San Francisco Pedestrian Wind Criteria

The San Francisco Wind Comfort Criteria is a standard used in the San Francisco Planning Code to assess wind impacts on pedestrian safety and comfort. In general, strong winds result in decreased pedestrian comfort – especially for more passive activities such as sitting – and may even pose a safety risk. 

The San Francisco Criteria determines the wind speed threshold for the Safety Criterion based on a true hourly average wind speed. 

Wind speed thresholds for its Comfort Criteria, however, are based on an equivalent wind speed, given by the following equation:

The wind speed threshold for the safety criterion, however, is based on a true hourly average wind speed. 

Per the Planning Code, equivalent wind speeds for the comfort criteria may not exceed the specified threshold more than 10% of the time (between 07:00 and 18:00). True average wind speeds for the safety criterion may not reach or exceed the threshold more than 0.01% of the time (just 1 hour per year). These criteria are described in the table below:

Location Description Equivalent Wind Speed (mph) Equivalent Wind Speed (kph) Equivalent Wind Speed (m/s)
Public Seating Areas Calm or light winds acceptable for activities where pedestrians will be seated (e.g., reading, outdoor dining) ≤ 7 ≤ 11 ≤ 3
Heavy Pedestrian Use Areas Modest winds acceptable for active pedestrian activities (e.g., window-shopping, walking, cycling) ≤ 11 ≤ 18 ≤ 5
Safety Criterion Description Average Wind Speed (mph) Average Wind Speed (kph) Average Wind Speed (m/s)
Hazardous to Pedestrians Very strong winds which severely impact pedestrian comfort and safety. Mitigation is usually required. ≥ 36 ≥ 42 ≥ 11.5

Analysis Criteria – Supplemental Information

  • Hours of the Day (Comfort): 07:00 – 18:00
  • Hours of the Day (Safety): All
  • Seasons: All
  • Allowed Exceedance (Comfort): 10%
  • Allowed Exceedance (Safety): 0.01%

Want to speak to an Expert Wind Consultant?

Schedule a one-hour consultation session with an expert from RWDI to explore potential mitigation strategies and gain insights in the event the wind speeds at your site deviate from the intended activity.

Please reach out to your Account Manager or email to book your session today!