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Outwitting Thieves at PUBLIC

Outwitting bike thieves

A sad fact of life is that bikes get stolen. Even with the enlightened bicycle cultures in Denmark and Holland, hundreds of thousands of bikes get ripped off every year.  We watch this with consternation. With all the GPS tracking and smart technology, why hasn’t anyone come up with a universal solution? At this early stage of our company, designing a solution is beyond our reach. The best we can do for now is to include unique serial numbers on every PUBLIC bike for tracking and to offer a good selection of locks for all occasions. We keep our eyes open for new solutions, like this one from Japan sent in by a reader. Read on.

David Byrne. G.R. Christmas, courtesy PaceWildenstein The Butler and the Chef

The Eco Cycle automated bike storage system in Japan, designed by Giken, is almost identical to systems used throughout Europe in train stations to store luggage. They operate like an underground elevator for belongings and provide security, as well as convenience, and eliminate the need for a lock. They are marvelous, ingenious, and so appreciated by weary travelers who don’t want to lug their bags around the city.   These clever systems are not common in the United States, but neither are trains, sadly.

If a solution similar to the Eco Cycle popped-up in New York soon, we would not be surprised. The New York Department of Transportation has underwritten contests for bike rack designs in recent years that drew the likes of David Byrne. They continue to push for progressive polices in biking infrastructure. At the forefront of their policy making is Janette Sadik-Khan who we interviewed last year. Sadik-Khan has been voted in the “Top 100 Urban Thinkers” by Planetizen, celebrated by Fast Company, dubbed a genius by Esquire, heralded a street fighter by the American Prospect, and offered as a reason to love New York by NY Mag.

The lack of available and convenient modern bike storage in San Francisco is unfathomable to most of us. Even with our SF Bike Coalition boasting over 12,000 members, the City can’t seem to keep up with the demand for bike parking. Even if not quickly enough to please us, our city streets are changing. Since the bike injunction lifted last August, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority continues to repurpose street parking spots for bike corrals. In our car centric South Park neighborhood, a bike corral was just installed at our favorite French bistro The Butler and the Chef, just 50 yards down the street. Come visit. Have a signature quiche dish and stop by PUBLIC. We have some pretty cool racks, as well as locks, home storage solutions, and other stuff.  If you want to get a bike corral for your hood, go here.

Is there a silver lining to the bike thievery problem? Unlikely. But the subject is at the heart of one of the greatest classic movies in history, The Bicycle Thief by Vittorio De Sica. It’s Woody Allen’s favorite movie of all time. Another positive outcome is that bike locks themselves make for good visuals seen on the streets. Take for example the photo essay, Bondage in Amsterdam that we sent out last year after a trip to Amsterdam. The diversity in solutions is pretty cool.

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5 Responses to “Outwitting Thieves at PUBLIC”

  1. Jeff Bennison Says:

    Here’s an excellent film:

  2. Jess Says:

    How cool! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Vanessa Says:

    I appreciated your post. Since I deal with locking up in the city daily – this issue is always on my mind. Bring on the bike corrals! Also, recently spotted a fully suspended lock-up to scaffolding in NYC…


  4. Duncan Says:

    Hi Rob,

    I’m currently not on Facebook, however here are my favorite quotes regarding bicycles:

    “The bicycle is both a mighty machine in its own right, and a mighty metaphor for solutions which are already well within our grasp…”

    “The bicycle is a metaphor for behavioral solutions to “problems” which are framed as “technological.” The auto industry would love to sell us all new vehicles which claim to be 50% more efficient. Simply having two people in a car that usually carries only one person doubles the efficiency of the vehicle without any extra expense or conformity…”

    “Riding a bicycle in the city is a very freeing experience, both physically and psychologically. Riding in the city requires living in the present, and keeping one’s awareness expansive and flexible.”

    “Riding a bike is to live fully in the present. The only possible way to do so in a car would be to position yourself on the front bumper.”

    “The bicycle is the machine metaphor for doing more with less.”

    And finally:

    “Riding a bicycle in non-vehicular-traffic areas allows for the free association and meditative state which lends itself to creativity, problem-solving and imagination. That alone makes the bicycle a mighty machine–and metaphor.”

    I hope you & other readers find these meaningful, useful & entertaining!

    They come from one of my favorite bloggers who lives in Berkeley named Charles Smith & has a blog called Of Two Minds. He’s quite brilliant, amazing & deep. I’m always in awe that he produces practically a blog a day. I don’t know how he does this & maintains a life.



    Surprised & amused with the Japanese bike storage. Very, very clever indeed!



  5. Public Bikes » Biking in Memphis - Get on your bikes and ride Says:

    [...] next bike will be.  Maybe a road bike, maybe motocross, maybe a commuter bike. Whatever the case, this primer on bike security is worth reading. Posted in Commuting, Techniques | Tagged Public Bikes, [...]

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