix. I’d seen Phoenix change so much. Now they have a big bike community and a light rail and coffee shops and bars. But I showed up in Las Vegas and it was obvious that we were starting again. At the same time, anything I can do here is an improvement.

What’s it like to bike in Las Vegas?

Green Valley is OK and some parts of Summerlin are OK. The core of Las Vegas is pretty tough. The arterials are so big. Everyone is going so fast. When we first got here, it was a pretty big shock to my wife and I. We thought, “This is dangerous. We’re going to die here.”

You have a huge commute ...

We decided to live in Boulder City because of the outdoor amenities. It’s a 23-mile ride to UNLV. That’s a little ridiculous, but I think it’s OK. I also get to test other routes and I’m finding more and more bits and pieces. I see what infrastructure needs to be changed to make it more friendly.

What needs to be done?

With the Transportation Research Center at UNLV, we’re mapping what’s in the city and what we need to do to progress. The idea is to connect the community colleges and the university so you have all those little nodes, and that will serve the rest of the city. Fifty percent of the roads connect pretty well now. There are just a few major problems. You can fix those relatively cheaply and it’ll be a whole better system.

What are the best places for biking in Las Vegas?

Red Mountain loop at Blue Diamond Highway. It’s spectacular. You’re riding on relatively quiet road and the geology is just there in front of you, all splayed out. On the other side of the valley is River Mountains Loop. It’s a paved road within this almost natural environment with huge vistas, great landscapes, and it’s safe. No cars. Those are two world-class road-riding situations, in addition to the area’s world-class mountain biking.

What about the worst?

I’ve ridden all over the world, and the scariest place ever was crossing the Strip. That is actually one of the major barriers to cycling in Vegas. For that five-mile stretch you’ve either got to take your life into your own hands or ride around it, which isn’t very satisfying.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

No trusted comments have been posted.