Would You Pay $10 to Drive Down This Famous Street in San Francisco?

Apr 17, 2019

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Would you pay $10 to drive down San Francisco’s famous Lombard Street (also known as the most crooked street in the world)? A bill proposed by city and state officials on Monday aims to combat the traffic jams plaguing the area by introducing a reservation system — and a toll to drive down the street.

According to CBS, an estimated 2 million tourists per year attempt to drive down the famous street in San Francisco’s residential Russian Hill neighborhood, causing lines of cars that sometimes stretch for several blocks.

“The cars really impact the neighborhood because they line up, they back up, they are sitting idling,” Greg Brundage, president of the Lombard Hill Improvement Association, told the Associated Press.

Photo by KEITH WONG on Unsplash
Photo by KEITH WONG on Unsplash

The street is frequently listed as one of the city’s top sights to see. The neighborhood’s residents created the hairpin turns in 1922 because the street’s 27-degree grade was too steep for the cars of the era. In the 1950s, residents planted flowers like roses and hydrangeas, turning Lombard Street into the beautiful attraction it is today.

But the area’s past residents may have been too successful in their efforts to make the street attractive. Current residents have been petitioning city officials to do something about the traffic, trespassing and trash for years.

The San Francisco Transportation Authority has developed two proposals to address the situation. In the first plan, tourists would need a reservation at all times and would have to pay $5 per vehicle. An alternative plan proposes a reservation system from 9am to 9pm that would charge $5 on weekdays and $10 on weekends and holidays. The street’s residents would be exempt, as would their guests and people who need to work in the area.

So, would you pay? We put the question out to our followers on Twitter, and got mixed responses. Greer W. called the proposal “a reasonable toll to pay for the traffic congestion that it causes.” And Kevin C., a financial consultant at Charles Schwab, tweeted, “Given that it’s mostly tourists who would likely be paying it, I say go for it. But being a local … no, I wouldn’t pay it.”

Others weren’t quite so diplomatic. “No way, but I’d sure like to get a look at the suckers who would,” one person responded.

If the toll does come into effect, it likely wouldn’t be until 2020, but the city needs approval from the state legislature to charge for access to a public road. So if an iconic photograph on Lombard is on your travel to-do list, you might want to get there sooner than later. Just remember to be respectful of the people who call the street their home.

Featured photo by Omer RanaUnsplash.

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