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The Board of Supervisors, in their capacity as Commissioners of the Transportation Authority, on March 21 adopted the Lombard Street "Crooked Street" study. 

LOMBARD CROOKED STREET STUDY

Strategies for Managing Access to the "Crooked Street"

Download a copy of the Draft Final Report (6.6MB PDF)

LOMBARD CROOKED STREET STUDY FACT SHEET

Download the most recent Fact Sheet (1.4MB PDF)

PROJECT OVERVIEW

The view from Leavenworth, looking up at Lombard "Crooked Street"The Transportation Authority led a study on managing access to the “Crooked Street”—a residential segment of Lombard Street that is also one of San Francisco’s most prominent landmarks. The crooked segment of Lombard Street attracts approximately 2 million visitors each year.

The Study was recommended by Commissioner Mark Farrell as part of the Neighborhood Transportation Improvement Program (NTIP), established to fund community-based, neighborhood-scale planning efforts, especially in underserved neighborhoods and areas with vulnerable populations (e.g. seniors, children, and/or people with disabilities).

The Crooked Street, with its distinctive switchbacks, flowers, and vistas draws visitors from both around the world and locally. As overall tourism has increased in recent years, so has the number of tourists on the Crooked Street, and crowd control issues around the area have become more challenging.

Vehicle traffic on Lombard, descending from HydeThe purpose of the Lombard Study was to identify and evaluate a range of options to manage visitor access and circulation on Lombard Street between Hyde and Leavenworth streets, while maintaining the character of the block and avoiding spillover effects into adjacent streets. The Study’s approach included goal-setting, existing conditions analysis, alternatives development, public outreach, and evaluation.

Following on-site observations of traffic circulation in the area, traffic volume counts, intercept surveys, interviews with residents as well as community groups and businesses, coordination with agency partners, research, two public meetings and an online feedback form, the Transportation Authority completed the Lombard Study in February 2017.

The agency published the Lombard Crooked Street Final Report outlining recommended short- and mid-term strategies to inform future planning, analysis, and development to resolve the unique challenges facing the Crooked Street and its surrounding neighborhoods.

The report will be presented as an information item to the Transportation Authority's Citizens Advisory Committee on Feb. 22. That meeting starts at 6 p.m. at 1455 Market Street, 22nd floor, San Francisco. In March the Transportation Authority Board (comprised of the SF Board of Supervisors) will discuss the report and give direction on which recommendations merit further study. That meeting date has not yet been set.

See past Lombard Study outreach and timeline information.

STUDY GOALS

The Lombard Study focused on seven key project goals, including:

  • Managing pedestrian congestion
  • Managing auto congestion
  • Ensure traffic safety
  • Maintain access to the “Crooked Block”
  • Maintain livability of the surrounding neighborhood
  • Preserve tourism
  • Implement a financially-viable solution

Though different groups, including neighborhood residents, visitors, and tour industry professionals, may prioritize each of these goals differently, this study considered each of the goals to be on equal footing and analyzed prospective improvements against all seven.

STUDY RECOMMENDATIONS

The Transportation Authority compiled a wide range of potential interventions and improvements and evaluated how well each would meet one or more of the Study’s goals. A short list of options for further study were presented at two public meetings in the fall of 2016, accompanied by a feedback form that community members could respond to online and/or in person.

From these efforts, the Transportation Authority has recommended four strategies for further planning, analysis and development. These strategies, which can be implemented in the short- and mid-term, are explained below.

Improved Enforcement of Existing Regulations

Based on Transportation Authority’s outreach, it was clear there is widespread consensus among community members that more robust enforcement of existing regulations could help address perceived traffic circulation and safety issues on the Crooked Street. One strategy, which received considerable support in public feedback, would be to increase the number of SFMTA Parking Control Officers, expanding their hours of deployment and the locations they patrol. This strategy would build off the “eyes on the street” function played by neighborhood residents is currently supplemented by the Lombard Ambassadors managed by the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

Engagement of Tourism Industry as Partners in Visitor Management

Among the solutions identified is the creation of an education and marketing campaign/partnership with the San Francisco Travel Association (SF Travel), tour operators, rental car companies, and hotels. Since many tour operators bring groups to experience the Crooked Street, this effort is an opportunity to remind operators directly about how to be a good neighbor, in terms of tour group size, timing, and loading/unloading. By helping visitors make better informed decisions about when and how to access the Crooked Street, the education campaign could have a positive impact on automobile and pedestrian congestion, as well as resident and visitor access to the Crooked Street. In turn, traffic and personal safety could also improve.

Engineering and Signage Enhancements

Traffic engineering interventions—such as painted or raised sidewalk extensions, barriers, or wayfinding signage—could help to address conflicts and near-misses between pedestrians, drivers, and transit. Additional opportunities for signage enhancements, could include estimated wait times for vehicles in the queue to drive down the Crooked Street, and encouragements for drivers to lock vehicles and to leave personal belongings out of sight when parking in the area.

Reservations and Pricing System for Vehicles: Admission Fee
with a Discount for Advanced Reservations

One of the most direct ways to manage automobile congestion, including the vehicle queues that form at peak periods, would be to use an electronic system to manage reservations for and price access to the Crooked Street. Much like museums limit the amount of tickets available at any given time for popular exhibits, and allow those who plan ahead to reserve a time in advance, this strategy would allow for the flow and demand of automobiles entering the Crooked Street to be regulated, reducing queue lengths.

An all-electronic system, supported by a website, mobile app, and on-street kiosks would enable reservations, payments, and user support without the need for a staffed, physical booth or toll gate onsite, thereby minimizing visual impact and operational cost. The primary goal of the system would be to manage demand while being self-sustaining, and prices and number of available reservation slots would be set per this goal. The assumptions, feasibility considerations, potential visitor experience, and additional studies needed to advance this solution are detailed below.

HOW AN ALL-ELECTRONIC RESERVATION SYSTEM COULD WORK

Before accessing the Crooked Street via automobile, visitors would go to a website, app, or kiosk to select a day and time (offered in 30–60 minute increments) to visit the street, registering with their license plate number. Visitors planning to use a rental car could reserve their spot and return to the reservation to update the license plate information once they have arrived and rented a vehicle.

Signage along the approaches to the Crooked Street would advise that reservations are required and provide the web address at which to make one, along with an indication of what the price will be for those who choose to continue without a reservation. The price for continuing without a reservation would likely be significantly higher than that of visiting with a reservation, to discourage this practice.

Since average capacity on the Crooked Street is about 220 vehicles per hour, this many or fewer slots would be available for reservation. Pre-reserving fewer slots would allow for those who arrive without a reservation while still maintaining a limited length queue to access the Crooked Street.

When a pre-registered vehicle enters the Crooked Street, automated cameras would read its license plate information and check it against the system database. If there is a match, the system would verify payment and the transaction is complete. If a non-preregistered vehicle enters the street, the system would recognize the need to charge and collect the higher non-reservation price. If the vehicle has a FasTrak or FasTrak account associated with its license plate, the system would charge the fee to the FasTrak account. Otherwise, the system would generate an invoice that would be mailed to the registered owner, much like the system in place at the Golden Gate Bridge. Unpaid invoices would be subject to fees and eventually license renewal holds by the DMV, much like unpaid tolls.

NECESSARY POLICY AND TECHNICAL FOLLOW-UPS

There are many questions that would need to be answered before a pricing system on the Crooked Street could be implemented.  The recommendation of this Study is to undertake additional preliminary design, review, and econometric analysis to address these questions.

On the policy side, additional work must determine what entity would govern and oversee the program, including setting the price to access the Crooked Street, as state legislation would be needed to authorize these activities.  The designated tolling entity would likely also be considered to serve as the overall management agency for the Crooked Street, which would lead other functions to manage the street as a tourist attraction.

Myriad technical and operational questions would also need to be answered and informed by further analysis, including demand and financial modeling, including what entities should lead planning, design, environmental review, construction, operation and maintenance of the system? A robust public and multi-agency engagement effort both locally and regionally must take place in order advance work on a system design and operations.

WHAT'S NEXT FOR LOMBARD

The Transportation Authority compiled a final report for the Lombard Crooked Street Study in February 2017 outlining recommended near and mid-term solutions for the area. Each of the recommended solutions involves very specific next steps and differing timelines and will need to be adopted by the Transportation Authority Board in order to move forward.

CONTACT US

For more information about this Study and the strategies recommended, call Andrew Heidel, Senior Transportation Planner at 415.522.4803 or send him an email. San Francisco County Transportation Authority, 1455 Market St., 22nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103.

PLANNING STUDY PARTNERS

Transportation Authority Commissioner Mark Farrell designated NTIP funding in 2015 to support the Lombard Street Access Study that was led by the Transportation Authority with support from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.


NTIP logo
Photo (top) courtesy Phil Whitehouse via flickr Commons; (bottom) courtesy Daniel via flickr Commons.