Tuesday, July 05, 2022

The World's Crookedest Street

Driving up Lombard Street

Both Lombard Street, San Francisco and Snake Alley, Burlington, Iowa have at various times been announced as the bendiest, least straight roads in the world. It is debatable whether either road can truly claim to be the crookedest street in America, let alone the world. However we can perhaps settle the argument over whether Lombard Street is less straight than Snake Alley or whether Snake Alley is actually more crooked than Lombard Street.

Snake Alley is 292 feet long

Using FreeMapTools to measure the length of each street (as the crow flies) I calculate that Snake Alley is 292 feet long and Lombard Street is 466 feet long (measuring only the bendy intersection between Hyde St & Leavenworth St). Snake Alley has 5 switchbacks, so has 1 switchback for every 58.4 feet. Lombard Street has 8 switchbacks, so 1 switchback for every 58.25 feet. There really isn't much in it but using this very crude method of calculation Lombard Street is just a little bit more crooked than Snake Alley.

Unfortunately neither Lombard Street or Snake Alley are measured on Curvature, which uses a more sophisticated method of measuring the relative straightness of different roads. 

Curvature color-codes the world's roads based on how many curves they have. The amount of curvature of individual roads is determined using OpenStreetMap data. Individual roads are divided into sections and the radius of curvature at every segment of road is calculated. To get a final curvature score the lengths of the most curvy segments on a road are then added together.

Unfortunately there is no score for either Lombard Street or Snake Alley.

Street View Animations

I created the Street View animation of Lombard Street at the top of this post using Map Channels' Team Maps. Using Team Maps it is very easy to create a Street View animation for any route. On Team Maps you just need to create a map with an empty feed. In the map editor you can then use the 'route drawing tool' to create a route. Once you have saved your route you can then press the 'play' button to follow the route on Google Maps Street View. If you get stuck you can follow this Team Maps tutorial on YouTube

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