San Francisco is a lovely place to visit, but even locals can have a difficult time navigating the streets in a car. If you’re renting a vehicle instead of taking public transportation, keep these tips in mind.
The streets are crowded at almost all times of the day, but traffic is particularly dense during rush hour. Expect delays when crossing the Bay Bridge or the Golden Gate Bridge, and plan your trip accordingly. Watch for cars that might be merging into your lane.
Be Wary of Steep Streets
The city is famous for its steep hills, but this can make for dangerous driving, particularly in inclement weather. When driving downhill, give yourself plenty of time to stop for red lights and stop signs. It’s easy to underestimate the amount of momentum your car has. When driving uphill and stopping at an intersection, leave space between your car and the one in front of you. It’s not uncommon for cars to roll backwards a bit as they start up the hill again.
Curb Your Wheels
When parallel parking on these steep streets, it’s important to turn your wheels toward the curb. If you’re parking facing downhill, you’ll want them turned in toward the curb. If you’re parking facing uphill, the tires should be turned toward the street. There are usually signs posted to help you remember. This prevents the car from rolling downhill should the parking break fail. Police officers sometimes give tickets to those who don’t curb their wheels, even on flat streets, so it’s a good idea to make this a habit.
Watch for Pedestrians
Pedestrians always have the right of way in San Francisco, so you’ll have to keep a keen eye out for them. It’s not uncommon to see people cross the road without a crosswalk or during the times when the light tells them to wait. Cars are also required to share the roads with cyclists. In the downtown area, bike messengers deftly weave in and out of traffic to deliver packages and mail. This close proximity is difficult for those who aren’t used to driving around cyclists. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews on the dangers of driving in San Francisco.