Instructables
Picture of How to Drive in Denver
Good day!
I hate driving in cities. With a vengeance. With the fiery hated of a thousand suns.
In particular, I hate driving in Denver, mostly because I live there.

Anyway, I feel like I've got a pretty good handle on the ins and outs of getting around this fair city we've got going, so I thought I'd give a quick overview of the dos and donts, as well as the birds and bees of city driving. (I feel dirty after writing that)

I realize not everyone lives in the Mile High city (though it seems like they do), but I hope that this instructable will inspire others to create similar guides for their metropolitan/urban areas of their choice.
 
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Step 1: Geography and street layout

First off, the most important thing for any driver is knowing where you are in relation to your destination. The best way to know where you're at is to know which way is north (or south)
Luckily, we here in Denver are the noble decendants of those intrepid explorers who came west on wagons, saw the mountains, and said "Screw it, we're here!"

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?)
The streets in Downtown Denver are on a angle, they run northwest-southeast and vice versa. The reason for this is ingenious: in winter, all the streets will get a good 3-4 hours of sunlight, which would melt the snow! Brilliant! Except when it really snows (like four or five feet, which is rare), it's never sunny! Wheeee....
nodttiurp1 year ago
Caution: 6th Avenue has no relationship with Highway 6, other than being the western/northern termination point at right angles to the parallel route (yea, that sorta happens a lot as you get to the mountain wall west of Denver). Highway 6 runs from theTip of Cape Cod to Bishop, CA, and is never part of Denver's 6th Ave. The E/W convention of Avenues in Denver gets really confused when they approach the mountains and mainly run N/S, conflicting with N/S running numbered Streets, much less Hwys. When 6th Ave crosses Colfax (nee 15th Ave), a parallel street 9 blocks north, and then ends far north of 44th Ave (aka 10th St. in Golden) one can appreciate the confusion of those trying to turn E/W on a route that only offers N/S choices. CDOT needs to rename conventions when they change directions.
Excellent advice! Except not ALL Aurorans are shady ;) Some of us just like affordable housing in quiet neighborhoods and inexpensive/awesome ethnic restaurants :) Note that I did not refer to NORTH Aurora, as that's the shady zone.
canida4 years ago
Useful!
If I still lived in Boston I'd cover that city - it definitely takes some insider know-how to navigate quickly and successfully.
I need that. I moved here over the summer from the lower Midwest and wow. It's taken me 4 months just to learn some basic driving survival skills, and that mostly means how to get around about half the potholes, how to figure out when there's one lane or two, how to drive to work in a flood (bka rain), and how to effectively survive the people pulling out into traffic that don't see you (ie, don't care).

I went to Denver about 10 years ago on vacation and I learned to navigate by which shoulder the mountains were on. Once I figured that out, I didn't feel too lost, except for that one time I went downtown. But it wasn't too bad. Away from the mountains = east, towards the mountains = west. Left shoulder = north, right shoulder = south. My hotel was west. :)
fultron89 (author)  canida4 years ago
That would be very interesting- How one would navigate through the maze of potholes dug by yankees fans and filled by the Irish with week old whiskey-based vomit particularly intrigues me... Do you prefer bulletproof glass or steel shutters when you drive in Boston? :-)
Ha! When I lived there, they were changing up major (and minor) routes through the city on a daily basis as part of the Big Dig. It was a lot of fun to keep track of, and navigate smoothly.

Of course, I actually prefer biking in Boston! You get there faster, and can actually find a place to park.
Capfl2k54 years ago
Lol i use to drive truck... I hated Denver.
karossii4 years ago
You forgot a few key points....

First, if a light turns yellow, keep going - don't even bother to slow down (or you'll get honked at).
Next, there is a mandatory 3 car minimum for running red lights. So if your in the first three vehicles when a light turns red, you have to go through (or suffer the wrath of the idiots behind you as they get infuriated because you didn't go when you had the chance).
Also, on the highways the speed limit is more like this; slow lane = add 5. Center lane(s) = add 10. Fast lane = add 15-20. And yes, I am serious. I get passed ALL THE TIME when I am doing 5-10 over in the center lane. And I frequently am passed right and left, one of the slowest cars on the highway, doing 5-10 MPH over the limit.

fultron89 (author)  karossii4 years ago
Haha, very true. I assumed those are rules for driving anywhere, though my numbers may be a bit conservative to reflect my current vehicle's inability to make 60 in under ten minutes...
Having driven in Texas (Dallas, Houston, and Austin as well as smaller cities), Northen Cali (several silicon valley cities as well as SanFran), New York (Up State as well as NYC, Manhattan, and even down to Jersey), and having made many cross country trips by car, I can feel confident when I say Colorado (especially Denver) has the worst {public*} drivers I have ever encountered.

Now, the traffic can be worse elsewhere... but that is generally due to the constraints of the roads and such. Here in Colorado the drivers are just horrible!

*Now, for public transit and such, D.C. has the worst drivers in America... I have had taxi drivers go an entire block on the wrong side of the street (into oncoming traffic) to get past cars stopped at a light, just make a left hand turn. I was scared... very scared.

nodnol karossii4 years ago
I grew up in Detroit, home of "Malfunction Junction," a massive snarl of overlapping highway bridges and ramps. If a car breaks down on any one of the highways or ramps, ALL traffic stops. You're there for hours, hope ya brought a sammich. But I still think Atlanta has the worst traffic, hands-down (sorry Denver, you're on the list, well ahead of Detroit, and probably just behind LA and Atlanta.)
karossii nodnol4 years ago
I agree that Denver doesn't have the worst traffic here, as I said in my previous reply... but we do have the worst *drivers*
You gotta make one of these for the Springs. I moved here from a small city in Michigan, where people are alot more "conservative" while driving. It's taken me 2 years just to learn to accelerate fast instead of easing into a lane.
kelseymh4 years ago
Very nicely done! The sad part, of course, is that some very simple global search-and-replace can turn this into a description of just about any Western U.S. metro area :-)
fultron89 (author)  kelseymh4 years ago
Thanks, and it's not really the advice, but the manner in which it's dispensed that makes the 'ible unique, so I'm looking forward to others!