Every few years, a young quant-geek with a passion for data analysis and a sadistic taste for urban cycling attempts to answer an important local question: If San Francisco is a city famous for its steep hills, which streets in San Francisco are really the steepest?
The question was asked in 2011, and in 2013, and (like clockwork) it was asked again this week, as a young quant geek from the excellent Pricenomics blog studied the topographic datasets for San Francisco and concluded (once again) that Bernal Heights has the steepest streets in San Francisco — and quite possibly the world.
To which any hill-toned Bernalese can only say: DUH!
Containing 5 gradients over 25% (four of which are over 30%), Bernal Heights claims bragging rights as the city’s steepest living quarters. Prior to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the neighborhood was largely undeveloped due to its hilliness. But shortly thereafter, merchants settled there, and houses were built along some unusually steep pitches.
They were particularly fascinated by the steep block of Bradford at Tompkins just above the Farmer’s Market:
With an astonishing 41% grade, Bradford Street, in the hilly Bernal Heights neighborhood, is the city’s steepest (at least of those surveyed). Admittedly, this stretch is quite short: the majority of Bradford Street climbs steadily at about a 24% grade before exploding into a 30-foot stretch of 41% paved road. “On such a slope,” writes Von Worley, “gravity alone pulls a one-ton car downhill with 800 pounds of force, accelerating it from zero to sixty in 7.2 seconds.”
“My (totally unsubstantiated) theory,” he tells us, “is that if you somehow got a high-center-of-gravity vehicle (like an SUV) sideways on the 41% section, then wiggled it the wrong way, it might actually roll over.”
They act surprised.
Anyway, this brings Bernalwood back to our original conclusion about the intense steepness of our streetscapes, and what this means for our identity and self-image as a neighborhood. As we wrote in 2011:
Let’s face it: Bernal Heights may not always be the smartest, or the prettiest, or the most popular neighborhood in the world. But we may rest secure in the knowledge that we will always be the steepest.
GRAPHICS: via Pricenomics