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A Guide on How to Drive in Denver

Driving in Denver is among the most debated subjects among Westword readers.

Now, we offer another opinion on the subject. Or should we say a whole bunch of them.

"How to Drive in Denver," featured on the Instructables.com site, finds a local resident and writer named fultron89 breaking down the local automotive transportation system in highly opinionated fashion.

At one point, he writes: "The sooner you realize that everyone else is either an idiot, an asshole, or legally blind in this town, the sooner you can make the decision to buy a bike, leave it at home, and ride the bus."

Below, see small excerpts from his seven-step guide to Denver driving, illustrated with screen captures from our 2015 post  UPDATE: DENVER'S EIGHT MOST DANGEROUS INTERSECTIONS.

This item offers a mere sample of fultron89's thoughts. To read, the original piece, complete with maps and a great deal of additional information, click here.

A Guide on How to Drive in Denver (2)EXPAND
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Step 1: Geography and Street Layout

The Rocky Mountains are to the west. This is easily the most helpful advice anyone ever could get for driving here.

The mountains can also be seen from pretty much anywhere in Denver, and once you've got a handle on that, you can find your way north or south, because anywhere is better than where you're at right now, which is, inexplicably, Denver.

Another helpful fun fact: 90% of the roads here run on a grid, meaning north-south, or east-west. The only areas this doesn't apply are downtown and in the suburbs (places like Littleton and Highlands Ranch, but what are you doing there?)

Step 2: Cities and Areas

There are 20 or so adjacent cities that make up the "Denver Metro Area," which is what most people use to refer to, um, the Denver metro area. I'll outline the most common ones:

Downtown: Slang for the City of Denver, which encompasses all the big skyscrapers and sports teams; the center of all that is Colorado.

Lakewood: The west side of town; the biggest city gets the naming convention. Populous.

Aurora: Conversely, the east side of town.

Wheat Ridge/Arvada: Northwest Denver, mostly residential, except when it's not.

Littleton: Southwest Denver, suburbs and Lockheed Martin MI complex; stay away unless you have a missile to sell.

The Tech Center: Included: Englewood, Centennial, and Highlands Ranch; Straight south down I-25, headquarters and branches of seemingly every white collar corporation ever, and the mother source of all of Denver's rush hour traffic. Seriously.

Westminster: Like Arvada North, except, well, it's Arvada North.

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Step 3: Interstate and Highways

There are two major Interstates that cross here, around these Denver has sort of coagulated. I70 carries your east-west traffic, and I-25 is north south. Both of these cross most of the country and run for hundreds of miles, so they're my logical starting place, since you'll be using them most often. For when you arrive, and when you flee.

There's also I-76 and I-270 directly north of downtown, they cross at I-25, and are pretty much useless for in-city driving.

On the Southern half of the crosshair, C-470 and I-225 create a big loop that acts as a city wall, keeping the heathen tribes of the suburbs out at night.

A Guide on How to Drive in Denver (4)
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Step 4: Taking the High Roads

Like I said earlier, the most important thing to remember about driving here is knowing what routes are clogged, at what time of day, and when to ignore your GPS.

For example, if your GeepeySauce or mapagoogles or whatever the kids are using these days tells you to take I-25 through the Tech Center, at any time, on any day, I would counter its instructions with an offer to chuck it out the window for you. I-25 is always hosed, and there's nothing to be done about it by you.

Step 5: Back Down to Earth

If you're avoiding the highways, you'll be using surface streets to get around. The problem with that is that then you have to deal with the increased traffic that comes with driving near shopping centers, or parts of town that are heavy on business.

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Google Maps

Step 6: Your Fellow Vehiculists

The best piece of advice I can give you about the other people on the road is that the sooner you realize that everyone else is either an idiot, an asshole, or legally blind in this town, the sooner you can make the decision to buy a bike, leave it at home, and ride the bus.

I realize that every city has it's share of bad drivers, but Denver's infestation is compounded by a couple of crucial elements. The first is what I assume must be Colorado's incredibly low age requirement to obtain a license (apparently 4 and a half, judging by the generally juvenile approach to basics like sharing, counting, and potty training), the second is what most people think of when they think of Denver: weather.

Step 7: Happy Trails

Well, this turned into a rant pretty quickly, didn't it?

Take it or leave it, just don't forget to avoid I-25 and always make sure you wear a helmet, and you'll be fine-ish.


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