Dead-End SF Street Plagued With Confused Waymo Cars Trying To Turn Around 'Every 5 Minutes'
SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- A normally quiet neighborhood in San Francisco is buzzing about a sudden explosion of traffic. Neighbors say their Richmond District dead-end street has suddenly become crowded with Waymo vehicles.
"I noticed it while I was sleeping," says Jennifer King. "I awoke to a strange hum and I thought there was a spacecraft outside my bedroom window."
The visitors Jennifer King is talking about don't just come at night. They come all day, right to the end of 15th Avenue, where there's nothing else to do but make some kind of multi-point turn and head out the way they came in. Not long after that car is gone, there will be another, which will make the same turn and leave, before another car shows up and does the exact same thing. And while there are some pauses, it never really stops.
"There are some days where it can be up to 50," King says of the Waymo count. "It's literally every five minutes. And we're all working from home, so this is what we hear."
At several points this Tuesday, they showed up on top of each other. The cars, packed with technology, stop in a queue as if they are completely baffled by the dead end. While some neighbors say it is becoming a bit of a nuisance, everyone finds it a little bizarre.
"I don't really have a preference either way, but it is a little bit odd that they're over here so much," said Katie, who lives on the street.
"And especially across a Slow Street, and into a one-block street," added Andrea Lewin, referring to the city program designed to limit through traffic on certain residential streets. "It's a little peculiar."
The frequency of the visits is sparking conversation in the neighborhood, but for now, neighbors can only guess as to what exactly is causing this.
"We have talked to the drivers, who don't have much to say other than the car is programmed and they're just doing their job," King says.
"There are fleets of them driving through the neighborhood regularly," says Lewin. "And it's been going on for six, eight weeks, maybe more."
In an emailed statement, a Waymo spokesperson said, "We continually adjust to dynamic San Francisco road rules. In this case, cars traveling North of California on 15th Ave have to take a u-turn due to the presence of Slow Streets signage on Lake. So, the Waymo Driver was obeying the same road rules that any car is required to follow."