40th anniversary of San Francisco’s first bike lanes – on Lake Street

Neighbors celebrate the city’s first bike lanes, installed on Lake Street
on May 23, 1971. Photo courtesy of Ann Diaz via sfbike

Streetsblog had a great article yesterday about the 40th anniversary of the first official bike lanes that were painted in San Francisco.

The first ones were installed right here in the neighborhood on Lake Street, from what looks like 3rd Avenue out to 25th Avenue (1971 SF bike route map).

The photos in the article were from the grand opening celebration, which took place on May 23, 1971. As Streetsblog points out, you don’t see many bike helmets on riders:

Old photos of the celebration recently turned over to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition show groups of happy bicyclists in their everyday attire. Men, women and children on foot and in strollers can be seen playing in the street, along with a marching band. As one bike advocate noted, “sousaphones outnumbered helmets.” That’s because bicycle helmets didn’t exist. The weather forecast for that day was typical: fair skies except low clouds along the coast.

Read the full article & see more pics at Streetsblog San Francisco

Sarah B.

Photo by Ann Diaz, via sfbike

Photo by Ann Diaz, via sfbike


  1. I live on Lake St., and it is eye opening to see the amount of growth of the trees from 40 years ago. The street is now a beautiful tree lined canopy. Cheers to those tree planting pioneers, and cheers to Lake St.!

  2. Not only no helmets, no fleece! And the street trees have grown so beautifully in the interval. Thanks for the post.

  3. Could someone please explain to me why joggers use the bike lane on Lake Street?

    Joggers, you are putting cyclists at risk of autos when they have to suddenly maneuver to avoid you (and your strollers and dogs in many cases) and into traffic lanes.

    This then puts autos at risk of each other if they need to suddenly maneuver to avoid cyclists.

    Clearly you haven’t considered the risk you put onto OTHERS because you don’t seem to consider the risk you’re taking onto yourselves (and your babies and dogs) by running IN THE ROAD and interfering with vehicle traffic (autos and bicycles.)

    Why in the world do you not utilize the sidewalk which is clear and safe and just for you?

  4. In response to Jeffrey….
    As a cyclist and a runner I see no problem with running in the bike lane. As a cyclist, I find it strange that you can not share the road, which many cyclists want to do with autos. Often times running on the sidewalk is like going through an obsticle course, dodging parked cars in driveways, walkers, strollers, babies, trees, the up and down curbs. Again, if anyone should know the importance of sharing the road it is a cyclist

  5. The asphalt road is softer on the bones than the concrete sidewalks.

  6. Looks like the good old days, before cycling became political. SFBC and Chris Carlsson be damned!

  7. sflonglegs,

    You’re speaking at me assuming I’m a cyclist. My comment was not written as a cyclist, it was written as a user of Lake Street that sees potentially dangerous situations that can be avoided 100% by pedestrians using the proper channels of locomotion – the sidewalks. My comments is not about autos vs cars, it’s about pedestrians reducing potential impacts on the roadways.

    The concept behind “Share the road” is not that everyone deserves to use roadways as they want to suit their own desire. The concept is aimed at auto drivers, to raise awareness that bicycles, by law, are required to use roadways and follow traffic laws alongside autos. “Share the road” is a plea for drivers to recognize and understand that cyclists are trying to coexist safely with them because they have NO OTHER CHOICE.

    You find planted trees, parked cars and pedestrians moving a mile or 2 per hour a hazard to your safety or safe passage down a sidewalk? That’s simply ridiculous.

    Please consider the extent of damage, injury and impacts that collisions between moving vehicles (meaning bicycles and autos) can cause, consider the potential impact that bikes and autos are facing when put in situations to react to pedestrians (or any unpredictable obstacle) which does not belong in the roadway.

    Pedestrians by law can utilize roadways in designated crosswalks. When peds use bike lanes, they are putting not just themselves at risk of accidental collision, but also place higher impact damage and injury risk onto moving bicycles and autos who rightfully are not expecting pedestrians to be in the roadway.

  8. I like how lake street has a lot of trees (very relaxing) However I cannot stand the bikes on the street that pretend they are cars go to GG park where they close the street sat & sun.

  9. I agree with you big boy, It is a real nuisance with bikes on the road and it really is not necessary. It seems like just over the past few years it has really picked up and has become almost unbearable because they DO NOT FOLLOW THE RULES cars follow! for instance, they do not completely stop at stop signs and when turning right they are in the blind spot for cars, I almost hit a biker the other day because of this! In short, bikes should not be allowed on all streets and they need to follow simple stop and go rules.

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