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Driving You Crazy: Is it legal to turn from eastbound 26th east of Federal into the Safeway Parking lot?

Is it legal to cross the double yellow lines?
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Posted at 5:41 AM, Oct 27, 2020
and last updated 2021-08-30 08:54:52-04

Wayne from Denver writes, “What’s driving you crazy? As our resident traffic expert, can you provide with some direction as to where to request a barrier or curb installation? Eastbound 26th Avenue, east of Federal, west of Eliot, in front of Safeway. Eastbound drivers routinely turn left from 26th into Safeway parking lot across a double yellow line during rush hour. These drivers are not only violating traffic laws, but they back up eastbound traffic onto Federal Boulevard. I want the city to build a curb or barrier to prevent this and require drivers to turn left at Eliot street, which has a traffic light.”

I can feel your frustration from your comments, Wayne. However, your premise that it is illegal to make a left across a double yellow isn’t accurate.

Most drivers are aware that it is illegal to cross a double yellow line during normal traffic conditions. However, in Colorado, as well as in most states, crossing a double yellow line is allowed for a left turn into or out of an alley, into or out of a private driveway/public street, or to make a legal U-turn, but only when such movements can be made safely. It is covered in section the driving section 42-4-1005 of the Colorado code.

I asked Denver police to weigh in on this issue. They tell me, “those turns into or out of the Safeway parking lot from 26th Ave across the double yellow are legal.”

MORE: Read more traffic issues driving people crazy

Crossing double yellow lines is also covered on page 18 of the Colorado Driver’s Handbook saying, “You may cross a solid yellow line for a left turn into an alley, private road or driveway when such movement can be made safely”.

The handbook also includes these other rules for crossing double yellow lines:

Yellow Lines: Separate traffic moving in opposite directions.
• Broken Yellow Line: Drive on the right side of the road and pass with care.
• Solid Yellow Lines: Means a NO-Passing Zone.
• Double Solid Yellow Lines: Neither side can pass.
• Solid & Broken Yellow Lines: You may not pass if the solid yellow line is on your side. If the broken yellow line is on your side, you may pass if it is safe to do so.

As for a barrier that would prevent drivers from making that turn off eastbound 26th Ave, the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure tells me they are working on a project to enhance safety and mobility along Federal Boulevard in that area. They tell me as part of this project on Federal, “our team will take a look at the intersection you’re referencing to determine if any improvements can also be made at the Safeway entrance”. The other improvements along Federal will include bulb-outs to give people walking more space, transit stop enhancements, and leading pedestrian intervals at signalized intersections. Leading pedestrian intervals provide pedestrians with more time to cross the street safely and helps establish their presence in the intersection.

By the way, the city says if you would like to make an official request to have a curb built here or for any other request the form is located here:

Denver7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 20 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on iTunes , Stitcher , Google Play or Podbean.