May 19th, 2015

Ghislaine Viñas

Ghislaine Viñas / Photo By Andy French

I first met award-winning interior designer Ghislaine Viñas on a PUBLIC group bike ride in Manhattan during the ICFF event that draws designers from around the world. She was there looking very Dutch (she was born in the Netherlands) on an orange PUBLIC mixte bike and riding with her Mom. Given how the Dutch lead the way when it comes to biking, we always feel especially complimented when the Dutch select our bikes.

It was at this ICFF event that I discovered Ghislaine and I had many shared personal interests, like an obsession with color and pattern. You can see this in her remarkable interior design work, and of course in the bike she rides 😉.

Read our complete interview with Ghislaine below.

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Rob Forbes

PUBLIC: As the owner/creator of an interior design studio you are constantly called upon to come up with new ideas and solutions for creative problems. Where do you find inspiration?

Ghislaine: Its true that coming up with new ideas and creative solutions is a huge part of the job, but it’s the part I enjoy the most. I feel lucky to live in NYC and be surrounded by creativity and inspiration and I don’t need to go far to find it. But traveling is what really gives me inspiration.

I just came back from Panama and was really inspired by Panama City and the islands I visited when I was there. The Kuna woman of the San Blas islands wear the most beautiful traditional outfits that are crazily patterned and reverse embroidered. They originally used to paint their bodies with these geometric patterns and then as they westernized they transferred the patterns onto fabric. The Kuna women are tiny and wear these gorgeous bright red and yellow headscarves and lots of mixed patterns and colors. I had never heard of this tribe so it was a lovely discovery for me.

I love finding this kind of inspiration. I’m always planning and plotting my next adventure with my family especially during the cold winter months.

PUBLIC: What are the first steps you take when solving an interior design problem?

Ghislaine: I usually just tackle something head on and use my intuition, diving right in without thinking too much. I know that my first inspiration is just a starting point and I keep on developing and often changing an idea until I get it right. Sometimes I can’t really explain why something isn’t right so we just keep on going. It’s always a process and sometimes it takes designing a room countless times before it feels right.

PUBLIC: How does bicycling fit into your lifestyle?

Ghislaine: My bike IS my lifestyle. No matter what the weather, I ride my bike to my appointments and meetings and just everywhere I go. A lot of my activities are in downtown Manhattan and it’s just the easiest, fastest and most convenient way for me to get around. I know some people put their bike away for the winter but mine never goes into storage.

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Interior by Ghislaine Viñas / Photo By Eric Laignel

PUBLIC: Color plays an important role in your work. What inspires your color choices?

Ghislaine: Color has always made me feel very happy and I love surrounding myself with colorful happy things so at first it was just innate. My color choices are often driven by how I want a space to feel. I know that color can drive the way that spaces make us feel and my designs work with that energy. Creating good solid neutrals in a room are important so that it creates a backdrop for me to incorporate color. We are always experimenting with color, and playing with nuances. But my work with color is something that is always evolving. I was very inspired by Dutch Design Week last year and was introduced to some really inspiring color combinations and ideas. I think I’m only at the beginning of my experimentation with color and hope to keep working and evolving in this area of my designs.

What’s your favorite color at the moment?

Ghislaine: I don’t have a favorite but I’ve always loved greens and am really intrigued with mixing super vibrant greens with more muddy ones. Recently I was in a tiny little village called Salt Creek on Isla Bastimentos in Panama. It’s the home of the still intact indigenous Indian Ngobe-Bugle people, and I noticed that a lot of the very crude and simple buildings that the locals had built were painted with vibrant greens. The buildings were pretty primitive looking but I loved the mixture of greens with which some of the houses were painted. I also love orange. I’m a sucker for bright vibrant clear colors.

PUBLIC: We notice that your PUBLIC bike is Orange ;-). How does your PUBLIC Bike reflect your personal style?

Ghislaine: Well, my bike is orange and since I was born in the Netherlands I feel like I am representing. 😉 My PUBLIC bike feels like it was made for me personally and I think it’s strange when I see someone else with a bike like mine. That’s how personal the bike feels to me. I’ve always been drawn to color and riding a bright orange bike fits my style.

PUBLIC: Describe your perfect day on a bike?

Ghislaine: Since I use my bike in the city on a day-to-day level I’m not going to pick that as a perfect day (even though it certainly can be). My perfect day on a bike is waking up in the Netherlands and jumping on bikes with my parents, husband and kids and spending the day riding through the countryside, past windmills and into tiny villages. Stopping for coffee and lunch and ice cream along the way. We have been doing this since my girls were babies, riding in the kids seat connected to our bikes. Our kids would fall asleep and take their naps in the kids seats. Springtime in the Netherlands is amazingly beautiful and there is something so pure and simple about the bike rides we take in North Holland. We will be there again in a month so I’m really looking forward to breathing in the crisp fresh spring air and taking lots of bike rides.

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Ghislaine biking around NYC / Photo By Jaime Viñas

PUBLIC: Are bicycles an important part of the community you live in?

Ghislaine: I’ve lived in my neighborhood Tribeca for 24 years and for a long time there weren’t too many bikes around, but in the last 5 years or so biking has become super popular. It’s so nice to stop at a stop light and have another bike pull up next to you, that didn’t happen until more recently. I think that drivers and taxis are also paying attention more and learning to share the road. It can be pretty scary riding in the city so it feels good to have a community of riders on the road. I wish we had better bike lanes and that the roads here were safer but it has never stopped me. Of course Citibikes has also doubled the amount of bikes on the roads.

PUBLIC: What makes your work unique?

Ghislaine: I’m so passionate about design and everything I do comes from my heart so its a really personal expression. When I am designing rooms I don’t think of furniture, rugs, and window treatments but I think of spaces as compositions. The solutions we offer our clients is always informed by what they tell us about themselves and what they want their space to feel like. So our interiors are always unique creations for those specific clients and that way our work remains fresh and unique.

PUBLIC: How do you keep your designs fresh and relevant?

Ghislaine: I’m a curious person and have a pretty short attention span. This means I am usually looking for something new and different to keep me occupied. It’s in my nature to try new things constantly.

PUBLIC: Any upcoming projects/partnerships/designs that you are excited about?

Ghislaine: I am currently collaborating with furniture designer and friend, Brad Ascalon on a furniture line for Loll. Loll is a fantastic, environmentally conscious furniture design company out of Duluth, MN and its been fun working on an upholstered line for them which we are hoping launches in the next 3 months. I feel lucky to be collaborating with Chet Callahan again. He is an architect in LA and our first project together was a project I am really super proud of so its great to be working on a second. I’m doing my 8th project with my good friend and client Paige West. I adore working with her and I always get excited when she tells me she has a project up her sleeve. I’m just really happy and proud of what we are doing in my office and the great team of people I get to work with every day. My husband Jaime is a great collaborator too and we are working with him on a number of projects too.

May 10th, 2015

In celebration of Bike Month, Bike to Ice Cream Day will be co-hosted by Bi-Rite Divisadero and PUBLIC Bikes to tie together three things San Franciscans love: celebrating safer, bike-friendly streets and culture, supporting local youth with great local jobs, and delicious, organic, small-batch ice cream! Win-Win for all.

Bi-Rite Grocery and Creamery on Divisadero.

The fundraiser will take place at the Bi-Rite Divisadero Scoop Shop at 550 Divisadero. This promotion is limited to this Divisadero location ONLY (will not extend to our Bi-Rite Creamery on 18th Street). The event will be on Wednesday, May 20th from 5pm to 8pm. You can RSVP to this Facebook event & invite your friends.

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Non-profit bike shop, Pedal Revolution.

The event is a fundraiser for Pedal Revolution, an amazing non-profit bike shop that, with their partnership with New Door Ventures, has provided local youth with local job training and opportunities for 15 years. For entire month of May, the Bi-Rite Divisadero Scoop Shop will collect donations for Pedal Revolution to support their youth work.

The event will feature a special day-of sundae, called “This Little Piggy Rode to Market”, featuring Chunky Pig’s Bacon Caramel Popcorn, with Bi-Rite Creamery’s Brown Sugar with ginger caramel swirl ice cream, Vanilla ice cream and our house-made fudge sauce. Folks who come with their bike helmet with get $1.50 off their sundae – $6.99 for bike riders with helmets and $8.50 for everyone else!

The event will also have a raffle featuring sweet prizes, including PUBLIC Bikes gift certificates, PUBLIC Mini Kids Balance Bikes and Bi-Rite swag and sweet treats. A donation of $1 gets you a raffle ticket and all raffle sales will benefit Pedal Revolution.

Pedal Revolution will be on-site at this May 20 event. Folks can learn about their mission, meet their youth and participate in a mini-bike clinic.

May 8th, 2015

PUBLIC Plae Header

Bike riding brings joy and when you bike with your kids you’re paying that joy forward. To celebrate family bike riding we’ve teamed up with the fun-loving folks at PLAE kids shoes to bring you the “Joy Ride Sweepstakes.” This giveaway includes prizes for the whole family.

The giveaway grand prize is one adult PUBLIC V7 or PUBLIC C7 city bike, valued at $499, one PUBLIC Mini Kids Balance Bike, valued at $129, and a PLAE give card valued at $1000.

Entering the contest is easy. Anyone can do it and you’ll maximize your chances of winning by inviting a few of your friends along. Contest ends 6/21/15.

Mom Talk: Tips For Biking With Kids

Mom's Day

Left: Naomi of Love Taza. Right: Jen of Pedal Adventures.

We’re so inspired by our PUBLIC family. In honor of Mother’s Day, we reached out to biking mom’s for tips on biking with children and their thoughts on being a mom. Read their thoughtful words on our blog and get inspired to bike with your child.

Family Biking Video

We followed Lisa and her kids Marie, Owen, and Silvie as they ride together in San Francisco. It’s our humble opinion that families who bike together are happier and we think this video proves it!.

PUBLIC Bikes: A Family That Bikes Together from PUBLIC Bikes on Vimeo.

May 5th, 2015

Leah Shahum of Vision Zero

Leah Shahum / Image Credit: Melissa Balmer

Whether biking, walking or driving, people deserve to be safe when moving around their community. It’s a concept few would argue with, but who is actually working to make that happen?

Enter, Vision Zero. It’s a concept created 15 years ago in Sweden with the goal of making zero traffic fatalities or severe injuries a priority in major cities. Now several major cities in United States, including Seattle, New York City, and San Francisco, have adopted Vision Zero as a policy goal.

The Vision Zero Network, recently launched by Leah Shahum, is building a movement to support Vision Zero. We know Leah from her days as executive director of the SF Bike Coalition where she shaped the organization into one of the largest bicycle advocacy groups in the country. Now, at the helm of the Vision Zero Network, we’re confident Leah will bring awareness to a problem that needlessly kills over 30,000 Americans annually, by helping major cities work towards zero in their communities.

We caught up with Shahum to learn more about Vision Zero.

PUBLIC: What is Vision Zero?

Leah: Vision Zero is a new way approach to safe mobility. It lays out the expectation that people deserve to be safe as they move around their community, when they’re walking, bicycling, taking transit or driving.

Vision Zero is a concept created in Sweden about 15 years ago and spreading around the world. Vision Zero is a goal – zero traffic fatalities or severe injuries – as well as a strategy and way of thinking to achieve that goal. Cities across America, including San Francisco, New York City, Seattle and others, are realizing that they can – and must – think and act differently if they are to change the situation in which far too many people are dying needlessly on our roadways.

Vision Zero differs from the traditional approach in three major ways. First, Vision Zero acknowledges that traffic deaths and severe injuries are preventable. This is a transformative shift in thinking. You can compare this to the way cultural attitudes have shifted in the past towards preventing drunk driving (zero tolerance) or increasing recycling and other conservation efforts (zero waste).

Second, Vision Zero brings together diverse — and necessary — stakeholders to address a complex social problem. Traditionally, traffic planners and engineers, police officers, policymakers, and public health professionals have not collaborated in meaningful, cross-disciplinary ways to meet shared goals (partly because they literally did not have shared goals for safe streets). Vision Zero acknowledges that there are many factors that contribute to safe mobility — infrastructure, enforcement, individual behavior/education, and policies — and all must be coordinated with a safety-first approach.

And finally, Vision Zero is a data-based approach. Traditionally, improving street safety has involved finger-pointing or resembled a whack-a-mole game more than a coordinated, fact-based strategy. But with the awareness that Vision Zero is raising, communities are starting to treat traffic safety as a public health issue and using data to make decisions.

While we know that people are fallible and will sometimes make mistakes, we can – and must — set up our roadways and transportation systems to make sure that collisions do not end in death or severe injuries.

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Vision Zero in Montreal, Canada / Photo Credit: Payton Chung

PUBLIC: Why are so many cities adopting Vision Zero?

Leah: Cities are realizing that our transportation systems are out of sync with our priorities for increased safety, public health, environmental sustainability and affordability. And local leaders know that they cannot wait for the federal government to come in and change things. This movement for Vision Zero is really coming from the locals, from the ground up, because the issues are so very close to home in our communities.

I also think that city leaders recognize the growing trend of employers wanting to be located in urban environments where their employees can walk, bike, take transit and carshare. They’ve got to honor these choices because this is the way the workforce of America is moving.

And finally, I think a lot of us have been inspired by the changes we’ve seen across the globe that prove that when you build great walking, bicycling and transit infrastructure and set up policies that encourage those ways of moving around, more people choose to do so, which of course is a benefit to the cities, in general. For a long time, the idea of growing biking, walking, and transit trips and decreasing single occupancy vehicle trips seemed impossible to many city leaders, but the proof exists now and leaders are feeling more confident. San Francisco is a great example of that, as private vehicle traffic has decreased in recent years, as biking, walking, transit and rideshare have grown. And there are more car-free households in SF. All of this is happening while the city is growing and the economy is booming.

PUBLIC: 3. After leading the SF Bicycle Coalition for many years, why did you choose to launch the Vision Zero Network?

Leah: Well, I was riding my awesome orange Public bike down Market Street in San Francisco one day….I really do have an awesome orange Public bike (more on that later), but really….

Over the past year and a half since the SF Bicycle Coalition and Walk SF and our partners successfully urged the City of San Francisco to commit to Vision Zero, I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of Vision Zero to be a real gamechanger in terms of our communities’ safety and mobility.

First, who can be against safety, right?

Second, the work of Vision Zero includes everyone, all road users, and that’s powerful. This is not a movement that’s aimed just at keeping people safe while they bike or just while they walk or just while they drive. The reality is that most people do a combination of all of these things in a week, and we want them to be safe while doing all of those things. People have a basic right to move safely around their communities. It’s a simple but powerful concept.

And, I’m excited by the idea of different cities pooling their energy and great minds and passion toward a shared goal of Visio Zero. What the Vision Zero Network does is bring together the key stakeholders in cities across America to collaborate and develop and share strategies for what will advance Vision Zero in the urban environment.

While Seattle, San Jose and Washington DC are different places, of course, they also share a great deal of the same challenges and opportunities when it comes to ensuring safe mobility. We have so much to learn from each other. Plus, we can push each other and, together, raise the profile of Vision Zero across the country.

The timing felt right for me to help shape this nascent movement that is so promising and capturing so much attention not just among the “usual suspects” but among a whole new field of important players who need to be involved in this effort for safe mobility for all.

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Sweden Traffic / Photo Credit: Erik Söderström

PUBLIC: You’re currently studying Vision Zero in Europe. How’s that going? What do you say to skeptics who tell you American cities are very different than European cities so you can’t expect the same kind of attention to pedestrians and bicycles in car-centric American cities?

Leah: I’m fortunate to be traveling as part of the German Marshall Fund Urban & Regional Policy Fellowship to research Vision Zero. I’m visiting Berlin, Stockholm and Rotterdam – all in countries that have adopted national Vision Zero strategies, or something similar w/ different names.

To the skeptics – and I totally understand where they’re coming from – I’d explain that what’s interesting me most is not so much how different countries have different cultural attitudes and historical development, which of course they do. One could say, “Oh it’s Europe, it’s different, we’ll never be like that….” And in certain ways, they’d be right.

I think the most valuable lessons are the examples where cities have made their streets dramatically safer in the recent past. For instance, Berlin reduced its traffic fatalities by 80% since the 1970s, while increasing its population. And they’ve tripled the numbers of people biking just in the past 15 years or so. And Berlin’s streets resemble a typical major U.S. city’s more than some of the other European examples that you often hear cited, such as Amsterdam or Copenhagen. So how did Berlin do that? We need to understand that and figure out which strategies can transfer to an American environment. Granted, not everything will be replicable in the U.S., but some things will be.

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Green Bike Lanes in San Francisco

PUBLIC: Is Vision Zero anti-car? How do we move beyond the car vs bikes vs pedestrians debate?

Leah: I’m so glad you asked that question. Vision Zero is pro-safety for everyone, whether they’re walking, biking, driving or taking transit. Everyone deserves to be safe as they move around.

Now, we know that, particularly in urban areas, it is people on foot and bike who bear the worst brunt of traffic violence, and we know that it is in automobiles that people bear the greatest risk of hurting others because of the pure weight and force of a motor vehicle. These are basic facts. So, any worthwhile traffic safety strategy needs to focus appropriate energy toward these realities. So, it’s not a surprise that we see cities focusing particular attention on better training professional drivers of large vehicles, who spend many, many hours each day on the road driving large – and sometimes – dangerous vehicles. But of course, safety awareness is important for all of us when we walk, bike or drive regular-size vehicles. We all need to be safe out there, but some ways of moving about bring more risk and deserve more attention.

One of the things that excites me most about Vision Zero is that it is a way to move past the unfortunate silos that many people have placed themselves or others into in the past. It’s a shame that there have been so many arguments in the past about what’s best for “the bicyclists” versus “the drivers” or “the pedestrians.” Those are unhelpful and unrealistic labels. Most people move around in a variety of ways during the week based on what works, at a practical level, for them for each trip. For instance, what’s most convenient or easiest? What’s most enjoyable and feels comfortable? What doesn’t cost too much money?

We probably all know someone, sadly, who was lost in a traffic crash, whether walking, biking or driving. We all want to prevent that from happening to people we love…or to anyone. This is so much bigger than biking. And Vision Zero certainly is not anti-anything, rather, it’s pro-safe mobility for everyone.

PUBLIC: What specific steps can cities take to make streets safer?

Leah: They can explicitly and publicly make safety their number one priority in making decisions about their transportation system. That means that they use a data-based approach to understand where the problem areas and unsafe behaviors are in their community.

And they bring together the range of people have control over safety in their community – that means not just traffic engineers, but also police officers and public health specialists and educators and school officials and the district attorneys and advocates and other community members. And they work together to set priorities that reflect safety as the top goal. That means roadways are designed with a safety-first mantra. And resources are doled safety-first. And traffic enforcement is guided by safety-first, etc, etc.

Is this always going to be easy? Of course not. Because there will continue to be many competing priorities for all of those limited resources. But if a city is serious about keeping its citizens safe – and I would suggest that’s the very basic premise of government – it needs to make the decisions that reflect its priorities.

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Busy Streets Of NYC / Photo Credit: Brian Jeffery Beggerly

PUBLIC: What steps can the average person take (like me, for example) to make streets safer?

Leah: Of course, the most important thing we can all do individually is to move safely and predictably out there. We all have responsibility for our own actions, and we can serve as a model to others.

I’d suggest that interested individuals can also start to raise the idea of Vision Zero in their communities by asking their elected leaders where they stand on this issue and prioritizing safe mobility. And talking with your friends and neighbors about the idea. In the end, Vision Zero really is a shift in the way we all think about mobility. Just like we saw a major shift in the way Americans thought about the need to discourage drunk driving or to encourage recycling, we need to evolve our individual and societal expectations for being able to move around safely.

PUBLIC: Can Vision Zero really be achieved?

Leah: Yes. Now that doesn’t mean that we will prevent all traffic collisions, because people will continue to make mistakes…we’re fallible, it’s just the reality. But we absolutely can design systems and set up policies and practices that ensure that when things inevitably, at times, collide, the worst case scenario is not the result. For instance, if everyone were moving about a community no faster than at 15 miles per hour, we would prevent most traffic fatalities. That’s possible. That’s a choice that cities could make. And we’re seeing more people think about moving in that direction.

Plus, setting a bold, clear goal is important to get people thinking differently. By setting the goal of zero, we encourage people to think about it and to ask: “Can we prevent these deaths and injuries?”
The answer is “yes we can” by making certain decisions and taking certain actions. It’s a matter of prioritizing safety.

Americans are, in general, sadly complacent about the major public health crisis we have on our roadways. We need to start shaking people out of this complacently to commit to safe transportation options or, the alternative is the status quo and we continue to lose an average of 30,000 people in this country each year to preventable tragedies. That’s not an alternative.

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Leah and her PUBLIC M8 Mixte bike / Photo Credit Melissa Balmer

PUBLIC: You’ve been riding an Orange PUBLIC mixte for many years. What do you like about this bike and riding in general?

Leah: I absolutely love my bike. First of all, it’s so fun to ride. And so comfortable for everyday city riding.
And, I will admit that I kind of like the admiring looks the bike gets as I cruise around San Francisco. Even after all these years, people still really notice the bike. I love to watch people’s eyes light up and a smile spread across their faces as they look at the bike. My hope, of course, is that they’re thinking, even subconsciously, “Ah, biking, that looks fun, maybe I should give that a try.”

PUBLIC: Do you remember your first bike? If so, please describe it.

Leah: I don’t remember what kind of bike it was, but I really do remember the freedom. I grew up in the suburbs of Florida and having a bike meant I could cruise around to friends’ houses on my own and experience a sense of independence that was a first as a little kid. Even as a kid, I remember somehow feeling “this is important.”

April 28th, 2015

Biking MomsFrom Left to Right: Naomi of Love Taza, Jen of Pedal Adventures, Lilia of Urban Family SF
We are inspired daily here at PUBLIC by our incredible biking community. As Mother’s Day approaches, we reached out to a select part of that community, biking mothers, and asked for their top tips for biking with children, why they bike with their kids and what being a mother means to them. Their responses were helpful, heartfelt and inspiring.

A huge high five to all biking mothers out there. This post is for you.

And if you’re in need of gift ideas for the biking mom in your life, check out our handy Mother’s Day Gift Guide.


Naomi of Love Taza

Naomi Riding Image Credit: Naomi’s husband Josh / Naomi biking with her and her two year old son, Samson.

Naomi’s 20 Word (more or less) Bio:
Over 7 years ago, Naomi started Love Taza where she chronicles bits and pieces of her life with her family in New York City. She is the mother of three little ones ages four and under. Love Taza celebrates motherhood, family, travel, good food and life’s simple joys! And she rides a PUBLIC dutch bike step-through.

Top tip for biking with kids?
Involve them as much as possible and make it fun! You can try playing a game of “I spy” while riding, or let them choose which way to go.

Why do you bike with your kids?
I’ve always loved biking, so it felt natural to continue to do so after our first little one arrived. It’s our favorite form of transportation, especially in NYC where more bike lanes and trails continue to be added. I think my kids get extra excited when we take out our bikes because they get to be beside us while taking in their surroundings and seeing everything as we explore together.

What does motherhood mean to you?
I don’t know if I can do it justice in just a few sentences! I love and adore being a mother. It means a million different things… It means long days and nights of chaos and spit up and sacrifice and guilt and sometimes I think I’ve gone mad! But it also means joy and love and growth and adventure and having the chance to spend my days with the sweetest little ones by my side. And nothing has ever topped that for me. So far, motherhood has been nothing short of an absolute honor.


Jen of Pedal Adventures

Jen Biking Image Credit: Pedal Adventures / Jen biking with her son.

Jen’s 20 Word (more or less) Bio:
Mom of boys. Consultant. Wanderer. Cyclist. Navigating loss, managing fear, living with courage, and taking the road less traveled. Founder of the inspiring blog about biking, motherhood and more, Pedal Adventures.

Top tip for biking with kids?
Start early, incorporate it into your lifestyle, get them a good bike starting with a balance bike, bring snacks, and don’t force them to ride.

Why do you bike with your kids?
Cycling is my passion so it was easy to introduce it to my kids. I like that cycling provides options for transportation, health, and most of all fun.

What does motherhood mean to you?
Motherhood is a chance to share, grow, and continually work on my patience.

How do you find balance? Is there such a thing?
Balance for me is a combination of achievement and enjoyment. Daily I try to do things that bring me joy, happiness, and enjoyment while also achieving something. Somedays the scale tips more to enjoyment and some days it’s more about achievement but ultimately I feel best when I get both.


Kit of Vie Bikes

Kit Riding Image credit: Jake Donham / Kit’s Birthday treat to herself was riding her eldest child over the Golden Gate Bridge. Silly face was extra bonus.

Kit’s 20 Word (more or less) Bio:
Co-Founder of Vie Bikes, a new San Francisco company helping families get rolling with their kids. I’m the mother of two little people living the good life by bike in the hills of San Francisco. Prior to co-founding Vie, I worked at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Transportation Alternatives in New York City and the Metropolitan Planning Council in Chicago, and now enjoy riding on the bike lanes I made happen. I started this company because I get stopped constantly by people who really want to know about my family bike. I went to Harvard College and aim to have hobbies again when my kids turn 18.

What’s your top tip for biking with kids?
Find the right bike — usually an electric assist — and choose good routes. Vie offers a free Family Biking Map and sample routes.

Why do you bike with your kids?
It’s just so convenient and a great way to live. We get more places, faster, and feeling great. Our kids spend more time together, enjoying each other’s company, and less time fighting and being crazy than when they’re in a car or on public transportation. I remain grounded in myself, because I’m building me time in to my everyday life, and feeling good physically and emotionally. Life is just so much harder without a bike.

What does motherhood mean to you?
Everything. It’s an indescribable blessing every day, and an enormous responsibility. I love being a mom!


Lilia of Urban Family SF

Lilia Biking Lilia biking with her daughter.

Lilia’s 20 Word (more or less) Bio:
Born in San Francisco, Lilia Scott is an artist and transportation planner. She bikes with her preschooler on an electric bike. You can learn more about her adventures on her blog.

What’s your top tip for biking with kids?
Get the right equipment, even if you have to buy it on credit. You need this more than you need your car.

Why do you bike with your kids?
Most importantly, because biking is fun. I’ve been a serious utilitarian urban cyclist throughout my adult life, and, like any religion, I want my daughter to know my beliefs. Finally, because it’s efficient, convenient, and good for the planet which she will inherit. Every second is precious, and I want her grinning ear-to-ear on a bike rather than strapped down encased in a car.

What does motherhood mean to you?
I asked my daughter what she thought of this question, and she answered “mommy is love,” which is about right. I never knew love like this was possible before becoming a mother. Creating and loving this small being puts everything into perspective, making it easier to drop insignificant irritations and set priorities right. (Of course, that also makes it very stressful — implementing known priorities.)


Dawn, Accessory Buyer/Inventory Manager at PUBLIC Bikes

Dawn Riding Dawn biking with her daughter.

Dawn’s 20 Word (more or less) Bio:
San francisco girl, wife, mama to a 2 year old, animal lover & rescuer of 1 dog & 2 cats, food & wine lover. Dawn rides a PUBLIC M8 Mixte, equipped with a Yepp Maxi Rear Child Seat.

What’s your top tip for biking with kids?
Start early! Make sure you have a double kickstand & a basket.

Why do you bike with your kids?
I bike for the fun and convenience of it and to stay out of the car. We don’t have to go far to daycare or work, so biking just makes sense. Plus, our daughter loves it and she is learning there are other ways to get around besides driving cars.

What does motherhood mean to you?
It’s unconditional love and putting someone else’s needs above all else. Motherhood is a chance for me to be my best self. Being a mother means I’m constantly challenged and pushed to my limits. I want to be a good role model, lead by example, and give my daughter the tools she needs to be a strong, kind and productive citizen.


Rosanna

Rosanna Biking Image Credit: William Henderson. Rosanna biking with her son.

Rosanna’s 20 Word (more or less) Bio:
Author, editor, and cook. Born in Oregon’s coastal range, raised in West Virginia, currently living in Portland.

What’s your top tip for biking with kids?
The really imperative stuff is common sense: make sure your biking arrangement is comfortable and safe for everyone, and go out on it often enough that your kid can anticipate the routine.

Also, a double kickstand is really nice for keeping the bike stable when loading and unloading.

Why do you bike with your kids?
Biking makes us happier than any other form of transportation. I think we all know how charming it is to drive a car with an unhappy kid in the back seat. It sounds incredible, but my son is *always* happy on the back of my bike, and even a trip to the grocery store is a fun outing. Plus, I really like arriving at my destination feeling invigorated and strong.

What does motherhood mean to you?
Helping new humans live happily on this planet without breaking it.

April 24th, 2015

Portraits by Alex Farnum PORTRAITS BY ALEX FARNUM

We’re partnering with local photographer Alex Farnum and creative director George McCalman on a series of 10 portraits of customers in San Francisco. Think about yourself being professionally featured by us. It’ll be fun.

We’re not looking for celebrities nor judging people by glamour standards. Instead, we’e after interesting true stories that communicate the diversity of everyday people who ride PUBLIC bikes.

Teachers, gardeners, musicians, pastry chefs, social workers, artists, lawyers, surfers, carpenters, baristas, programmers, librarians, dog walkers, or bankers. We’ll take all comers, and we’re more interested in your life and story than your occupation. But you must live or work in San Francisco to participate.

If selected, you’ll need to make yourself available for an extended interview and a portrait photography session. We’ll use these portraits in our stores, our website, and social media – and you will have editorial approval. Here is what we need:

  • A headshot or portrait of yourself. A selfie is preferred over anything professional or stylized.
  • One short paragraph about yourself, your background, and what makes you an interesting character.

We’ll give everyone who participates a $100 merchandise credit, but you should only volunteer if you’re excited about this project and have a story you’d like to tell.

Send your submission to hello{at}publicbikes{DOT}com before May 3. We’ll just follow-up and schedule photography sessions with those selected customers.

April 17th, 2015

PUBLIC SEATTLE THE PUBLIC STORE IN CAPITOL HILL COMING TOGETHER

Wow – we’re almost across the finish line. After months of planning and construction, we’re proud to announce that we’re officially opening our PUBLIC store in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood on Saturday, April 25 starting from 11am-7pm. Check out our Seattle store hours after April 25.

We had the chance to sit down with Mike, our new Capitol Hill Store Manager. Mike’s enthusiasm and vast experience in the outdoor retail world makes us confident that PUBLIC Bikes in Seattle is going to be one fun, friendly and knowledgable store. Read on to learn more about Mike (he’s hiked that Appalachian trail!) and make sure to swing by the store to say hello.

MikeCAPITOL HILL STORE MANAGER, MIKE

PUBLIC: Tell us a little about yourself.
Mike I was born in Maine and bounced up and down the east coast as a kid (Navy brat) before settling in North Carolina as a young adult. After six years in NC, my wife DeeAnna and I wanted to check out the west and I landed a position managing the Patagonia store in Portland, OR. After six years in Portland, DeeAnna realized a long time dream of pursuing a Master’s degree at a school in Seattle. We’ve been in Seattle for 4.5 years now.

PUBLIC: Where did you work before?
Mike: I just finished a stint as a sales rep for six great outdoor brands throughout Washington and Oregon. Being a sales rep was fun for the flexibility and getting to drive all over a terrific region of the country but all that travel was wearing me down!

PUBLIC: What do you like best about the Seattle?
Mike: It’s a long list. Here’s a few things: laid back culture, landscape, coffee, weather, beer, food, wine. I think it’s the prettiest city I’ve ever been to (no offense, SF).

PUBLIC: Tell us some fact or background about yourself that might surprise people.
Mike: I’ve got some hobbies (and quirks)…I love to cook and sew. I like to make messenger bags, small satchels, and hats. I made a little bag for my wife to carry around her hospital job and have ended up selling several to her friends in the hospital. I also love music and can be very opinionated on the matter. And an old, fun fact. When I was 18 I bought a cheap Porsche and loved it. When I was 19 I left the Porsche behind and hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.

PUBLIC: What’s your experience riding bikes in Seattle?
Mike: While living in Portland, I bike commuted religiously for six years. As a sales rep based in Seattle, I haven’t ridden much and getting back to a bike commute was a huge priority for me in joining PUBLIC. My ride to work is pretty long but I couldn’t be more excited about it!

PUBLIC: What are your favorite routes or places to visit by bicycle in Seattle?
Mike: I live in north Seattle and the route to Ballard and the Ballard Farmers Market is the best. Heading from there to Gas Works Park, then along the Burke-Gilman and Lake Washington to loop back towards home makes for a lovely day off.

PUBLIC: What are you looking forward to in leading the new PUBLIC Seattle store?
Mike: I’m really excited to bring the PUBLIC story more fully to Seattle. So many people prioritize relaxing on days off and the bikes we make are going to fit in so well in Capitol Hill and Seattle. The ride from our store to Pike Place Market is going to become a favorite for so many people and I can’t wait to hear those customer stories and see the photos!

April 17th, 2015

Lynn GIVEAWAY WINNER LYNN

We’re pumped to announce the very lucky winner of our Marine Layer + PUBLIC giveaway is singer/songwriter Lynn Cardona from Los Angeles, CA.

When Lynn is not behind the microphone she can be found hiking up to Griffith Observatory in LA, hitting a yoga class, or spending a lazy Sunday morning reading comics with her boyfriend, Arthur.

Lynn doesn’t currently have a bike and can’t wait to take to the roads on her new PUBLIC bike and “go for spins around Los Feliz when the weather gets nicer.”

Congratulations Lynn and many happy trails!

Sign up for our e-newsletter to hear about our next giveaway!

April 14th, 2015

Eric and his PUBLIC ERIC HEIMAN AND HIS PUBLIC BIKE / BY CHRISTINA JIRACHACHAVALWONG

Designers tend to be opinionated, aesthetically conscious and self-professed perfectionists. So when a designer like Eric Heiman selects a PUBLIC bike for his life, we feel especially complimented.

Eric and his business partner, Adam Brodsley run Volume Inc, a design agency that “specializes in creating artifacts, systems and experiences that activate people.” Eric has a background in architecture and music and teaches at California College of The Arts.

Eric has been a part of the PUBLIC family since early on by contributing one of his designs to our PUBLIC works project, and recently designing my new book, See for Yourself. But long before I knew Eric, he knew PUBLIC. He was one of our first customers back in 2009 and still commutes daily on his PUBLIC bike.

Eric was game enough to let us interview him about all things bike and design related.

Read on to learn more about Eric, one of the top talents in design today.

Rob Forbes

 

 

VOLUME INC YBCA ERIC HEIMAN / BY MARIKO REED

PUBLIC: How long have you been riding bikes?

Eric: Since I was a wee pup growing up in small town Pennsylvania.

PUBLIC: Do you remember your very first bike? If so, please describe it.

Eric: Yes. I was 5 or 6 and it was a red Schwinn with a banana seat. My dad put me on it a bit prematurely, and I proceeded to have a traumatic wipeout out on the sidewalk in front of our house. I worked my way back via training wheels for the next few months.

PUBLIC: How did you come to love bikes?

Eric: I think it was more out of necessity than anything else. If I wanted to get from point A to point B (especially in the years before I could drive) outside of walking the bike was the best option. When it wasn’t winter, anyway.

These were the days when we kids could run wild as long as we were home by dinner. It was good exercise, too! I also went through the inevitable “dirt bike” phase of popping wheelies, ramp jumps, etc. Had a few mishaps there, too, and I’m amazed I didn’t get seriously hurt.

Those were the days of ignorance-is-bliss parenting, which needs to come back! Eating dirt as a kid builds character! (Then again, I’m not a parent.) I had a classic blue Schwinn ten-speed all through high school, and then got a Bianchi mountain bike (which, coincidentally, the first design firm I worked at created the graphics for) in college. A bike has been a preferred form of transportation all my life, really.

PUBLIC Works Poster PUBLIC WORKS POSTER BY ERIC HEIMAN

PUBLIC: How did you come by your PUBLIC bike?

Eric: I actually have two. When the first PUBLIC bikes warehouse moved in across from our old studio space on Harrison Street, I walked in one day and was struck by both the bikes and the congenial staff. I had been looking for a new commuter bicycle after years of riding in the city on my mountain bike. After one test ride I was sold!

The second one I received for contributing one of the PUBLIC Works posters, and it is the one I ride now. The first one has become one of the communal bikes we keep around the Volume office for anyone to use.

PUBLIC: How does bicycling fit into your lifestyle?

Eric: Cycling is my main way of getting around town. I usually bike to and from work plus everything in between, client meetings included. It’s my main form of physical exercise. The hills in SF are no joke. I’ll take the fresh air and a little traffic over a gym any day. My car is almost 13 years-old now and has barely 45,000 miles on it. I should probably just sell it already.

PUBLIC: How often do you ride?

Eric: Almost every day, weather permitting. I’ll sometimes do longer rides on weekends, like to the beach and back.

PUBLIC: How does your PUBLIC Bike reflect your personal style?

Eric: I’ve never been a “flashy-style”-type of person—I would never ride a “fixie” bike or wear tennis shoes with a suit, just to name two things that come to mind. (Though I do like to sport orange pants every so often…) But, obviously, I do care about good design and for me that’s always been about a balance of style, function and accessibility to more than just an elite cadre of the high-minded. The PUBLIC bikes check off all these boxes.

PUBLIC: Describe your perfect day on a bike?

Eric: A day when I don’t have to wear layers! Haha. Any day I’m on my bike—minus riding through a rainstorm—is a perfect day, really. I’m easy. It’s such a great grounding and stress-alleviating activity for me.

Also, one of my favorite things to do when I travel is try the bike share programs in other cities. The last time I was in Paris, New York and Minneapolis, I barely took the subways or cabs. Even late at night. You see so much more a bike.

PUBLIC: Are bicycles an important part of the community you live in?

Eric: Relative to other American cities, San Francisco and the East Bay have pretty great bike cultures. But compared to some European cities—Amsterdam, Copenhagen—we have a long way to go before biking is as embedded into everyday life as it is in those cities. Most drivers here still seem to view us as nuisances that are in the way, not as equal partners on the road.

Masters of Design VOLUME INC MASTERS OF DESIGN / BY ROBERT DIVERS HERRICK

PUBLIC: How would you describe your creative style?

Eric: Modern (in the classic sense) and understated, but always with a flash of the idiosyncratic, unique and current. The Steve Zissou-like red cap I often wear and our YBCA campaign from a few years ago both fit this description, I think. Personally, I don’t like to call attention to myself too much. At the same time I don’t want to be like everyone else. I want to feel free to express myself as I truly am. So, yes, I will dance like a mad fiend if the right music is on. Or take the karaoke microphone if it’s handed to me and there’s a song I want to sing. In my work, I want to create something unique and engaging, but not at the expense of what it was originally commissioned to do. “Authentic” is a word that is way too overused today, but that’s the ideal I try to hold myself and our work to.

PUBLIC: Where do you find inspiration?

Eric: I tend to be a sponge in terms of inspiration, and the internet age has wrought havoc on my ability to actually stop absorbing and start making things. But I definitely gravitate more towards populist narrative forms—literature, film, music, graphic novels—than I do rarefied art and design (though as a graphic designer, my love of visual culture is hard coded into my DNA). I’m as much interested in the emotional and experiential potential of my work than I am the object nature of it. Getting it out to audiences beyond just other creatives is important, too. At Volume we always like to say, “It’s not what the design is, it’s what it does that’s important.” I like a beautiful, well-crafted item as much as the next person, but I’m equally interested in how design can enable, inspire, and provoke. I love the physical and visual quality of vinyl LPs and sleeves, but I still buy them primarily to enjoy the music. I love my bike because I can ride it (plus that awesome gear-shift mechanism!), not just ogle it behind a showroom window.

Inspiration also comes from just doing the work. It’s harder for me these days as the co-principal of a (depending on the day) 7-10 person studio to focus as much on the actual doing of the work. But when I do get the chance—even if it is just throwing ideas around in our weekly collaborative meetings or doing rough sketches—the best feeling in the world is watching design manifest through making. Today, it feels like there’s never been more books, seminars, email subscriptions, websites, and conferences on how to be happy in life and how to be inspired in your work. I realize I’m very fortunate to have this creative life I’ve made for myself, but for me the solution has always been simple: Figure out the work you want to do and then just do it.

PUBLIC: Any upcoming projects/partnerships/designs that you are excited about?

VOLUME INC YBCA VOLUME INC YBCA PROJECT / BY GABRIEL BRANBURY

Eric: We’re doing a lot more environment and exhibition-related work at Volume now. Even though the scale of these jobs makes them tough to wrangle at times, the larger scale and experiential possibilities are really appealing. I also think the design we collaborated on with your founder Rob Forbes for his book, See for Yourself, turned out well and I’m excited to see go out into the world. (Yes, that was a shameless plug, but I really am proud of that work!)

On a more personal note, I’m trying to get a writing project about my love of music off the ground in the coming year. Not sure what the format will be yet, but I’m guessing it will be influenced in equal parts by Nick Hornby, Chuck Klosterman, the “33 1/3” book series, and “Freaks and Geeks.”

If you enjoyed this interview with Eric Heiman, check out our interview with designer Erik Spiekermann.

April 6th, 2015

The many bikers of Seville.

“Seville is the poster child of the modern bicycle planning movement. Nothing less.”
Copenhagenize

I was just in Seville, Spain (population 700K) to ride around, study the urban layout and better understand how Seville became a model for enlightened city transportation and a leader in the city bike movement.

The most unique thing about the people who ride bikes in Seville is that they are not very unique. Basically, everybody rides, just as everybody walks, and it’s not a big deal. You see musicians, parents with kids, fashionable women, old dudes hunched over smoking cigarettes, one legged guys, tourists, commuters, the entire gamut. It is the two-wheeled definition of pluralism and democracy.

A flashy fixie in Seville

In the 2013 Copenhagenize survey of the Most Bike Friendly Cities, Seville ranked 4th out of 20 top cities, behind the bike-friendly powerhouses of Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Utrecht. This prestigious ranking on the part of Seville is a result of great political vision and will.

It’s a vision that’s very much in line with that of the Making Cities Liveable movement, a movement that focuses on “designing urban cities in a way that enriches the quality of everyday life of the city’s inhabitants.” Basically, Sevillanos were fed up with the noise, traffic and pollution generated by cars and buses and wanted a more liveable city where they could interact and live more openly.

The city officials heard their concerns and changes were made. Bike share programs were implemented and buses were replaced by light rail. (Horse drawn carriages were allowed to stay.) The results of these changes were impressive. The bike share program in Seville rose in usage from .5% in 2006 to 7% in 2013, according to Copenhagenize. And there is now over 180 miles of pleasant green bike track to ride along. I rode along it and was impressed by the robustness of it and high amount of usage.

Cool bike dividers, left. Seville’s bike share bikes, right.

Safety is always a key issue in biking. Curvy lanes go all around Seville, sometimes in parallel with sidewalks and sometimes crossing streets. Yet to keep things safe, there are cool little concrete markers and abundant signage.

Sane and respectful crosswalks of Seville.

In addition to the signage, people in Seville seem to have respect for pedestrians. Cars don’t whiz around at high speeds nor do they assume that their rights are more important than others. And everybody observes crosswalks. You will note that few cyclists wear helmets (a fact that’s true for most cities where infrastructure is set up to respect cyclists). Kids under 16 are required to wear helmets. It’s just very sane and civilized.

Seville isn’t new to this transportation thing. Magellan embarked from Spain on his first voyage to circumnavigate the globe. And while the miles of bike lanes in Seville aren’t enough for global navigation, it’s impressive to see how this Spanish city has made incredible strides in biking infrastructure and urban planning. It’s a place of civility and quality, and in my mind one of the most modern city designs in the world.

Happy riding and traveling,

Rob Forbes

650-rob-museum

Rob an his rented mixte at the Andalusian Center for Contemporary Art, Seville.