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Readers: Denver Drivers Are Afraid, Aggressive...or Just Fine?

Drivers in Denver are getting worse, according to a recent study we reported on last week; we followed that story with a selection of comments from readers that were all over the map regarding Denver drivers.

In response, three more readers sent in their own opinions that took very divergent paths but were so detailed that we're sharing them here.

Says Jonathan: 

I moved here from Chicago in June and I have been all over the country driving. I've never experienced such terrible driving as I see here.

The natives are blaming people from elsewhere, but that's hilarious to me. If you are from somewhere else, you've seen decent driving there and you know that it's the natives here refusing to merge, refusing to go though a yellow light when waiting to turn etc causing the problems. I've never seen such timid, fearful driving. They all line up waiting for the little green lights on I 25 on ramps; it makes me laugh.

These people here wouldn't be able to drive in Chicago because they would be too afraid. They're afraid to go fast, turn quickly or honk when necessary. Just watch how a "merge" happens when the natives line up fifty cars deep in the left lane because they're afraid to merge at the same time like it is meant to be.

I feel like I'm driving in slow motion here; my girlfriend feels the same way. I've never seen a "city" blame so much on "outsiders." What kind of a "city" puts its blame on those uprooting their lives to spend and make money in Colorado. It is asinine to me they would want to come off like this. 

Says Nancy:

I was intrigued by your article about Colorado drivers. My husband and I just moved to Denver last year from Charlotte, North Carolina.

The comparisons are interesting: Polite South vs Wild West; Vast Expanses vs Cramped Atlantic Seaboard; Rain vs Snow; Arid vs Moist. Denver as an old town versus Charlotte as a newer town. Outdoorsy pedestrian friendly city (Denver) versus car-centric suburban city (Charlotte) lacking sidewalks.

Here’s how I’m trying to be in my new home. I try to bring Southern civility to driving (yes, I will not block the driveway or side street, yes, I will let people into the lane, or nose out to turn left on a busy street.) I am having to be uber-careful about pedestrians (NOBODY walks and bikes in Charlotte) because they can pop up just about anywhere, not just at intersections. I respect and value what Denver tries to do in making this town ped-friendly. I am diligently obeying the speed limit at all times even though (strangely) the speed limits are 10 to 15 mph SLOWER than most Charlotte streets.

That said, I find some (not most, not all) Denver drivers are insanely aggressive on narrow, old, pot-holed streets. They speed past, ignoring the limits, they honk if you slow down to read street signs, and they honk even more if you pause in turning to let a pedestrian finish crossing in the crosswalk. They get angry if you try to parallel park. The are pissed if you try to pick your way through potholes (may I add in an unrelated rant that potholes in Denver can take out your entire front end?). A week ago I saw a woman stop to allow a wheelchaired individual finish crossing and a truck behind her honked incessantly in impatience. These same drivers maintain speed in slick conditions, and dart in an out of traffic during rush hour on I-25 or between Denver and the Springs. Driving home from skiing, these are the folks who just will not let you keep a few car lengths between you and the vehicle ahead. Just try it. Even though traffic is racing down the hill at 75 mph, they insist on filling up the space in front of you to get a jump on everyone else. I just feel there are more of these drivers than I recall anywhere else I have lived.

Is it something in the water? Do pick up trucks and SUVs come stocked with adrenaline/testosterone impregnated leather? Is it the hat? The boots?

Call me Mabel, but my strategy is to get in the slow lane and stay there.

(PS, I love Denver and since my ancestors homesteaded in Gunnison in the 1850s, I feel I’m back in my ancestral land!)

And then there's this from Donna:

I have always found Colorado drivers to be very courteous. Anytime I need to get into a lane, I am let in. Anytime there is a light out, the drivers automatically take turns. I have had some relatives come in from other states who also said that they experienced very courteous drivers here.

I think we create our own problems by always complaining how bad things are with drivers. When I go driving, I send blessings ahead to every driver and wish them the best rather than always cursing them out and thinking how bad things are. So I think the courtesy begins with each one of us and if each one of us extends the courtesy we will have great driving conditions.

That the exit and entrance ramps could be better is a given, for I never know if it is going to be a left or right entrance unless I have driven the street a lot. So instead of complaining, how do we find a solution to this? Is anyone in the city going to listen and do something about it?

Although readers can't agree on much, they converge on suggesting that merge lanes onto highways are a major traffic obstacle. What other transportation problems do you see? What do you think of these diverging opinions? Post a comment or email editorial@westword.com, as these three did.

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