World's steepest street claims a life.
February 28, 2001 4:16 PM   Subscribe

World's steepest street claims a life. 'What appears as a young couple out to have a bit of fun with a wheelie-bin has ended in tragedy.'
posted by rory (22 comments total)
Surprised that the world's steepest street isn't in, say, San Francisco? I was skeptical about Baldwin Street too... until I saw it.
posted by rory at 4:17 PM on February 28, 2001

Let's try World's steepest street claims a life.

Is a wheelie bin a trash can? Doesn't sound like a fun trick to me.
posted by OneBallJay at 4:19 PM on February 28, 2001

Yes, it's a trash can. One of those tall green plastic ones with a hinged lid and two wheels on its base.

Not fun, no. Incredibly scary, yes. Baldwin Street is very, very steep.
posted by rory at 4:25 PM on February 28, 2001

OK, I have done this (in a supermarket trolley). It is fun. Quite probably they were drunk. There are all kinds of warning signs - people go down the hill regularly though.

It is the world's steepest street but, like most things, it wins on a technicality. Many paved unofficial roads are steeper.

I'm not sure what they mean by a wheelie bin. An upright usually dark green bin with wheels on one side? If I were to guess I would say they mean a supermarket trolley.

[read a little more on Stuff]
posted by holloway at 4:43 PM on February 28, 2001

38º!!! Damn that is a steep street! I don't know the geography, but wouldn't it make more sense to tunnel through something like that? I can't imagine.. wait. I was looking at a 30-60-90º angle from the 60º POV when I typed that. Still, 38º is butch. Must have been scary when it sped out of control. I've lain on my skateboard and been clocked at over 40 mph on a hill nowhere near that deep.
posted by thirteen at 4:46 PM on February 28, 2001

Heh we have a few steep ones here in SF, but that one probably beats em.

Shouldn't this be "stupidity claims a life"? Or at least, "intoxication takes a life" which would be a fairly regular event. Come to think of it the stupidity is pretty common too. Anyways, don't blame the damn street.
posted by swank6 at 5:02 PM on February 28, 2001

Definitely should win her a nomination for one of these.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 5:15 PM on February 28, 2001

Photos of the street: 1, 2, 3. They were probably stupid scarfies.
posted by holloway at 5:15 PM on February 28, 2001

Yeesh, it looks like an olympic ski jump!

Still, this is a tragedy - a 19 year old couple did something a bit silly, and they paid a terrible price. I don't think they ought to be labeled as stupid 'scarfies' (though I've no idea what a scarfie is).
posted by aladfar at 5:22 PM on February 28, 2001

don't blame the damn street

Hey, I was being tactful. I didn't label her a potential Darwin Awards nominee - even though that was the first thought that crossed my mind - because my second thought was that she only died yesterday, and somebody out there is mourning a daughter who, as aladfar said, did something a bit silly and paid a terrible price. (But I still thought that last line about 'a bit of fun with a wheelie-bin' was amusing.)

Besides, why not blame the damn street? It's a stupid bloody incline to build a street on. It just encourages this sort of foolhardiness.

If I were to guess I would say they mean a supermarket trolley.

Well, that story you linked, holloway, does clearly say 'plastic wheelie-bin', which I'd say is pretty unambiguous.
posted by rory at 6:35 PM on February 28, 2001

Friday on Fox: "When Wheelie-bins Attack"
posted by Optamystic at 8:26 PM on February 28, 2001

Actually, there's a street about one hundred yards from my position right now that is both steeper and descends longer than the one shown in those photographs. (Maybe no one submitted it to the record book? It is an official, paved road.)

A couple of years ago, a fire engine lost its brakes on that road, came to the end (there's always an end), and crashed through some trees. The firefighter who was driving *may* have been drinking and was, most certainly, deceased when he was found later.

I used to descend that on my road bike and worry about whether my brakes would melt on the descent. Whew!
posted by Kikkoman at 8:50 PM on February 28, 2001

Rory: Yeah, you're right. I was just confused at how anyone could pick up speed in something that only has wheels on one side (and not the front).

NZoom on the crash - with a picture of the type of bin.

"Police say alcohol was a factor."
posted by holloway at 9:55 PM on February 28, 2001

As an ex-Scarfie (did a year in Dunedin at Uni, living in the North-East Valley - about five minutes walk from this street), I'm surprised it didn't happen earlier. There's quite a big drinking culture at Otago University, and Baldwin St isn't too much of a walk... Thinking about it, it's the start of the academic year in NZ, so I'd imagine that a fair amount of Orientation booze was playing a part. And the wheelie bins are just sitting out on the street.
Hell, in my day we just used to try and run up Baldwin St while drunk. Made us what we are today.

posted by jackelder at 4:01 AM on March 1, 2001

In case you live in, or have visited the San Francisco area, here are some streets for comparison. It seems Filbert and 22nd Street are the steepest with a 31.5% gradient.
posted by jdiaz at 8:28 AM on March 1, 2001

my brain's having a hard time grasping "percent" vs "degrees".
posted by Sapphireblue at 9:28 AM on March 1, 2001

It kind of cracks me up how people reacted to this story. "Two people dead, huh? Yawn. They're stupid. But dude, check out that crazy street!"

Yes, I reacted exactly the same way. You could do some bad-ass sledding on that street!
posted by Skot at 9:34 AM on March 1, 2001

Er . . . one person dead. Me read good.
posted by Skot at 9:41 AM on March 1, 2001

I think, and my math may be wrong, that 31.5% equates to 28.35 degrees.

100% being 90d, 1% = 0.9, 31.5 *0.9 = 28.35. (is that right?)

So 38.5d = 42.7%, pretty damn steep!

posted by zeoslap at 10:04 AM on March 1, 2001

Sorry, I read the original story in gradient percent and not degrees. My architecture schooling rears its ugly head. Gradient(%) = Rise / Run, so 100% gradient is 90 degrees. zeoslap's calculation is correct, and that road *is* pretty damn steep.
posted by jdiaz at 10:40 AM on March 1, 2001

Gravity kills.

Very, very sad.

Reminds of when I saw Faces of Death, how it reminded me that in our modern society, we think death is at a far distance from us, when in reality it's closer than we think - just one mistake away.

And when drinking is involved, it gets much, much closer.

When I was in high school, I was with a friend of mine sledding on a steep hill (at the bottom of a ski area) at night. She and I went down a few times, and she teased me about bailing out too early (I was a total chicken, admittedly).

Later, she went on the sled with another friend. They stayed on all the way down.

They smashed into the thick wooden crossbar of a fence at the bottom. Her friend broke his arm, and she ended up with a broken jaw (which then had to be wired shut for six weeks) and several fractures around her eye socket (which had to be secured with permanent screws).

She was lucky. She could easily have ended up dead, or severely brain-damaged.

posted by beth at 12:34 PM on March 1, 2001

And if anyone in the UK wants to attempt such a trick, try any of the roads off of Old Lodge Lane in Purley, nr. Croydon. I forget their names, but they aren't too far short of that street in NZ.
posted by wackybrit at 5:15 PM on March 1, 2001

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