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Driving in San Francisco

Troy, Michigan
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Driving in San Francisco

I tried finding this info but not much success. I would be driving a bit around within San Francisco. At least as far as parking my car and then walk to the hotel before using MUNI for sightseeing SF. But I see that my route goes through few streets that share the lanes with Cable cars. So do we have to drive on the same lane as the cable cars? Are there any general rules to adhere to like right of way etc?

Thanks

San Francisco Bay
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1. Re: Driving in San Francisco

The cable car always has the right of way. In fact, they are able to change traffic signals from red to green, or back to red.

Stay well clear of them, and know that crazy passengers may be jumping off the sides and back and into traffic without realizing what they are doing.

If you are riding on one, stay well back of the gripman, who has a big job to do, and cannot be crowded. Also stay clear of the brake at the back of the car, because the brakeman may have to turn that brake and needs room, too. These Muni cablecar men are revered in San Francisco, and for good reason.

There is even an annual cable car bell ringing contest for the gripmen.

San Francisco
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2. Re: Driving in San Francisco

On Powell St from Market to California the cable cars have their own lane and you should not be in it.

Where are you coming from and where are you headed? Perhaps we can help with a route. Sometimes going a few blocks out of your way can get you to your destination much more efficiently than what appears to be the direct route. (For instance I would never drive into the Union Square area on Post St.)

San Francisco
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for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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3. Re: Driving in San Francisco

I guess what most of us locals would ask is whether you need a car in San Francisco for some reason we don't know. If you stay at a hotel anywhere near the cable cars, you will be close to the best public transit options in town, not only cable cars but historic streetcars that are also fun to ride, Muni Metro trains (subway downtown, surface in the outlying neighborhoods), buses, and BART for regional transit (goes to adjoining counties and across the Bay).

Most downtown hotels with parking charge $40-55 per DAY. There are other 24-hour parking facilities downtown, but they are not cheap either, some do not have in-out privileges, and they may not be as convenient or secure as the hotel.

We always suggest that visitors not bring rental cars here, if possible. If you want to make a day trip out of town, we suggest renting a car for that day. All the major companies have branches around Union Square, Civic Center, and Fisherman’s Wharf as well as the airport.

It isn't only mingling with all kinds of transit vehicles that makes driving a challenge for visitors, but other private cars, delivery vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles, hills, one-way streets, and parking regulations. For parking alone, we have meters, non-metered time-limit parking, street cleaning days (from twice monthly to 7 days a week), curb lanes that are parking strips part of the day but become a.m. or p.m. commute traffic lanes (enforced by parking control officers accompanied by tow trucks); and red, blue, green, yellow, and white curbs that represent a myriad of parking restrictions that will make you dizzy. If you don't see a meter or painted curb, that doesn't mean you lucked out; all other areas will have restrictions on signposts by the curb.

Oostburg, Wisconsin
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4. Re: Driving in San Francisco

I'd agree with all posts recommending against driving in SF. SF is a walking paradise. Sure, it's the slow season, but with the hills, peds, bikers, one-way streets, MUNI, etc. your best option is to use public transportation and walk.

San Francisco...
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5. Re: Driving in San Francisco

Before driving in our city you should listen to "Driving in San Francisco" by Bill Cosby

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOmayx2JBs8

Troy, Michigan
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6. Re: Driving in San Francisco

All,

Thanks very much your replies. Based on your replies I decided not to drive around within San Francisco. But I would be driving to The Chancellor hotel at Union Square from Los Angeles. I got a parking package through them when I booked and I have to come up to the hotel first. I would probably decide to go with the valet parking to avoid the hassle of parking the car from there. But it seems like the Powell st outside Chancellor hotel is right on the cable car line which seems to be sharing the lanes with cars? Source: Google street view.

San Francisco Bay
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7. Re: Driving in San Francisco

Perhaps the General Manager of the Chancellor will chime in here with specific driving advice for you on Powell St. Don't worry, your danger will only last about 10 seconds, and you can tell the story later if you live to tell the tale.

The street is not as steep as the one that Bill Cosby narrates -- hope you listened to that for comic relief! Just be sure to avoid crossing Nob Hill when going from Union Square to Fisherman's Wharf!

San Francisco CA
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8. Re: Driving in San Francisco

In the block of Powell St. on which the Chancellor sits, the cable cars run along a raised trackway in the center of the street, and cars are allowed only in the curb lane. At any intersection and around the cable cars, watch for pedestrians who will do the unexpected.

Menlo Park...
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9. Re: Driving in San Francisco

if you think that driving in SF is wild, try parking. I don't mean just the over-priced lots and valet parking. I mean try parking on one of the hills, assuming of course that you are lucky enough to find such a space when you need one. The local law says you have to curb your tires into the curb, to help prevent the car from running away. Downhill crank the steering wheel to the right. Uphill crank it to the left. Hard to say what constitutes a hill though.

San Francisco
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10. Re: Driving in San Francisco

<<Downhill crank the steering wheel to the right. Uphill crank it to the left.>>

That is the case on a two lane street but not for a one way street where you can park on either side. Downhill: turn your wheels toward the curb. Uphill: turn them toward the street.

Is there any way you can get rid of the car at the airport before you arrive in SF?

Otherwise, arrange your entrance to downtown from the WEST. Take either Post or Bush, turn right onto Powell and then into the Chancellor's white zone for the valet.