Eight Things That Make Boulder Residents Very, Very Mad

When I moved to Denver in 1998, I was told: “Just wait...someday there won’t be any empty space between here and Boulder, and it’ll all be one big metro area.”

Well, the first part of that has pretty much happened.

You can argue about open space and greenbelts and whatnot, but the fact is that today you can drive from Denver to Boulder and never really feel like you’re in between places anymore.

Folks in Boulder might meditate a lot more, and there are probably more yoga pants per capita there than down here in Denver — but under the surface of all that peace, love and immense prosperity, there's still anger bubbling. What breaks the calm exterior of even the most placid Boulderites? Let’s start with these eight things:

8. Mork & Mindy
The ’70s phenomenon was most Americans' introduction to Boulder, and not in the best of ways.

Some residents point to this series as the beginning of the end for what Boulder had been: a low-key hippie enclave of students and peaceniks and the like.

But once the city became the mythical home of one of TV’s most beloved (and sometimes weirdest) sitcoms, the influx began.

It’s never really stopped, even if the real-estate market has done its best to discourage anyone from taking up residence.

7. Any Vehicle That Isn’t a Bike
Boulder is just not car-friendly, and doesn't want to be.

That’s one of the many conundrums of Boulder: People either have an expensive automobile or an old beater that they’ve been driving since the Reagan administration (with the requisite era-appropriate bumperstickers), and neither vehicle makes it out of the driveway if their owners can help it.

That's because the streets are slim and crowded, which backs up traffic — and the ridiculous Boulder street grid defies the term “grid.”

The sheer number of cars chugging through the Denver-Boulder tech corridor every weekday chokes the highway before it strangles Boulder itself. The town is a bitch to get around in pretty much any day of the week — and woe to you if there’s a CU Buffs game.... Better pack a lunch for a picnic in the Volvo.

6. Pearl Street Mall
Pearl Street used to be Boulder’s bread and butter. It was a nice place for out-of-towners to visit and is still a popular stop, despite the fact that a lot of the stores that gave it character have closed or moved.

Today it’s sort of a shadow of its former self, and has mainly become a place for buskers to put on performances and for visitors to wander around and eventually ask, “Why did we stop here again?” before they dutifully duck into the Cheesecake Factory for a 4,800-calorie lunch.

5. Parking
Is there any free parking left in Boulder city limits? Not really, at least not on surface streets.

Anywhere that used to be “park where you find a spot” is now “make sure that slip of paper is visible and pointing in the right direction and on the correct side of your dash, Boulder visitor, or else you’ll be instantly ticketed and potentially towed.”

It’s a friendly sort of place, Boulder is — just for $1.25 an hour, thanks.

Keep reading for four more things that make people in Boulder angry.

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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen