World's Steepest Streets

My friend Mike Scalisi (leader of the “Scalisi Death Ride”) keeps talking about Baldwin Street, so I poked around and found listing of a few other streets:

It made me wonder about San Francisco streets. In my running days I ran the California Mile (in 6:05, winning time was 5:04) which is a pretty wicked climb. But how does one measure the grade (technically I know, a 32% grade means that it rises 32ft over a 100ft run). But for streets that are longer and are not the same grade during the entire run, how should one measure the grade, or determine which street is steepest?

It seems that measure should be the mean, an average of the entire street, and that there should be a minimum distance. I imagine there are several very steep, but short, streets.

Anyway, there are a number of streets in San Francisco that must rank in the top ten – I don’t know exactly which street is the steepest, but this is a Wikipedia entry begging to be authored.

The steepest streets in San Francisco top out around 31% grade; Filbert between Leavanworth and Hyde is thought to be the steepest.

Generally I think maximum gradient is what’s reported.

There are a few public roads with a 1:3 gradient (33 1/3 %) in the UK. One is quite near me, by Widemouth Bay near Bude in north Cornwall. Hardknott Pass in Cumbria is also 1:3 in sections, and a bit longer than the Widemouth Bay road. I’ve ridden both of those on a bike (solo and tandem) but not on a unicycle.

Neither of them have any houses though, so I suppose they don’t really count as “streets”.


Well apparently Ganton avenue, pittsburgh, united states has a grade of 37%. :astonished:

There’s a street in Harlech, Wales, which is signposted as 1:2.5 (40%). It’s one way in the downwards direction however, so riding up it would be a bit cheeky (although it’s also signposted “Unsuitable for motor vehicles”, so you’re not likely to find anything actually coming down, and hey, you’re on a unicycle!)

Could you pin-point it on a map? There are an awful lot of contours around Harlech, but none that I can see would get quite this steep! It’s tempting to go and have a look.


Ffordd Penllech, a one way road (down only) is marked

I love the way the smooth tarmac is covered with damp leaf mulch in that photo. Obviously a dry grippy surface would be far too easy! :smiley: