Even for those who live in a walkable neighborhood, Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in the country to drive in throughout the year. From the scenic Rockies to the foliage and wildlife, driving in Colorado Springs always provides many sights to be seen. The terrain and thin mountain air create a specific driving environment that must be taken into consideration every time a motorist gets behind the wheel, however.
Those who are new to Colorado Springs will quickly find that getting to and from major destinations is easy during the summer. However, the winter can create an entirely different driving experience. Therefore, those who are not familiar with driving in the snow should learn the major areas, parking regulations, and other laws before taking their first drive. Here's what new residents should know about driving in Colorado Springs.
Despite being a large city, the number of major roads in the area are small and easy to remember. Whether someone is new to the area or has lived in Colorado their whole life, driving in Colorado Springs is easy to learn.
Interstate 25 runs right through the center of downtown Colorado Springs. This north- and south-running interstate is the major connection for the area's largest highways, which include Highway 24 running east and west, and Highway 87, which takes residents north to the United States Air Force Academy.
Major local roadways to become familiar with while driving in Colorado Springs include West Cimarron Street, West Bijou Street, and West Colorado Avenue. All three of these streets run east and west. The only major north and south running street in Colorado Springs is North Nevada Avenue. All four of these major local roads eventually turn into Highway 87 or Highway 24.
What to Expect During Rush Hour in Colorado Springs
The average commute for an individual living in Colorado Springs is 21.8 minutes, which is about five minutes less than the nation's average commute. Over 78 percent of individuals drive their own car, while nearly 11 percent of commuters carpool.
Local data shows that rush hour begins around 6 a.m. However, over 22,000 individuals are hitting the road before rush hour begins to get to their workplace on time. The peak of rush hour in the morning is between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. During this two-hour window, over 94,000 residents are on local and major roadways heading to work. That is just under one third of the entire population of Colorado Springs! Despite having so many individuals on the road, morning commute ranges are still between 5 and 24 minutes.
Parking in Colorado Springs
Residents should be aware there is rarely any free parking available in downtown Colorado Springs and surrounding areas. Parking meters and garages are patrolled, and payments are strictly enforced Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Failure to pay the required parking fees will result in receiving a parking citation. The parking enforcement office is closed on all federal holidays.
When parking in Colorado Springs, residents can use coins, their credit or debit card, or even the ParkMobile App to pay their parking fees. Weekday rates in the parking garages start at $0.50 for up to 30 minutes, and then increase to $1 for every hour. The maximum daily rate is $9, while weekend rates are a standard $1 per hour with no daily maximum. Those who live farther away and commute to Colorado Springs daily can request a $70 monthly permit, or a $35 surface lot permit valid only in Old Colorado City.
Those who are just visiting for the day and wish to park on the street will find rates are dependent on the location. On-street parking closest to the heart of downtown Colorado Springs have a higher rate than the surrounding areas. Rates for on-street parking meters begin at $1.25 per hour in the heart of downtown, decrease to $1 per hour a few blocks out, and further decrease to $0.75 at the farthest edge of downtown.
Other Helpful Things to Know About Driving in Colorado Springs
Between the thin mountain air affecting a car's engine's acceleration to traffic, drivers must stay focused at all times while driving in Colorado Springs. Aside from cars, one of the most common sights on roadways in Colorado Springs are animals. Deer are regularly seen crossing the street during daylight and nighttime hours. Therefore, everyone is responsible for driving the speed limit and keeping their eyes out for the area's prevalent wildlife.
Aside from animals, snow and ice will be the greatest threats to drivers of all ages and skill levels. It is important for everyone on the road to winterize their vehicle before winter arrives. This process includes switching to snow tires, getting an oil change, checking the vehicle's battery, and providing any other service the vehicle needs to operate efficiently in winter conditions. A fresh emergency kit in the vehicle is also recommended that contains flashlights, batteries, water, matches, extra lawyers for warmth, a first aid kit, and other items mentioned by the local government.
Finally, the Traction Law is in effect throughout the entire state from September 1st to May 31st every year. The law may also be put into effect if a severe winter storm occurs outside these dates. This law requires all individuals to have 3/16" tread depth on their tires, winter tires, or chains on their tires to ensure maximum safety on the roadways. This law is strictly enforced by the Colorado Department of Transportation and all local authorities. Failure to comply with the law will result in a minimum fine of $130. Motorists who block the roadway due to not following the law will receive a minimum fine of $650.
Plan Your Drive in Colorado Springs
When residents live in Colorado Springs, they truly experience sights others in the country wish they could enjoy daily. However, driving in the Rockies does create unique challenges. It is important to know the vehicle and understand current regulations to ensure everyone is safe on the roadway. The change in the weather will be the best indicator it is time for residents to maintain their vehicles and mentally prepare for the challenges ahead. Whether you live in a Colorado Springs luxury home or a cozy townhome, the views and fresh mountain air make the driving experience in Colorado Springs worth it.