Denver traffic in the winter

Denver traffic is bananas! I have a friend who recently moved here from the Chicago suburbs and she said she’s been shocked by the number of cars on the road and the anger exhibited by drivers. Her impressions match my own observations, but somehow I thought the huge Chicagoland area might have similar (aka: awful) traffic. Apparently not. Denver is worse.

And, sadly, Denver car crashes and fatalities are also increasing as our population surges.

As many readers of my blog know, I’m a fan of Michael Roberts’ reporting for Westword. He monitors traffic and safety, and then he reports important stories, holding our elected officials responsible for the goals that they themselves set. (ie Vision Zero and our hands-free legislation)

Recently, Michael wrote a story listing Denver’s 10 most dangerous intersections. They are, in ascending order with Number 1 being the worst intersection in Denver for three years running:

  • Number 10: Downing Street at East Colfax
  • Number 9: Central Park Boulevard at East Martin Luther King Boulevard
  • Number 8: South Colorado Boulevard at East Alameda Avenue
  • Number 7: West Colfax Avenue at Kalamath Street
  • Number 5 (tie): Speer Boulevard at Auraria Parkway
  • Number 5 (tie): Quebec Street at East 36th Avenue
  • Number 3 (tie): West Alameda Avenue at South Federal Boulevard
  • Number 3 (tie): West Evans Avenue at South Federal Boulevard
  • Number 2: West Colfax Avenue at Speer Boulevard
  • Number 1: West Alameda Avenue at South Santa Fe Drive

According to Michael’s article, Denver’s population has increased by almost 400,000 people in nine years. That is an incredibly heavy additional load to our already-congested roadways. The result? Crashes and fatalities are on the rise. Last year saw the highest number of fatalities on record, with 65 fatalities on Denver’s roads. (Just in Denver proper!)

The Vision Zero website states that, in 2019, our fatalities came from these sources:

  • Person on a scooter: 1
  • People on bicycles: 3
  • People on motorcycles: 15
  • People walking: 23
  • People in cars: 28

Denver Accident Map

I also track Denver accidents on an open source tool that my team created. We call it the Denver Accident Map and it draws data every night from the Denver Open Data Catalog, refreshing the map every 24 hours for anyone to use.

Based on my map, I can tell that there were no fatalities in January 2020 on Denver roads, but February saw two fatalities: The first one was on February 5 at 6:20am near Lowry; the second one was on February 16 at 5:15am, near the intersection of I70 and Colorado Boulevard.

I also find it fascinating (and horrifying) to study the Denver hit-and-run statistics on the Denver Accident Map. Check out this cluster map for January 2020. One month alone filled the Denver map with hit-and-run accidents:

Map of car accidents in the Denver area

Or, for example, you can look at a specific month and determine how safe it is for bicyclists. Here is a snapshot of Denver bicycle accidents in June 2020. I clicked on one of the bike icons and discovered that it was also a hit-and-run accident!

Map of car accidents in Denver
Why do I do this depth of analysis? Well, of course, I’m a Denver personal injury attorney, so I’m a bit obsessed by Denver’s ridiculous traffic. But also, I guarantee that I will find routes that enable all of us to avoid those top 10 dangerous intersections listed above!

I love Denver for so many reasons…but drivability ain’t one of them! I want to drive and bike using the safest routes I can. I also want my sons to take the safest routes to school and to see their friends. As we continue to grow, I hope to be part of solutions that enable our citizens to walk, ride and drive safely, without undue stress. It’s not just about quality of life – it’s also about protecting life!