Four wheels | San Francisco guide

Public transport in the USA is less developed than in Europe for sure. Even the cities of California, one of the richest states are poorly connected. Journeys are long and tiring and pretty often you need to make up the road to get somewhere.

Short trips inside the cities are also limited by available connections. It’s caused by different things and one of them is a low cost of cars and fuels. Costs are 2-3 times lower than in Europe!

That’s why you will find so many muscle cars on the streets of California. Cars with engines so powerful are rare to be found in our part of the world.

Of course, while choosing the mean of transport I decided to go with a car. I chose services of Hertz to rent a car and I was very happy with them. I booked a middle-class car like Toyota Corolla and that’s what I’ve been expecting to get.

Tired and submissive I’ve been talked to take a full-size car. The “lady from Hertz” said I was so tall that there was no chance I would fit in Toyota Corolla!

I found out I could choose whatever car I wanted from the full-size area at the parking. Walking by another Hyundai Elantras I was sure that’s exactly my car. And then after the last pillar… There it was, waiting for me! Dodge Charger, 3.6 litres, 280 hp.

For the first 5 minutes, I was cheering like a child checking the car from every perspective. For the next 5 minutes, I was trying to make sure the car was really in the same category as Hyundais. Even the parking guy was making fun of me saying it was so obvious Dodge was a standard full-size car. Renting this car was a bulls-eye. Find out why it the next blog posts!

My few thoughts about customs on the road/cars in the USA:

  • Speed limits
  • In US speed limits work exactly the same as in most countries. You just need to look at the signs. Obviously, in the beginning, you might have difficulty with remembering that speed limits are in miles/h and not in km/h measurements. During the first day, it seemed to me that limits are quite restrictive. The second day I spend multiplying limits times 1.6. From the third day, to be honest, I just devoured the feeling of speed that Dodge Charger gave me and paid no attention to any signs 😉

  • Traffic lights
  • I found it brilliant that in US traffic lights are installed at the opposite side of the street. It may sound peculiar, but believe me, it makes ‘street life’ so much easier. In Europe, you can find traffic lights only on your side of the street, which sometimes makes checking the light quite difficult. Seeing the lights on the other side in California makes it so easy and natural.
    Hint: at every intersection, you can turn right at the red light unless you see the sign telling you another way. It is similar to European green arrow.

  • Parking
  • Keep facing the flow of traffic. California law forbids parking against the flow of traffic. The vehicle must face the direction of the flow of traffic which means that parking on the opposite side of the street requires turning around.
    Due to uphill nature of the state, it is advised to curb tires on hills. Headed downhill, we should turn front wheels into the curb or toward the side of the road. Headed uphill, we should turn front wheels away from the curb and let your vehicle roll back a few inches. This prevents rolling the vehicle into the traffic in case of the brake failure.

  • Priority
  • Many intersections are marked as “all way”. For us Europeans, it’s quite an interesting solution in which according to law no one holds priority. At such intersections drivers, vehicles usually have the right-of-way to proceed through the intersection in the order that they arrived at the intersection. And that works really smooth.

  • Refuelling the car
  • Coming to the gas station I wasn’t sure what kind of fuel should I choose. I tried to guess by listening to the sounds of the engine but I needed to be sure. I couldn’t find it in any documents or nowhere on the car. I decided to ask guy fueling the car beside me. His name was Phil and he was just amused by my question. Phil was certain that I should choose petrol. Why? ‘For heaven’s sake, you’re trying to fuel Dodge, right?!’ Ok, he must be right, I thought. Assured and happy as I could be at that moment I grabbed the nozzle and started to press. I pressed and pressed and nothing happened. I kept trying for a good few minutes when finally gas station employee couldn’t bear it anymore. He runs out shouting and instructed me to pay first! Everything became clear to me then as previously in Italy I’ve seen the similar solution. Well, no points of brilliance for me here…

    Watch me speeding in Dodge in the USA vlog:

    Brought to you by: Przemyslaw

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