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PUBLIC Interview With Ellen Bennett of Hedley & Bennett.

April 25th, 2014

Some of our customers are as passionate and detailed oriented about their products as we are about our bicycles. Ellen Bennett, founder of Hedley & Bennett, a chef’s apron manufacturer, is one of them. We interviewed the adorable Ellen last week:

PUBLIC: Tell us about your company and your products?
ELLEN: We’re an apron company that makes badass, functional and high quality aprons for chefs and restaurants all around the world.

PUBLIC: What inspires your creative work?
ELLEN: All the amazing, hardworking chefs we meet. We want to make them happy. We want to make them feel good about the way they look in the kitchen and feel inspired to be different and unique. We also love design and fun bright colors everywhere. Deep down, we’re all kids at heart and love to live life with the mentality that we can do anything!

PUBLIC: What details make your products unique?
We hand pick really beautiful, unique fabrics like salvage denims from Japan and Italy. We make all of our aprons comfortable and functional. We wear them, wash them and put them through the ringer to make sure they are durable enough for our chefs

PUBLIC: How did you come by your PUBLIC bike?
I saw a PUBLIC bike for the first time when my boyfriend Casey Caplowe, co-founder of GOOD Magazine, saw them and sent me a link. They were the most beautiful and clean looking bikes I had ever seen and I instantly wanted one.
Later that year I was in San Francisco walking around and I saw a sign for the PUBLIC bike shop. I ran into the store, picked the one I wanted and then took a picture and put it on Instagram saying “ I want it soooo bad !!”
Then in December Casey surprised me with the exact PUBLIC bike I had Instagramed from my San Francisco trip. First, he gave me a little box with a beautiful copper bell to put on the handle. And then the beautiful bike came out!

PUBLIC: How does bicycling fit into your lifestyle
My office is in Downtown LA so when I have meetings near by I will use it to zip on over and I will ALWAYS take it inside the buildings with me, riding it down the hallway and parking it in the meeting room. People compliment the bike all day long and it sits parked in the entrance of our office.

PUBLIC: How does your PUBLIC bike reflect your personal style?
I love big, bold, but clean design and this bike is exactly like that.

PUBLIC: Are bicycles an important part of the community you live in?
ELLEN: Definitely. LA is becoming such a green city, and with downtown being so close together, it’s easy to take the bike around town to restaurants and fabric shops around here.

PUBLIC: Any upcoming projects/partnerships/designs that you are excited about?
ELLEN: We are about to launch our amazing new chef coat line!

PUBLIC: Anything else you’d like to add?
We love you!!

PUBLIC Response: The feeling is mutual!


Photos courtesy of Hedley & Bennett and Life&Thyme.  

Our Upgraded Premium PUBLIC D8i

April 22nd, 2014

Our Best Keeps Getting Better 

2013 PUBLIC D8i Detail Images

Our PUBLIC D8i has undergone a spec and design overhaul and today we’re proud to announce the release of our revamped PUBLIC D8i that’s lighter, stronger and (feel free to quote us here) better looking then ever.

Working from the inside out, we upgraded to the premium Shimano Alfine 8-speed internal hub. Expect effortless shifting when moving or stopped and never worry about your derailleur getting bent out of shape.

On the outside, our PUBLIC D8i now boasts a 100% full chromoly frame, one-piece forged seat post and upgraded bottom bracket making it one of our lightest bikes. We gave the bike a more aggressive stem and adjusted the handlebars for a more refined, swept-back style.

We didn’t just upgrade the specs, we upgraded them stylishly. Our PUBLIC D8I now has all-black grips, tires and double-walled rims that contrast smartly with the high-polished alloy fenders. We recommend adding our slim back rack in matching polished silver or black and topping with one of our new panniers to solve all your load carrying needs. Upgrading to our premium Brooks saddle in black, aged brown or honey will take your ride to the next level of comfort and style.

Ride away on these sleek wheels today at the special introductory price of $899, list price is $1,249.

Be Seen (and heard!) With Our Flashy New Bells

April 22nd, 2014
Woodpecker Bell New Bells Incredibell Original Bell
New Bells Disco Bell New Bells
Public Bell New Bells Federico Red Brass Bell

Bells Are For Ringing

The simple bicycle bell is one of our favorite bike essentials. An often-overlooked accessory, a bell adds personality and safety to your ride. Easier than hollering and whistling to announce your presence, bells are a simple way of alerting bikers, pedestrians and cars of your approach. We have a new selection of bells for all styles of riders, from unique bells crafted of cherry wood to bells equipped with flashing disco LED lights. Visit our website to see (and hear!) our fun new bell collection.

Bikes are Up, Traffic is Down in San Francisco

April 15th, 2014

City Leaders and Bike Advocates on Bike to Work Day. Traffic on Bay Bridge.

Many of us accept punishing traffic situations on a daily basis. Traffic can seem as inevitable as having to file your taxes every April. But while we haven’t figured out a better solution for the 1040 form, traffic is a problem that can be solved. Cities all over the world are being reconfigured to be more pedestrian friendly, limiting car traffic by a number of means, with amazing results. The latest news from the SF Chronicle is that commuter traffic has improved all over San Francisco in the past couple years, with fewer cars on the streets and shorter waits at lights. How did San Francisco manage to reduce automobile congestion? We made our streets better for bikes.

According to the Chronicle, car traffic is improving because more residents and commuters are choosing bicycles and public transit, and leaving their cars at home. The number of people biking in San Francisco has doubled since 2006, thanks to the advocacy of the SF Bike Coalition; the city’s improvements in bike infrastructure like green bike lanes, signals, and parking; and bikes like ours that are designed to be easy for all kinds of people to ride.

The new Bay Area Bike Share is a good “last mile” solution for transit riders to get to their final destination, and regional commuter train BART now allows people to bring their own bikes on board during peak commuting hours (finally!). There are many other forces at work to help solve the traffic problems, such as charging more for parking, creating pedestrian zones and congestion pricing, but bikes are proving to provide the most simple and affordable solution.

These bike-positive changes are happening all over the country, from big cities like ChicagoDC and New York to small towns like Edinburg, Texas. And no matter where you live, it’s a movement you can be part of. Joining a state or local bike advocacy group like the California Bike Coalition is a great way to start. And of course, choosing to ride a bike or take transit instead of driving a car is the easiest way you can curb traffic in your city.


Better City Spaces. Why Should it take an Earthquake?

April 4th, 2014

Across the world, people are waking up to the reality that cities designed for people are far better places to live than cities designed for cars. A recent article by Alissa Walker, “6 Freeway Removals That Changed Their Cities Forever” brings this point home with its opening case study, the Ferry Building in San Francisco, a perfect example of citizens taking back public spaces that were previously dominated by cars.

Today the Ferry Building is home to world-class restaurants, a bustling farmers’ market, and one of the city’s crown jewel public plazas. 25 years ago it was a different story, few people even knew it existed. The towering Embarcadero Freeway filled with honking and polluting automobile traffic blocked the spectacular waterfront views. A deplorable state of affairs that might have persisted if the “design firm” of Loma Prieta and Associates* hadn’t come along.

The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake led to tragic loss of life and widespread destruction. After the tragedy, however, bloomed growth. The Embarcadero Freeway was destroyed beyond repair and instead of reverting to the status quo and simply rebuilding the freeway, enough forward-thinking city leaders championed and won the opportunity to transform the space into one of public revitalization—the vibrant and beautiful world-class marketplace we enjoy today.

Octavia Street, San Francisco. Before and After Central Freeway Teardown.

The Loma Prieta earthquake was also partially responsible for creating another terrific urban space in San Francisco, an oasis in the city along the Octavia Street corridor called Patricia’s Green after legendary urban activist Patricia Walkup. Stroll through Patricia’s Green on a Saturday fortified with a freshly whipped cone of Smitten ice-cream and consider that instead of the blue sky above, just over 10 years ago a concrete freeway would have been overhead. This gathering space in the middle of the thriving Hayes Valley neighborhood is where PUBLIC will be opening a new store this Spring.

San Francisco isn’t the only city making strides in reclaiming public space for the better. There are numerous examples of this all over the world. Naples, Italy, is a dense gritty city, yet when visiting there recently I found that their subways have become super clean art galleries.  In car-centric, freeway-focused, Los Angeles communities like Santa Monica are boldly converting streets to bike friendly corridors. New York City’s Highline, which we’ve written about before, is one of our favorite examples of reclaimed public space.

Call it Enlightened Urbanism, the Livable Cities Movement or just Common Sense, the fact is people are moving back to cities in record numbers and opting for an urban lifestyle where car travel isn’t daily and green space trumps the concrete-kind every time. We started PUBLIC as a way to contribute to this movement toward more livable cities, and we applaud all the countless others who are working toward these same goals. We’ve come a long way, but there’s still a long way to go. And we need your help to get there.

*There was of course no design firm lobbying to scrap the Embarcadero Freeway. Despite much public opposition local business fought to keep it in place.  The saga is a great read. We are fortunate that Mayor Art Agnos held his ground.

(For more on these issues, we recommend Jeff Speck’s book “Walkable City”, and Malcolm Gladwell’s talk “Place Matters” as two great places to start.)

Think The Unthinkable: Cities Without Cars

March 26th, 2014

CicLAvia 2013

It is not a stretch to conceive of a time — a few decades from now — when people look back on the 20th century and the onslaught of cars into our cities, and ask “what were they thinking?” After all, who would knowingly lay out cities to prioritize the rights of cars over the rights of people? Who would construct surface level parking lots over precious real estate and not put parking underground?

Fort Mason Parking Lot, San Francisco

Here is an example from my neighborhood, a swath of underutilized asphalt in San Francisco that looks out onto the gorgeous San Francisco Bay. This decision is almost as absurd as putting a prison—Alcatraz—on one of the most scenic islands in the world.

But making the world a better place for cars was pretty much what happened in most US cities in the 20th century, all fueled by low gasoline prices, and the “modern” belief that car mobility was more important than community building. If we were designing cities from scratch today, wouldn’t we park cars on the outskirts, employ efficient mass transit to move people quickly and conveniently, and keep the city human scale safe and friendly for pedestrians and bicyclists?

This inconvenient truth is becoming obvious as cities cope with increasing traffic, congestion, pollution, and a crumbling antiquated infrastructure. The adage “you’re not stuck in traffic, you are traffic” rings true in almost every city where the car dominates our public spaces.

The good news is that major change is afoot all around the world.

Groups as diverse as CicLAvia in Los Angeles and the city fathers in Hamburg, Germany both give us examples of how this problem is being confronted. Hamburg’s “Green Network Plan” goes so far as to call for a phase-out of automobiles in the center of the city altogether over the next two decades. The Hamburg concept is especially noteworthy because Germans love their cars almost as much as we do in the US. Read more here.

CicLAvia in Los Angeles and Sunday Streets in San Francisco are also great examples of how change is occurring in the US. These groups stage events all over the city, open streets for people, and encourage us to rethink our public spaces. These “open streets” initiatives have grown dramatically all over the world in a few years. The concept started in Bogotá, Colombia over thirty years ago as a response to the congestion and pollution of city streets.

You can support CicLAvia and Sunday Streets with a donations. We would love to get some customer pictures from anyone who participates in CicLAvia’s April 6 event on Wilshire Blvd. or Sunday Streets’ April 13 event in the Tenderloin.

The more you read about places like Hamburg and Open Streets groups like CicLAvia and Sunday Streets, the more you realize that the US is still playing catch up to most of the modern world when it comes to smart transportation design and Livable Cities. But perhaps our time has finally come as more people embrace Lewis Mumford’s ideal:

The chief function of the city is to convert power into form, energy into culture, dead matter into the living symbols of art, biological reproduction into social creativity.

Or as he put more succinctly, “Forget the damned motor car and build the cities for lovers and friends.”

Meet Lisa: Our PUBLIC BionX Electric Bike Winner

March 21st, 2014

PUBLIC BionX Electric Bike E-Bike Contest Winner

She’s smiling because she’s the lucky winner of the PUBLIC BionX electric bike contest that just ended, and we just delivered the good news. (Thanks to all of you who entered the contest.)

We interviewed Lisa yesterday on how bikes fit into her life, and here are a few quotes:

“I commute every day on my bike and it has a lot of benefits, it’s really the fastest way I can get to my office. I could take a bus, but I’d have to walk ten minutes on both ends, and it would take 45 minutes instead of 15. I could drive, but parking is really hard these days, and really expensive.”

“There are three big hills on my commute, I always count ‘em… one more block, one more block, and sometimes I’m just not in the mood to do that last little push up the hill at the end of the day. So this e-bike is perfect! It enables me to go places I wouldn’t think about going on my bike.”

“Today I’m wearing nicer clothes because I had a meeting. I don’t want to arrive sweaty from my bike ride, so this will allow me to ride more leisurely, and look a little bit more professional. I like that.”

“I’m surprised at how much it’s just like riding a bike, but with a little bit of a boost. It just feels a little bit easier, and lighter. It’s nice! You have the benefit of the e-bike, but still have all the style, and the design, and the performance, of a regular bike. For me that’s pretty appealing.”

We’re thrilled that Lisa is so excited about her cool new electric commuter bike from PUBLIC. If you haven’t got to try one for yourself, we have test ride e-bikes at our San Francisco stores. You can come by any time to take one for a spin, and we also have a free overnight loaner program so you can take one home and see for yourself how much fun your commute could be.

Is Dog Your Copilot? Portraits of Pets Who Pedal

March 11th, 2014

Meliza and BuddyWe often have dogs hanging out with us at the PUBLIC store, and we know the only thing more fun than riding a bike, is a bike ride with a four-legged friend. That’s why we want to do a bike photo shoot that features our customers with their dogs – or any other bike-loving pets! Here are a few examples from Copenhagen Cycle Chic and one of our own. Whether or not you’re available for our March 29-30 shoot, please get in touch as we may schedule a few photo sessions. And if you don’t live near a PUBLIC store, but you know a dog who likes to bike, please send us a photo too. We love seeing your pet photos and if we gather some good ones, we’ll do a feature on our blog soon.

(Speaking of photos, we’re also looking for humans who bike for a spring photo shoot, the weekend of March 29-30. Learn more here.)

Casting Call: Show Us Your Bike Style

March 11th, 2014

Seeking Bike Models
At PUBLIC we design our bikes for all kinds of people. But if there’s one thing all PUBLIC owners have in common, it’s their personality and original sense of style.

So whenever we photograph our bikes we prefer to shoot them with our real customers and fans. You really make our bikes look great, just like we hope our bikes look good on you too.

We’re getting ready to debut a new spring collection of bikes and colors, so we’re once again reaching out to our community of PUBLIC owners and friends and inviting a few local Bay Area people to participate in a bike photo shoot at the end of March. If you’re available in the Bay Area on the weekend of March 29-30, have a good sense of humor, like riding bikes and being on camera, drop us a note at models@publicbikes.com.

Be sure to include some photos (headshots and full figure shots). We look for diversity. If you are selected, we’ll follow up in the next week, and everyone who participates will receive $150 in store credit and our promise to make the shoot a fun adventure. We’ll be shooting for one day that weekend in either San Francisco or in the East Bay.

If you want some more inspiration for your bicycle couture, Copenhagen Cycle Chic and The Sartorialist are a couple of our favorite places to start.

PS: Got a pet who loves to pedal? We’d like to do a photo shoot of dogs on bikes. Learn more here.

Internal Gears: What Makes Our Best Bikes Better

March 7th, 2014

PUBLIC Bikes C7i Shimano Nexus Internal Gear

When customers ride a PUBLIC bike for the first time, they’re often amazed at how much smoother and easier our bikes feel compared to the clunky old bikes they’ve tried before. 

One of the big reasons our bikes ride better and last longer is the Shimano Nexus internally-geared rear hub. Internal gears have become the standard in Europe and wherever people want seriously good commuter bikes for city riding. They are catching on in the US, and there is a reason for this.


With internal gears, shifting from one gear to the next is smooth and quiet. You can even switch gears when you’re sitting still at a stoplight, something you can’t do with a derailleur gear system. And because the gears are all sealed off inside the rear wheel, the moving parts are not exposed to elements like snow, salt, water, and other gunk on the road, making them very low maintenance. And there’s no annoying slack in the chain, so you won’t have to get your fingers greasy trying to put back a chain that’s jumped off the gears. Their simplicity also adds an aesthetic element too: they make your bike look really classy.

Our internally-geared bikes are great for urban commuters and everyday riders and they are terrific for someone who’s just getting back into biking. And right now every PUBLIC bike with internal gears is on sale – up to $300 off. That includes our dutch style step-through PUBLIC C7i, our PUBLIC M8i mixte model, and our classic double-diamond PUBLIC V7i 7-speed and premium 8-speed PUBLIC D8i. Shop our all sale bikes now and see how much smoother your commute could be.

PUBLIC C7i $799 $599 PUBLIC V7i $799 $599 PUBLIC M8i $1099 $799

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