Here's how to curb your wheels to ensure you park safely and legally on San Francisco's hills.

San Francisco’s hills give the city character and can provide a nice workout for walkers and bikers.

But SF’s hilly terrain often proves tricky for drivers, especially when it comes to parking.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to curb your wheels to ensure you park safely and legally on any hill across the city.

Note: This information was originally published by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA).

San Francisco Parking Tips: How to Curb Your Wheels

To prevent runaway vehicles, local law requires drivers to curb their wheels when parking on a grade greater than 3 percent (1.72 degrees).

Since most of us don’t carry a level to measure how steep a street is, it’s a good idea to make it a habit every time you parallel park.

Why Curbing Your Wheels Is Important

If your vehicle is hit, or if the transmission or parking brake fail, curbing will cause your car’s wheels to act as an additional safety defense.

In such a scenario, your car will roll into the curb, and not into people, traffic or other objects.

If you do not curb your wheels, you are subject to a fine.

How to Curb Your Wheels Safely and Legally

  • Whether you park your vehicle facing uphill or downhill, the rule of thumb is to turn your wheels so that the weight of the car will roll them towards the curb. If you’re not sure which way your car is sloped, set the car in neutral and see which way it rolls.
  • If you’re faced downhill, turn your front wheels towards the curb.
  • If you’re faced uphill, turn your front wheels away from the curb and let your vehicle roll back until it gently touches the curb.
  • If you park on a sloped driveway, turn your wheels so the vehicle will not roll into the street and, again, make sure to set your parking brake.

A related note: When parking parallel, your wheels must also be within 18 inches of the curb.

How to Figure Out the Street Grade

You can confirm the grade of your street by going to the Department of Public Works (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 street’s grade listed as a percent (%).

Learn More

For more San Francisco parking tips, check out the SFMTA’s new Streets of San Francisco Parking Guide (PDF).

It’s part of the SFMTA’s effort to make it easier for locals and visitors to understand and follow the rules of on-street parking.