John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
With tourists crowding around Lombard Street, the city could also require reservations.
The world’s supposedly crookedest road—Lombard Street in San Francisco—is also one of its most congested, with some 2 million people flocking there yearly to snap photos and poke around its eight, flower bed-laden switchbacks.
The constant flow of cars and hooting visitors has long annoyed some locals, who claim the crowds are ruining the feel of the neighborhood. The city has responded by banning cars for a period in 2014—which one news site claims made pedestrian traffic worse—and sending out “ambassadors” to handle traffic and safety concerns after a tourist was shot and robbed nearby in 2015.
Now it’s trying something else. The San Francisco County Transportation Authority is embarking on a study of nuclear options to clear Lombard’s constipation, including a reservation policy and charging a toll to traverse its serpentine turns. According to the Chronicle, the options include:
Using parking control officers and ambassadors to educate and help control crowds on the street, along with offering discounted round-trip cable car fares for people who travel to Lombard by transit instead of driving.
Restricting access to the block by closing it to nonresident pedestrians and vehicles or requiring visitors to gather at a nearby location and take shared ride vehicles.
Charging tolls to drivers who want to go down the street.
Requiring reservations or selling tickets or passes at a site away from the hill.
These potential strategies are not just meant to reduce traffic but also littering, vandalism, and invasions of privacy, such as when people climb on walls or in one case the roof of a house. (The homeowner chased them off with a golf club, according to the Chronicle.) The transportation authority held a community meeting yesterday to solicit feedback, and plans to issue a final report sometime this fall.