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WeiWei Good

October 27th, 2014

Every now and then a person or an event comes along that makes us appreciate just how profound and provocative the combination of art and public space can be. Usually it’s an artist that shapes that vision. I have had a few peak experiences in my life to support this, like when I saw Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington DC and Donald Judd’s works in Marfa for the first time. Both of these installations have made permanent impressions on me.

Just a few weeks ago I had a similarly profound experience on Alcatraz. Artist Ai Weiwei was recruited by Cheryl Haines (SF Art Gallery owner and FOR-SITE founder) to use Alcatraz as a location for his artistic and political expression.

Ai Weiwei is well known internationally for his art installations. He has used the bicycle as a metaphor in these installations in Tokyo, Taiwan and Italy. This amazing exhibit, currently on display at the Palazzo Franchetti in Venice is a great example.

The installations on Alcatraz do not incorporate bikes, but they contain many of the fundamental themes relevant to bikes, freedom being at the core of this.

Much has been written about this phenomenal show in the media, including the thorough article from The New York Times “Art Man of Alcatraz: Ai Weiwei Takes His Work to a Prison” that includes a terrific slide show as well.

There are seven installations total on Alcatraz. They range in scope and depth from porcelain flowers in toilets (shown left) to sound systems in jail cells. All must be experienced first-hand to be appreciated. They are not easily summarized.

The Lego installation has received a lot of media attention. It features over 176 Lego portraits of many “prisoners of conscience” that have been jailed, tortured or like Ai Weiwei, prevented from escape (like the inmates of Alcatraz). It includes people like Edward Snowden and many other less well know “dissidents.”

I found this installation particularly powerful upon learning that Ai Weiwei intended this to not only be impactful to adults, but children as well. Many children visit as tourists with their parents. Ai Weiwei hopes to get inside their little minds. How many artists take on the challenge of provoking thought in adults and kids alike?

Alcatraz is a legendary prison with an inherent comment on public space that’s compelling to visit on its own. But these installations take the experience of being there up to another level. It’s worth coming to SF just to see this show. Kudos to Ai Weiwei and Ms. Haines for pulling off the San Francisco event of the year, in my humble opinion, that rivals the Golden Gate Bridge in drama.

Ai Weiwei’s installations are currently on display on Alcatraz through April 26. Tickets aren’t easy to come by, but you can book yours here.

Vote NO TODAY: Walk/Bike Toll on Golden Gate Bridge

October 24th, 2014

Today at 10AM PST, the Golden Gate Bridge District is voting on a proposal to collect a toll on anyone who walks or bikes over the Golden Gate Bridge. Please join us in opposing this short-sighted scheme by signing a petition here (it’s a simple, under a minute process) and tweeting @ggbridge with your opposition.

The Golden Gate Bridge is a beloved international landmark that is a tourist attraction for locals and visitors alike, with an estimated of 10,000 people walking the bridge daily. It’s also the only bikeable bridge into San Francisco and as such it’s a thoroughfare for an estimated 6,000 daily bikers who reduce car traffic and pollution by riding their bike to work instead of driving.

We urge transportation officials to take a page from the city of Lillestrom Norway, where the government recently handed out a “reverse toll,” giving each bike and pedestrian commuter up to €12 for choosing not to drive a car that day. After studying the fiscal impact of biking and walking on the national health care and transportation systems, they found that the average 4km bike trip saved the government €12 ($15) and the average 1.7km walking trip reduced government spending by €11.

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most cherished public spaces in our country, and it should remain free for all people to walk and enjoy. And as a critical bike route into the city, planners should be finding ways to increase bike traffic on the bridge to maximize the social benefits of biking over driving, rather than deterring bike ridership with unnecessary fees. For more information you can visit the SF Bike Coalition, listen to a discussion on KQED’s Forum program, and join us this morning in opposing this backwards idea.

Go Big And Go Chrome – Our New PUBLIC D8i

October 22nd, 2014


When we caught a glimpse of our brand new PUBLIC D8i in Chrome for the first time, we all got a little giddy. There’s something about the sheen of chrome when translated into bike form that looks downright sexy. When you see the bike for yourself, we think you’ll agree. Our Chrome PUBLIC D8i is one elegant set of wheels.

It’s constructed of high-quality, light-weight chromoly steel and features a premium eight-speed Shimano Alfine internal hub. This bike is guaranteed to turn heads.

We’re offering this bike in two configurations:
1) The PUBLIC D8i in Chrome, with a sporty white city saddle and matching white ergo grips retailing for $899 (List $1249)
2) The PUBLIC D8i in Chrome Special Edition, with a Brooks B17 Saddle in antique brown leather and our matching PUBLIC Ergo Grip, retailing for $999 (List $1394).

As we enter gifting season next month, we think this bike would look radiant wrapped with a red bow and/or positioned near twinkling lights. We only produced 50 of these Chrome bikes so get them now before we sell out.

Our Rudy’s + PUBLIC Bikes Giveaway Winner

October 16th, 2014


The lucky winner of our Rudy’s Barbershop + PUBLIC Giveaway is Jeff Gang from Boston.

Jeff is a regular commuter who bikes almost every day, including through most of the winter. He’s a big supporter (and former board member) of the Boston Cyclists Union.

We’re excited to hear Jeff’s perspective on bicycling in Boston. He says, “The Boston Cyclists Union is an awesome group – one of the biggest reasons that bike culture and community are really taking over here in Boston. I’ve been here since 2011, and it’s amazing how much things are changing for the better for cyclists. I started biking everywhere in college. I was lucky enough to spend a summer with Climate Summer, a bike-powered summer of grassroots action against climate change. When I moved to Boston, I knew that biking was the best way to get around.”

Jeff says, “I strongly believe that more people would bike if it felt safer, and if they didn’t feel like they had to buy a whole new wardrobe.Now we’ve got lots of events like the Boston Bike Party and city-focused shops like Bicycle Belle. Change is happening, and it’s bike-powered! I got involved with the bike community here more than two years ago because traveling the city by bike made me so happy and free — and I wanted to help more people get out of cars, off the crowded subway, and onto bikes. We’ve already got our first cycletracks taking shape in Boston! I am looking forward to riding an upright PUBLIC bike.”

We at PUBLIC look forward to seeing Jeff riding his new PUBLIC!

Meet Our New PUBLIC R16 Road Bike

October 14th, 2014

Our brand new PUBLIC R16 City Road Bike is our latest take on the classic steel road bike: lightweight, has 16 hill-ready speeds, and is now available at the special introductory price of $699. We don’t think you’ll find such a well constructed and good looking drop bar road bike with these features at this price point anywhere else.

Planning a weekend adventure that includes light touring and overnight trips? Looking to out pace the commuter bus and speed across town? Or maybe you’re looking for an affordable alternative to your expensive carbon fiber road bike for everyday city riding? We designed the new PUBLIC R16 road bike with you in mind.

Our Thoughtful Upgrades

Secondary Inline Brakes


We added, secondary in-line brake levers, also called “cross” or “interrupter” brakes. These are incredibly helpful when navigating city streets because you no longer only have to be in the drop position to brake.


Downtube Shifters


Previous models had bar-end shifters, but the 2014 model moves the shifters to the downtube. Shifting is more ergonomic and this allows for easy swapping of handlebars.


Polished Silver Fenders


We’ve also swapped out the color-matching fenders for polished silver and we think this lends a more classic “touring” vibe to this vintage-inspired bike.


Available in both Cream and Green and in three unisex sizes, for people ranging from about 5’5″ to 6’3″.

We highly recommend adding a PUBLIC Slender Rear Rack in matching British Racing Green or Cream to maximize versatility without compromising style.

The Cities That Play Together Stay Together

October 7th, 2014

By riding a bike, you instantly become a more connected part of your community and a little happier. It’s the reason why one of our taglines is “Ride a Bike. Smile More.” Since the concepts of fun and urban engagement are important to us, we took notice when a recent article on the importance of “play” in cities passed by our monitors.

The article from The Guardian entitled “Playable Cities: the city that plays together, stays together” makes the case that our culture is becoming increasingly more isolated by technology. So by cultivating activities in your city that bring joy – like “Zoobombing” every Sunday on a zany bike in Portland – you create an environment that’s active, happier and paves the way for a more cohesive city. This article specifically highlights quirky, city-wide events like those illustrated above and below.

Play in cities takes many forms. Here are a few we found and a few we snapped with our own cameras.

Open Streets: NationwideAn increasing number of cities around the world organize Open Streets, which opens public streets for people to walk, bicycle, play, and connect with each other. They’re called Sunday Streets in San Francisco and Berkeley, CicLAvia in Los Angeles, and Sunday Parkways in Portland, Oregon.

Bring Your Own Big Wheels: San Francisco, CA – Adults don costumes and zoom down one of the curviest and steepest streets in San Francisco on big wheel bikes every Easter.

ZooBombing: Portland, OREvery Sunday night adults on kid’s bikes and art bikes careen down a hill near the Oregon Zoo.

Art Installation: Chicago, ILA water art installation geared towards children (but clearly adults were having fun too).

Break Dancing on the Streets in BarcelonaThe simple act of dancing in the streets is a sign of play in the city of Barcelona.

 

Reading, Riding + Arithmetic

October 2nd, 2014

 

You don’t need a high IQ to see why bikes and colleges are a good fit. Colleges are places where higher education and progressive thought flourish, so a transportation form like biking that’s simple and affordable, environmentally-friendly and cultivates a sense of community and connection, just makes sense. Plus, because most campuses are flat, relatively car-free and with buildings significantly apart from each other, zipping to and from via bike is a logical choice.

Occidental College in Los Angeles has been partnering with PUBLIC bikes for a few years now to provide PUBLIC bikes for their free student bike share program. We’re pumped to see how much the Occidental Bike Share Program has grown over the years and it’s so cool to see our bikes being put to such good use on a daily basis.



Occidental College is a great role model for other campuses interested in starting a bike share program. They started small in 2011 with just four aging and poorly maintained bikes to rent. Now according to their head mechanic, Charles Deffarges, the program has grown to include over 24 well-kept PUBLIC bikes, in orange and cream to match the college’s colors.

In addition to well maintained bikes, they now have a dedicated and fully stocked bike workshop where as soon as a bike rental comes in, someone is waiting to ride it out. “Right now our fleet is fully rented,” said Deffarges. “Demand is through the roof and we’re looking to have 30 bikes available to rent by 2015.”

We have years of experience customizing PUBLIC bikes for organizations. With enough quantity and lead-time we can even create bikes in the color of your college or company. If you’re interested in partnering with PUBLIC to create a custom fleet, please get in touch.

Customers Speak Up On E-Bikes

September 29th, 2014

Electric bikes, aka “E-Bikes” have been taking Europe by storm and are finally gaining traction in the US. These bikes were the highlight of the recent Interbike show in Las Vegas and we’re putting a lot of new customers on our PUBLIC BionX e-bikes.

We’ve been selling and touting the merits of e-bikes for awhile now at PUBLIC. Our founder, Rob Forbes endorses the e-bike and zips all around San Francisco on his. Recently, we reached out to our PUBLIC BionX e-bike buyers asking them for their feedback on their e-bikes. Here are responses from a few of them.

I love my PUBLIC E-bike. While a lot of people scoff at the idea of an able bodied person using an E-bike it makes perfect sense for me. As a mom it allows me to cover more ground in less time to run errands while my two kids are in school. As a working person I am able to bike effortlessly to the train station to commute to work. As a transportation cyclist who can be slow and unsteady on a bike it allows me to move at speed with traffic and get through tough intersections with ease. I bike more often and with a ton of confidence and never worry about struggling. I regularly bike 7 hilly round trip miles to the gym and never have to deal with the circus show that is parking.” – Vanessa Allen

I’ve had my PUBLIC D BionX for about 2 weeks now and call it “Wonder Wheels” since I feel like a wonder woman when I ride it. I live in the Excelsior in the south-end of San Francisco and commute to Upper Rockridge in Oakland every workday and continue to ride for errands and pleasure on weekends. During the week, I ride to downtown and take the Caltrans bike shuttle across the bridge for $1 each way. I like to say that I have a $2 + 700 calorie daily commute. And now that I have pedal assist on a stunning PUBLIC bike, I can’t help but smile gleefully throughout all 17+ bicycle miles. I love that I can still get a workout if I want one by riding it with no assist or even added resistance and then zoom up a hill with ease.” – Lori Hébert

I purchased my first PUBLIC bike, a V7, in 2012 so I could make the 1 1/2 mile commute to work. It was a nice flat ride. Fast forward to 2014, I had purchased a home 5 miles and a 430 ft climb from work. As much as I love my V7, I was not going to be able to ride it home, as it is pretty much uphill all of the way. I stopped riding for 6 months and really was missing it. Especially the exercise! After much thought, I decided to go with the PUBLIC D BionX and I could not be happier! The bike itself is wonderful and not as heavy as I had expected. The BionX hub motor gives me the confidence and power that I need to make the ride home, and now that I’m riding again, I hope to shed the weight I gained and make the ride even better. I love using the throttle on the flat parts on my way to work, so I do not get sweaty on the ride. The battery life has been great. I carry the charger with me so I can charge at work. The rainy season in Oregon has begun and I have had no problems riding in the rain. The PUBLIC D BionX is a great bike for commuting in hilly areas and has the quality I have come to expect from PUBLIC. I still plan on pulling out the V7 for leisurely (and flatter) rides, but my main ride is the BionX and I could not be happier!”
- Brian Noga

I rode home from the PUBLIC Hayes Street store, cruised the hills and into the a nice headwind all the way to my dreaded 10th avenue hill–right to my house. Did not break a sweat. This is a very cool machine.” – Joel Young

I have four different levels of torque assist, ranging from mild to substantial. I have found that using the mild assist is helpful for level surfaces, as the added weight that the battery and crank system adds is substantial (the bicycle weighs about forty-five pounds). For steep hills, the added assist allows me to cruise around fifteen miles per hour. I get home in half the time that I did while riding a conventional bicycle.

The unexpected benefit that I have found is that I am still getting a fantastic work out, through both cardiovascular effort and through muscle fatigue in my legs. The psychological “rush” that I get with a pedal assist makes me want to pedal constantly. I have also found that I will try to challenge myself by lowering the pedal assist for certain portions of my trip.

I have had my bicycle now for about one month, and I must say that it is a fantastic option for people who want the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you will make it up hills without killing yourself. It is also great fun to pass bicycle messengers and people half your age. I have found that you can also quickly accelerate if you need a quick start from a stopped position.”  - Dan Baumstark (Read Dan’s full review here.)

And when we first introduced our PUBLIC BionX e-bike to the market, we invited a handful of public customers to come and test out these electric bikes for the first time. Here’s the video of their experiences:

Ride It to Believe It: New Electric Bikes from PUBLIC Bikes on Vimeo.

The PUBLIC Backstory with American Cyclery

September 23rd, 2014

We’re really lucky to have great bike shop dealers around the country carrying our bikes and introducing new people to the PUBLIC. We’ve got bike shop dealers in Chicago, Fresno, Seattle, Portland, New Orleans, Brooklyn, and many other cities. All these bike shop dealers have different PUBLIC bikes in stock at their respective stores, but more importantly they can special order the PUBLIC bike of your choice even if they don’t. You’ll hopefully get great customer service from them and establish a bike maintenance relationship with them.

In our home town of San Francisco, besides our PUBLIC stores, our only other local dealer is American Cyclery, the oldest independent bike shop in SF. American Cyclery is a really special dealer to PUBLIC, not only because of its rich San Francisco legacy, but because we developed the initial prototype PUBLIC bikes in partnership with American Cyclery.

American Cyclery has been around since 1941 and it looks like your typical bike shop – chock full of bikes, parts, gear, with a bustling mechanic’s workshop and a mascot, the lovable Golden Retriever, Lanikai. But American Cyclery is more than a bike shop for stock bikes and services (though it does both with professional ease). It’s the go-to spot for bike aficionados. American Cyclery is an excellent place for those interested in customized bikes and breathing life into vintage bike finds.

The owner of American Cyclery, Bradley Woehl, is one of those aforementioned bike aficionados. He’s an avid bike collector and it’s pretty safe to say, a bike historian. The basement of American Cyclery is not only full of bikes, but is also home to perhaps the city’s most comprehensive (and little known) bike library. VeloNews magazines from throughout the 20th century and oversized photo albums full of decades old bike-related newspaper clippings, all line up the shelves in American Cyclery’s basement.

PUBLIC’s founder Rob Forbes was a customer at American Cyclery before PUBLIC got its start. Both Bradley and Rob shared a mutual love of vintage bikes, and when Rob got the bug to design a modern version based on classic vintage bikes, Bradley’s bike library became the place of inspiration. According to Rob, “Bradley’s love for classic bikes and his knowledge was contagious. He helped me find bikes like the classic French Mercier [shown below] from the 50’s (all aluminum) and this British Holdsworth [shown below]. Both are still in the PUBLIC collection and sources of inspiration to us.”

Rob’s goal was to capture the beauty of those early British and Mid-Century French bikes, but to modernize them as Bradley puts it, “into simple, good looking bikes that adults both look and feel good on.”


Working together, they came up with six bike designs that met their criteria of simple, clean lines, with a fresh take. Rob’s background in design and color inspired him to make those bikes in bold colors. It was those first bikes that set the PUBLIC tone and the brand was born in 2010.

We’re proud that American Cyclery sells PUBLIC bikes and their full service bike shop is also an excellent place to get PUBLIC bikes serviced, especially if you live on the westside of San Francisco further away from our PUBLIC store in Hayes Valley.

Visit American Cyclery at 510 Frederick St, San Francisco, CA 94117.

Best New Bike Apps for City Biking

September 19th, 2014

Best Bike Apps for iPhone bike directions and Android apps for biking

In honor of iPhone Day, we put together a list of some of our favorite iPhone bike apps and Android apps for people who bike in the city. The newest generations of smartphones are some of the best bike accessories ever, with some really cool new bike apps now available that make city biking even more fun and easy. From navigation to weather to fitness tracking, here’s a quick list of some of the apps that have earned a permanent place on our home screens.

Got a better app that we should know about? We are always looking for ways to make city biking smarter, easier, and more fun. If you are interested in developing a new bike app or gadget, get in touch. We are always interested in strategic partnerships to develop smart new bike gear.

 

Google Maps for Mobile
Turn-by-turn GPS bike navigation
Free: iPhone | Android | Web
Google Maps bike directions for iPhoneAfter Apple ditched Google’s maps for the iPhone 5, Google soon released their own new version of the Google Maps app for iPhone. It surpassed the original in most ways, and recently it even added bike-friendly directions, something Android users already enjoyed, and Apple’s maps never offered. While its bike directions are still sometimes a bit odd, Google Maps has been continuously improving its map data for a decade now, and it’s one of the only apps available with turn-by-turn voice navigation for your bike, just like in a car. (Pro tip: tuck your phone in your shirt or jacket’s breast pocket to hear the speaker while riding. Also a great way to add some jams to your ride.) The Android version also has some cool extras like an elevation chart to see how steep your route will be. For a quick way to plan a bike ride across almost any city, the Google Maps app deserves a place in every biker’s pocket.

 

Citymapper
All your transit options in one clever app
Free: iPhone | Android | Web
Citymapper public transit bike directions for iPhone and AndroidThe mission statement of Citymapper is to “make cities easier to use,” and at PUBLIC we think that’s pretty cool. Since they recently added directions for the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s quickly become one of our favorite apps for getting around town. It scouts out every available transportation option to help you find the smartest possible routes. You can plan a trip by bike, bus, ferry, train, taxi, or walking, and even city bike sharing systems if you don’t have your own bike with you. It packs in a ton of features without feeling too cluttered, and even makes room for some clever jokes, like showing the calories burned on your bike ride in units of soy lattes or $4 artisanal toast. While the new Bay Area bike directions could still use some improvement, the app overall is very thoughtfully designed, with lots of cheeky details that make your commute a little more fun. Plan a trip by catapult or teleporter and you’ll see what I mean.

 

Bike Maps – by Maplets
Curated, downloadable bike maps for your local area
99 cents: iPhone | $2.99: Android
Bike Maps by Maplets for iPhoneBefore the iPhone era, the state of the art bike maps were on paper, showing the official bike infrastructure of the city. These local maps are often quite carefully designed for city bikers, and they encourage you to build your own knowledge of your city’s bike routes rather than relying on GPS instructions. The Bike Maps – by Maplets app brings these bike maps to your phone, with an extensive list of maps available for your local area. Once downloaded, they can be navigated offline, saving your battery and data plan. My local favorite is the San Francisco Bike and Walking Map, which shades every street in the city according to its steepness. Crucial, because I am a big wimp about hills. You can make notes and draw routes to remember your favorite spots, and some maps allow you to overlay your current GPS location. The map collection is extensive, including parks and off-road trails, so you’re sure to find some new rides. Well worth the paid download.

 

Forecast.io Weather for Bicyclists on iPhone and Android Forecast.io
Crazy good hyperlocal weather reports
Free: Forecast.io web app for all devices | $3.99: Dark Sky app for iPhone
Forecast.io Weather App for Bicyclists on iPhone and AndroidGood weather reports are crucial for bike commuters to know what clothes to wear or pack for a dry day at work. Especially in the legendary San Francisco microclimates, a good weather app should pinpoint your precise location for the most accurate information. Forecast.io is the best designed free mobile weather app I’ve found, with a proprietary API that compiles 19 different sources of weather data to provide a simple accurate forecast at a glance, with a cool scrolling timeline view. When rain is looming, the screen adds a little precipitation chart that predicts how wet the next hour will be – great for picking the best time to ride home in between rain showers. It’s a free web app that works on any smartphone, tablet, or computer just by visiting http://forecast.io in your browser. If you like what they do, check out their Dark Sky app for iPhone which offers rain notification messages.

 

IFTTT Rain Alerts for Bike Commuters on iPhone and Android IFTTT – if this then that
Customizable weather alerts (plus a million other possibilities)
Free: iPhone | Android | Web
IFTTT Rain Alerts for Bike Commuters on iPhone and AndroidIFTTT offers all-purpose internet wiring to connect different websites and online services together and make all kinds of cool things happen. One useful way to use IFTTT for biking is to create personalized weather reports that automatically send you an email, text, or app notification when rain is in the forecast, so you’ll never be caught without a raincoat again. Just sign up for free and make this recipe: If Weather:Tomorrow’s forecast calls for… Rain, Then SMS:Send me an SMS. Instead of a text message, you can also choose an email, or a notification from the mobile app. You can set this all up on ifttt.com, but the mobile apps are also quite slick and they enable some extra features like app notifications. Here’s a link to my recipe if you want to use it to get started!

 

Moves iPhone activity tracker for cyclists Moves
Simple, automatic activity tracking
Free: iPhone | Android
Moves iPhone activity tracker for cyclistsIf you’re interested in activity tracking but aren’t quite ready to commit to a Fitbit, the free Moves app offers simple movement tracking throughout the day using just your phone. Automatically detecting whether you’re walking, running, or biking, it generates an elegant daily and weekly journal of your activity in terms of steps taken, miles traveled, calories burned, and time spent moving, to motivate your fitness goals. (Not for the paranoid – you end up with a detailed list of every place you visit.) You can also use it to record other activities and workouts, and it can share your activity data with more heavy duty fitness apps. It oddly doesn’t include any kind of goal setting features, but at least its simplicity offers a pleasant, zen experience. It thankfully includes a Battery Saving mode to make sure your phone doesn’t tire out before you do.

 

 

Strava bike fitness app Strava
Athletic tracking with friendly competition
Free: iPhone | Android | Web
Strava bike fitness appDefinitely the most popular app for the lycra wearing crowd, Strava turns your phone into a bike computer to calculate all kinds of fitness data while you ride, like calories, miles, elevation, speed, and mapping your route on GPS. It awards you for personal best records and keeps track of your cumulative rides and runs over the course of the year. Our product manager Aaron recently used Strava to track his progress as he rode every street in San Francisco. What makes Strava different is its heavy emphasis on social networking, with a news feed of the rides your friends are taking, local leaderboard rankings of the most popular spots around town, and regular challenges to motivate you to ride. Its ride mapping has also inspired a new genre of bike route art that’s most notably led to a marriage proposal spelled out street by street. Top that one, Aaron!
Strava Marry Me

Did we miss your favorite bike app? Tell us what’s on your home screen in the comments below.

 


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