Cars Will Remain on the Crooked Block of Lombard Street Until at Least 2016

A dance mob makes its way down Lombard. Image via Youtube

Cars will continue to fill the crooked block of Lombard Street until at least 2016. Although the trial car closures last summer were seen as a success, the gears of city bureaucracy appear to have slowed the momentum for going permanently car-free. It will take until December for the city to issue a report on the restrictions. No timeline has been laid out for implementation.

Funding for the study was recently approved by the the SF County Transportation Authority board, comprised of the Board of Supervisors. Proposition K sales tax revenue will account for $100,000 in funding, and another $25,000 will come from D2 Supervisor Mark Farrell’s office.

The study will look at three scenarios, ranging from “limited access” to “car-free,” according to an SFCTA report [PDF].

Last summer, the SFMTA collected data on how the famous crooked block of Lombard and surrounding streets worked during the car restrictions. During the trial, all cars were banned except taxis and drivers who were accessing homes on the block.

The idea is to reduce the car queues that back up for blocks and make the street safer and more welcoming for people on foot. While it doesn’t take data to see that Lombard serves no transportation purpose for through-traffic and is a far better street when it’s open to families and dancing flash mobs — “chaos,” in the eyes of one reporter — challenging the primacy of cars apparently has to be a major undertaking, no exceptions.

  • Given that it’s a tourist attraction near a cable car line, it does seem pretty counter-intuitive that it requires a car.

  • Mesozoic Polk

    What good is a tourist attraction if it can’t be viewed from behind a safe, sturdy shield of steel and glass?

  • DrunkEngineer

    $125k to conduct a neighborhood outreach meeting and write a report? I’m glad the SFMTA isn’t spending too much on this.

  • gb52

    Totally agree with you. It’s ludicrous that something so simple would coast so much. And does it really even need to be done?! Yes, I know why they are doing it, but, really?

  • p_chazz

    Not really. The attraction is descending the winding street in a car, or watching cars descend. I don’t drive a car myself, but when I am entertaining out-of-town guests, I take them in a cab down Lombard Street.

  • No, if you’re walking the “attraction” is trying not to bump into confused tourists as you walk up a boring flight of concrete stairs. If you wanted to look at cars going down a curvy ramp, you could just go to any parking garage in the world and see the exact same thing.

  • p_chazz

    Well, of course the setting plays into it. The view of Telegraph Hill, the pretty flowers in the terraced flower beds, etc. The charming brick street, the clanging cable cars in the background, etc.

  • Exactly. Imagine how much there would be to see, hear, and smell if only you were outside instead of trapped in a 2,000 lb steel box inhaling exhaust!

  • “Nobody with a good car needs to be justified.”
    — Hazel Motes

  • murphstahoe

    This is your perspective. I might say the attraction is riding a bike down it, or walking down it, or just looking at it from the bottom with no cars.

    I don’t see any reason to see your perspective as more valid than any others, given you are part of the minority of freakozoids who don’t drive a car.

  • murphstahoe

    Come on, a BMW or two is part of the charm!

  • p_chazz

    I can empathize with people who are different from me. I don’t believe in factionalizing into pro- and anti- camps around issues. In this case, the twisty-turny block of Lombard was created to reduce the grade for–wait for it–cars! It wasn’t even a thing until it featured on a postcard–the tweet of the pre-computer age–in the 1950s.

  • Suvidha Bisht

    Lovely place to drive peacefully, must visit place in San Francisco.


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Today’s Headlines

Man, 77, Hospitalized by Driver While Crossing Dolores at 30th “Against the Red Light” (SFGate) SFMTA Board Approves Trial Car Restrictions on Crooked Lombard (SFGate, Exam, KRON, NBC) Sup. Wiener Pens Column on SFFD’s “Bureaucratic Backlash” Against Narrower Streets (CityLab) Sup. Avalos Proposes Ballot Measure to Remove Board Appointments From Mayor’s Power (SFGate) Report: SF Spends Too Little […]