San Francisco Woman’s Rage at GoCar’s ‘Loud as a Truck’ 10 Year Nuisance


For more than 10 years, Donna Morrison has endured the “loud like a truck” engine noise from GoCar’s yellow touring van.

Tired of noisy engines and noisy GPS navigation, the 47-year-old Gough Street resident rumbled past her 131-year-old Victorian home.

Donna Morrison poses for a photo outside her home on Gough Street in San Francisco. Morrison’s home is located on a Go Car route, causing constant noise and disturbance on the street. | Juliana Yamada as standard

“You’re standing on the street and you’re talking and it’s as loud as a truck. You can’t talk on it,” Morrison said.

Cities can’t change the routes of vehicles, or silence them, because they’re not regulated by the San Francisco Department of Transportation or Caltrans.

The company is only regulated by the California DMV, which also has no authority to alter the company’s route or engine noise. Caltrans, SFMTA and DMV have been contacted for comment.

The DMV instructed The Standard to file a noise complaint with the police and has contacted the SFPD for comment.

“Very loud sound”

GoCar drivers also noticed the noisy engine. Tourist Adam Francisco and his wife Kira visited San Francisco from Oklahoma City to celebrate their third anniversary and rented a GoCar to drive around the city for three hours.

“We’re going to enjoy the tour, but it’s loud,” Francisco said, riding a GoCar out of the rental office on Beach Street.

Morrison argues that GoCar is not respecting the time and effort she put into restoring her historic home, instead profiting from the raucous cars eager to see the city’s historic buildings.

“We do a lot of work to protect our communities, and I think companies will take advantage of that,” Morrison said.

GoCar rents three-wheeled vehicles that are classified as motorcycles by the DMV. Riders can navigate a planned route guided by a GPS system, which plays a recorded tour guide on speakers of areas of interest as the buggy passes by.

Drivers can go wherever they want in their cars — they’re not self-driving — but usually follow a tour’s pre-set route, which runs through residential Gough Street.

A Go Car customer leaves a Go Car parking lot in San Francisco. Go Car offers GPS tours of the city with various routes and time constraints. | Juliana Yamada as standard

“It was all done for us, pre-recorded,” said Phil Ellcock, who was on a two-week vacation with friends in San Francisco from Margate, England. “The beauty of it is that we’re going to see a guide, but ourselves, so we can stop and spend as much time as possible at each destination.”

“Noisier than any other scooter”

GoCar co-founder and co-owner Nathan Withrington admits that there are regular noise complaints about the off-road vehicles in the city, including along Lombard Street when the company was founded in 2004. But Withrington said the noise produced by GoCar vehicles is similar to that of other small-engine vehicles.

“We realize it can be annoying to have our vehicle drive past someone’s house, but I think ultimately you need to look at what the background noise is,” Withrington said. “They’re no louder than any other petrol-engined scooter in the city.”

Morrison said as many as 30 GoCars passed her street every day in the fall. Gough was already a busy street, but she said the carriages would drive in convoys and accelerate loudly as they passed her house uphill – a noise she said came from her thin windows.

“The houses have single-story windows, they’re Victorian, and there’s a lot of glass in the front,” Morrison said. “You hear the speaker, and it’s the same speech every time.”

Withrington can’t say how many cars he has driving along Gough, citing the ability of drivers to decide where to drive, but estimates they can drive 10 to 50 cars a day, depending on the amount of business they get.

Withrington added that the route has changed in the past in response to complaints about the car’s speaker and its 150cc engine.

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In 2006, the tour route passing the Palais des Beaux-Arts was diverted to Divisadero Street due to noise complaints. Withrington said changing routes is not expensive, but can impact the customer experience.

A small yellow GPS-guided GoCar or rentable tourer tries to navigate around a parked vehicle and two bicycles in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California, on August 22, 2021.Gado/Getty Images

“It’s more about the customer experience,” Withrington said. “It’s not a crazy amount to move it from one block to another, it’s just making sure there’s a real, valid reason to move it.”

Morrison advised GoCar to change routes every few years to keep Victorian owners on Gough Street away from the hustle and bustle, but noted that other nearby streets also had Victorians.

“[A route change] It can be done. “In two to three years, we’re going to be electrified anyway.” “

For Morrison, that might be enough.

“They were noisy and that was my problem,” Morrison said. “If it’s quiet, yes, I’m not against tourists enjoying the city – that’s our lifeblood.”

new law

For others annoyed by vehicle noise, there is hope, as a new law Sitting at Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk limits the loud noise from the engine.

bill AB2496 The deadline to sign the law is September 30 and limit motorcycle noise output to 96 decibels. If signed, it will go into effect on December 30. According to the DMV, GoCar’s gasoline-powered vehicles are considered motorcycles.

Wellington said he wasn’t sure if the law, if passed, would affect his vehicle.


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