Moving to San Francisco? A Guide to Getting Around
May 13, 2019 11:41
San Francisco is a truly wonderful place. Fantastic food, a vibrant arts and cultural scene, a diverse population, quirky neighborhoods, and of course gorgeous ocean views all make this city one of the world’s top tourist destinations.
If you have visited San Francisco — and it feels like you left your heart there — you may be considering packing up and moving to this marvelous City by the Bay. Like any city, however, San Francisco does have its idiosyncrasies. It’s important to know about them before you make a major life decision. One of the main issues is getting around, since things work a little differently here when it comes to transportation. Read on to find out how to get from A to B when you’re living in San Francisco!
San Francisco is considered the second most walkable city in the nation, with a WalkScore of 86. Chinatown, Lower Nob Hill, and Downtown-Union Square are particularly pedestrian-friendly, but you can run errands by foot in nearly every neighborhood.
Of course, S.F. is also known for its hills — there are over 50 in all within the city limits! And these aren’t gentle inclines, either. The famous Lombard Street, with its picturesque twists and turns, is only a 27 percent grade; some streets are as steep as a 41 percent grade! You will definitely work out those quad muscles if you find an apartment on or near one of these super-steep streets.
Most walkable cities are also fairly bikeable, and San Fran is no exception. Again, you’ll need to be pretty fit to pedal up all those hills (but think how much fun coasting back down them again will be!), but you won’t be hard pressed to find bike racks, and most drivers here are courteous about sharing the road.
Taxis Are Hard to Come By
You would think that, with the increased competition from Uber and Lyft, taxis would be fairly easy to hail, but that’s not the case. New Yorkers who migrate to the West Coast are in for a surprise when they find out they must call ahead for a taxicab. Another option is to hoof it to the nearest hotel and stand in the taxi line. Of course, you can always rely on ridesharing instead, too.
Public Transportation Is Good...Ish
You can ditch that dream of swinging on and off cable cars during your commute; they really aren’t that great for traveling through the city, and therefore are mostly ridden by tourists.
San Franciscans rely on the Muni bus and underground system, as well as BART trains, to get around. While there is no dearth of public transportation options, they can be confusing to understand, and they don’t connect to one another.
Will You Need a Car?
A lot of people wonder if they should hold on to their vehicle when they move to the City by the Bay, or if it will be just one more hassle, and expense, to deal with. The answer to that question, naturally, depends on several factors, perhaps most importantly where your job is in relation to your home.
It’s also worthwhile to consider how often you’ll want to leave the city. If you want to travel within the Bay Area or the rest of California fairly frequently, then it makes sense to have a vehicle of your own. If you only plan to get out of dodge a few times a year, and can commute to your workplace via foot or BART, it’s worth selling your car and renting one when you need it.
When it comes to vehicle safety, San Fran is improving. Through a campaign called Vision Zero SF, the city is taking aggressive measures to reduce traffic-related deaths — and it’s working. In 2019, the city recorded the lowest ever number of traffic deaths.
New safety initiatives and public awareness campaigns mean that street by street, San Francisco is becoming a safer place to drive, walk, and bike, says John A. Sheehan, a car accident injury attorney in San Francisco with The Barnes Firm. Even still, it’s important that bike riders practice defensive driving to avoid potential accidents due to inattentive drivers.
Residents of this beautiful city say that getting around takes a little flexibility, a little savvy, and a willingness to work those leg muscles. Be prepared to spend some time learning the ins and outs of public transport methods, and maybe even to make some missteps when it comes to whether you can walk to a certain destination or not.
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