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Should you walk in front or behind a car?

How to Park Legally in San Francisco

We at the SFMTA want to help everyone in San Francisco park legally, and we know that reading the signs is half the battle. Follow these additional tips to be sure you won’t be hit with a ticket:

72 Hour Maximum

In the absence of other posted restrictions, such as residential parking permit (RPP) zones, street sweeping, meters or posted time limits, a regular-sized passenger vehicle or motorcycle is allowed to park in one spot for up to 72 hours without being cited for overtime parking. Vehicles parked beyond the maximum 72 hour limit may be issued a warning in the form of a Marking Notice affixed to the vehicle’s windshield, and one or more of its wheels may be marked at the same time. Having a current (or temporary) RPP decal for the same RPP zone, or a displayed DP placard, does not provide an exemption from this overtime restriction.

To avoid being cited for being parked overtime or to avoid being cited and towed, the vehicle must be moved to another location such as around the corner, across the street or into the next block. You should not simply drive around and return to the same parking spot.

If you do not return to move the marked vehicle by the date and time listed on the Marking Notice, the vehicle may be towed for being parked overtime when the SFMTA enforcement officer returns to its previously marked location. A Marking Notice found missing on the overtime vehicle does not affect the enforcement officer’s authority to tow when the officer returns to the marked location.

This overtime parking restriction is generally enforced by the SFMTA as a result of one or more initial complaints from residents who have concerns about vehicles being stored or abandoned in their neighborhoods. The SFMTA requests that residents wait for approximately 72 hours before complaining about a stored or abandoned vehicle—a policy that tends to help prevent harassment or abuses of the overtime parking program. However, there is no 72 hour (or 3-day) waiting period before a 72 Hour Marking Notice may legally be affixed to the vehicle that is identified by a resident’s complaint.

Vehicles found parked on public streets without current DMV registration (i.e., more than six months out of reg., and without a current Dealer’s Notice of Sale or paper plate), or that are parked in a hazardous location that obstructs traffic or access to one or more driveways, or that are obviously disabled and inoperable—may be cited and towed immediately, whether or not they have been issued a 72 Hour Marking Notice.

Car Parked Less Than 18 Inches From Curb | May 22, 2013

18 Inches from the Curb

When parking parallel (with the side of your car against the curb), make sure your wheels are within 18 inches of the curb.

Parking on Street With Flow of Traffic | May 22, 2013

Face the Flow of Traffic

Don’t park against the flow of traffic. Your vehicle must face in the direction of the flow of traffic, even if it is otherwise parked legally.

Car Parked on Hill with Wheels Curbed | May 20, 2013

Curb Your Tires on Hills

When you park (3% grade or more) angle your front wheels so if your vehicle were hit or its brakes were to fail, it would roll into the curb and not into traffic.

  • On a sloping driveway, turn the wheels so the vehicle will not roll into the street. Set your parking brake.
  • Headed downhill, turn your front wheels into the curb or toward the side of the road. Set your parking brake.
  • Headed uphill, turn your front wheels away from the curb and let your vehicle roll back a few inches. The wheel should gently touch the curb. Set your parking brake.
  • Headed either uphill or downhill when there is no curb, turn the wheels so the vehicle will roll away from the center of the road if your brakes fail.
  • Always set your parking brake and leave the vehicle in gear or in “park” or “P” position.
What type of intelligence do pilots have?

You can confirm the grade of your street by going to the Department of Public Works (DPW) Street Grade Map. DPW Street Grade Map

Car Parked With Room For Driveway

Check Your Bumpers

Check your front and rear bumpers to make sure they are not extending into a driveway, crosswalk or color zone.

No Parking Sign on Street Corner | May 22, 2013

Check for Signs

Always check for posted parking and street sweeping times. Look 100 feet in both directions for any sign. Please call 311 to report any defaced, deficient or missing parking signs.

Permit Zone Parking Sign | May 22, 2013

Don’t Park in the Same Place in Permit Areas

In permit areas you must move your vehicle after the posted time limit (typically 1 to 2 hours) if you don’t have a permit. The law requires you to move one block away or at least one-tenth (1/10) of a mile—about 500 feet. Do not drive around and then park in the same block, or you can be ticketed!

Need a permit? A, Z, or any letter in between, here’s the information on Residential Parking Permits

Rush Hour Tow Away Zone Sign | May 22, 2013

Parking is Allowed After Sweeping

Sweeping the streets keeps them clean, and street sweeping citations discourage vehicle owners from blocking the street sweeping truck’s path. Once the street sweeping truck has swept the curbside, you may park your vehicle there, even if the posted sweeping hours have not expired.

Watch for Tow-Away Zones

Some parking zones become tow-away zones during commute hours. Check the meter face and posted signs for tow-away restrictions.

Driveways, Sidewalks and Crosswalks


  • Do not block driveways or crosswalks. A driveway begins at the «curb cut,» where the curb begins to slope downward toward street level. Residents can park in front of their own driveways if the building the driveway serves has 1-2 units and the vehicle’s license plate is registered to the building’s address (a permit is not required). However, it is illegal to park in any marked or unmarked crosswalks. Never block disabled curb ramps located inside or adjacent to crosswalks.
  • Do not park on sidewalks. A sidewalk citation can be given even if the pedestrian travel path is partly clear or if the vehicle is parked across a driveway. This includes motorcycles and bicycles that impede pedestrian paths.
  • Curb wheels when parking on a hill of any perceptible grade. When parking facing uphill, turn the steering wheel toward the street. When parking facing downhill street, turn steering wheel toward the sidewalk. We also recommend parking letting your vehicle wheels rest against the curb to keep it from rolling.

Give Driveway Owners Space to Get In and Out

A driveway begins at the top of the sloped edges, or the “curb cut.” Some driveways may have red tips—red curb coloring on the curb cuts and space adjacent to it. Parking in the red tip or within the cut curbs may result in your vehicle being cited and/or towed.

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Park In Your Own Driveway

  • You may park in your own driveway as long as no portion of your vehicle extends over the sidewalk or into the required setback.
  • So please do not park on the sidewalk or within the required setback. San Francisco’s Planning Department provides more information, including a list of common planning code violations. San Francisco Planning Code Violations
  • You can confirm the width of your sidewalk by going to the San Francisco Public Works (DPW) Street Grade Map. DPW Street Grade Map
    • Follow DPW’s instructions by entering the street name, limits/(cross street), keymap number, block number or block lot number.
    • Press search.
    • Under «Key Map Results» click on «grade».
    • Allow your browser to open the map.
    • On the map you will find your sidewalk’s width numerically listed in feet along with the symbol for feet (‘). As an example 15’ represents 15 feet.
    • For further answers please contact DPW at: (415) 554-6920

    Car Parked Away From Crosswalk | May 20, 2013

    Watch for Crosswalks

    It is illegal to park in any marked or unmarked crosswalks. Never block curb ramps located inside or adjacent to crosswalks. Leave at least three (3) feet of space between a curb ramp and your vehicle.

    Handicapped Placard on Mirror | May 21, 2013

    Disabled Placards

    With a properly displayed disabled placard or disabled license plate (including one issued by a different state or country) you may park in any of the following zones, so long as the person to whom the placard is issued is being transported:

    • Blue zones
    • General metered parking zones without paying
    • Green zones
    • Residential Permit Parking areas
    • Areas with posted time limits (e.g. a one-hour zone in a business district)

    However, a disabled placard does not allow you to park in the following times or places:

    • No-parking, no-stopping or other red zones
    • During street-cleaning hours
    • During posted commercial loading hours (look for signs, yellow curb, or yellow or red meters)
    • During posted passenger loading hours (look for signs or white curb)
    • During posted commuter tow-away hours (check for tow-away signs within 100 feet in both directions of a parking space)
    • For more than 72 hours in any space.

    A disabled placard does NOT exempt the vehicle from all other citation and/or tow-away rules and restrictions.


    • In areas with time limits, do not park in the same spot or on the same side of the street. After you move your car, we recommend parking on another block. The law requires you to move one block away or at least one-tenth of a mile from your vehicle’s first recorded parking position. This will ensure the parking enforcement officer does not ticket you for disobeying the time limit.
    • Always check for parking and street sweeping signs. Look 100 feet in both directions for any parking signs and check the curb to see if there are any color curb markings. During street sweeping hours, you may not park until the street has been physically swept. Please call 311 to report any defaced, deficient or missing parking signs.


    Some parking practices are perfectly legal, just not very nice. You may not get a ticket for parking bumper-to-bumper, but you can be kind to your neighbors by using these rules of thumb:

    • Don’t let your bumpers touch. Leave at least 18 inches of space between cars when parking parallel so that your neighbors can access their trunks, or drive away without having to bump into your vehicle.
    • Report faded curb colors. Where the curb has faded, vehicles will not be cited for curb color violations. Help us keep the colors bright and up to date by calling 311.
    • Maximize availability. In areas where there are not spaces marked by painted lines, pull as close to the vehicles in front or behind you as possible while leaving enough space for them to exit.

    How You Can Help

    Give Others Room to Park

    Street Parking on Duboce Avenue | May 21, 2013

    Maximize availability. In areas where there are not spaces marked by painted lines, pull as close to the vehicles in front or behind you as possible while leaving enough space (18 inches) for them to exit. Irregular space between parked cars may be caused by motorcycles and small vehicles.

    Report Broken Meters and Faded Curbs

    Where the curb has faded so badly as to be difficult to determine the curb color, it will not be enforced for curb color violations. And while you may only park at a broken meter for the posted time limit or four hours, whichever is shorter, functioning meters guarantee better parking availability for everyone. Help us keep meters working and curb colors bright and up to date by calling 311. By calling 311 you’ll create a record so that the curb or meter will be evaluated.

    «HOW DO I. «

    Simply dial 311 in order to:

    • Report a malfunctioning parking meter.
    • Request a faded color curb be repainted.
    • Give feedback about the conduct of a parking enforcement officer.
    • Ask any question about parking enforcement, bar none.
    • Make any request. We are here to serve you!

    Pedestrian Safety

    At some point in the day, everyone is a pedestrian. Unfortunately, pedestrian injuries and fatalities remain high. In 2020, 6,516 pedestrians were killed and an estimated 55,000 pedestrians were injured nationwide. NHTSA raises awareness of the dangers to pedestrians and provides tips to keep pedestrians safe.

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    Pedestrians killed in traffic crashes in 2020

    How Walkable Is Your Community?

    Pedestrian Safety The Topic NHTSA In Action Resources
    Pedestrian Safety

    • The Topic
      • Pedestrians
      • Safety Advocates

      The Topic


      Everyone Is a Pedestrian

      81 A pedestrian was killed every 81 minutes in traffic crashes in 2020

      Everyone has different preferences when it comes to transportation, but at one time or another everyone is a pedestrian.

      When drivers maintain safe speeds and practice other safe driving behaviors, safer walking environments are created for you, your loved ones and others in your community.

      Driving Safely
      Watch the video

      Know the Basics—Pedestrian Safety

      8 Safety Tips for Drivers

      1. Look out for pedestrians everywhere, at all times.
      2. Use extra caution when driving in hard-to-see conditions, such as nighttime or bad weather.
      3. Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk.
      4. Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and stop well back from the crosswalk to give other vehicles an opportunity to see the crossing pedestrians so they can stop too.
      5. Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing where you can’t see.
      6. Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
      7. Follow the speed limit, especially around people on the street, in school zones and in neighborhoods where children are present.
      8. Be extra cautious when backing up and look for pedestrians.

      Related Topic

      8 Walking Safety Tips

      1. Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
      2. Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.
      3. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
      4. Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections. Look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right.
      5. If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safely; continue watching for traffic as you cross.
      6. Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots.
      7. Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and your judgment.
      8. Embrace walking as a healthy form of transportation — get up, get out and get moving.

      Pedestrian Bystander Care
      Watch the video

      Finding and Creating Walkable Communities

      • Resident’s Guide for Creating Safe and Walkable Communities
        Want to improve the walkability of your neighborhood? Learn from the examples of other communities working to improve pedestrian safety.
      • Walkability Checklist – English (PDF, 237.66 KB) | Spanish (PDF, 879.65 KB) | Asian Languages
        How walkable is your community? Take a walk with your child and find out for yourselves.

      Keeping Your Kids Safe While They Walk

      • Prevent Pedestrian Crashes: Parents and Caregivers of Elementary School Children (PDF, 165.61 KB)
        Elementary school children are very active and impulsive. Although they’re learning and growing, school-age children 10 and younger still need guidance and supervision when playing and walking near traffic.
      • Five Tips to Keep Your Children Safe on Their Way to and from School
        Strengthen your traffic safety knowledge: Teach and reinforce your children’s pedestrian safety habits.
      • A Kid’s Guide to Safe Walking (PDF, 3.04 MB)
        This colorful pamphlet will help you teach young children safety tips for crossing the street and things to remember when walking.
      • Tips for Preteens & Teens: Prevent Pedestrian Crashes (PDF, 3.30 MB)
        Remind your preteens and teens that walking around traffic requires the same critical thinking skills as riding a bike or driving a car: Stop, look left-right-left, be safe and be seen.

      Walking Safely and Staying Fit as You Age

      • Stepping Out as an Older Adult — Be Healthy, Walk Safely
        Share this resource with your aging parents to help them maintain their safety while walking for exercise or running errands.

      The Topic

      Safety Advocates

      If you’re an advocate of pedestrian safety, or perhaps you work on a State or local pedestrian program, our curriculum and resources will equip you with the tools and information you need to effectively promote pedestrian safety.

      • Pedestrian Resource Guide
        Developed for National Pedestrian Safety Month, this guide discusses how a safe transportation system prioritizes people.
      • Accessible Pathways & Livable Communities Pocket Guide
        Pocket guide containing pathway accessibility and livability concepts for communities to consider (from Easter Seals).
      • Checklist for Assessing the Accessibility of Transportation and Mobility
        Introduction and instructions on using a checklist to assess the accessibility of a transit route, including the path of travel (from Easter Seals).
      • Child Pedestrian Safety Curriculum
        Lesson plans, assessment guides and student response forms to teach and encourage pedestrian safety to children in kindergarten through 5th grade.
      • ESL Teacher’s Guide and Student Workbook: Walk and Bike Safely
        ESL guide and workbook to teach and encourage pedestrian and bike safety to adult immigrant students who are beginning English language learners.
      • Neighborhood Wayfinding Assessment Pocket Guide
        Guide and checklist to help you find your way in your community (from Easter Seals).
      • Pedestrian Safer Journey – Skills for Safe Walking for Ages 5 to 18
        Interactive training package for children in elementary through high school to develop skills for safe walking.
      • Pedestrian Safety Workshop: A Focus on Older Adults (PDF, 3.54 MB) and Instructor Guide (PDF, 3.54 MB)
        Presentation and guide for teaching older adults what they can do to increase their safety as pedestrians during this three-hour workshop.
      • Tips for Preteens & Teens: Prevent Pedestrian Crashes (PDF, 3.30 MB)
        Walking around traffic requires the same critical thinking skills as riding your bike and driving a car. Apply the same walking skills you learned as a kid: stop, look left-right-left for traffic and be safe, be seen. Use these skills when you walk, and encourage others to do the same.
      • Traffic Safety Facts–Pedestrians
        Yearly statistics on pedestrian traffic fatalities.
      • Traffic Safety Facts–Children
        Yearly statistics on traffic fatalities involving children.
      • Walkability Checklist – English (PDF, 237.66 KB) | Spanish (PDF, 879.65 KB) | Asian Languages
        Criteria to help you decide whether a neighborhood is a friendly place to walk.

      Visit FHWA’s pedestrian web pages for additional information.

      NHTSA In Action

      NHTSA is dedicated to promoting safe behaviors on our nation’s roads

      NHTSA’s pedestrian safety programs focus on the safe system approach, which has five main components:

      • Safe People: Encourage safe, responsible behavior by people who use our roads, and create conditions that prioritize their ability to reach their destination unharmed.
      • Safe Speeds: Promote safer speeds in all roadway environments through a combination of thoughtful, targeted, context-appropriate outreach campaigns, as well as judicious enforcement.
      • Safe Roads: To encourage safer behaviors, and to facilitate safe travel by the most vulnerable users, design roadway environments to accommodate human mistakes and injury tolerances.
      • Safe Vehicles: Expand the availability of vehicle designs and features that help to prevent crashes and minimize the impact of crashes on both occupants and non-occupants.
      • Post-Crash Care: Enhance the survivability of people in crashes through expedient access to emergency medical care. Create a safe working environment for vital first responders and prevent secondary crashes through robust traffic incident management practices.

      NHTSA demonstrates its dedication to promoting safe pedestrian and motorist behavior through our educational material, leadership and expertise to communities across America. We also conduct public awareness campaigns, such as Everyone is a Pedestrian, raising awareness of the dangers to pedestrians.

      Please join us in reducing traffic safety risks to pedestrians and promoting programs and countermeasures to save the lives of all road users on our nation’s roadways.

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