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Espress Lane: Baristas and Bicycles

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Bike shops often get a bad rap for having attitude or being unfriendly to anyone but bike geeks. That’s changing big time. What could say “take your time, you’re welcome here” better than a friendly, on-site barista?

We were in Minneapolis last month. We stopped by the Angry Catfish bike shop where the barista served us this cappuccino with the foamy heart shaped adornment. It was nothing special for him – just another coffee.  But it was very special. How many other kinds of retail stores provide this sort of pleasure? Maybe in Italy, but here in the US – and in a bike store?

It turns out that quite a few bike shops across the country boast a café – it’s becoming part of the culture. In San Francisco we have the Mojo Bicycle Cafe, a terrific local establishment where the modest barista allowed me to film her finishing off my cappuccino. Other caffeinated bike shops we have visited include the Juan Pelota Café at Mellow Johnny’s in Austin, and One on One in Minneapolis where you can find Moose and Masi’s together.

Ride Studio Café Serves coffee and PUBLIC bikes

This cool bike shop in Lexington, MA, just opened. They are carrying a range of PUBLIC bikes as well as their own Honey bikes. Both are pretty sweet. For information on what other bike shops carry PUBLIC bikes click here.  Not all these stores make and serve cappuccinos, but they are known for service and smiles.

If you frequent a bike café, tell us in the comments below, and we’ll make a list of them to share on our website. We’re guessing that Portland or Seattle might have five or six, given the regional addiction to coffee in the northwest. And if you send us a video clip of a worthy cappuccino foam topping, we’ll post it and send you a surprise gift from PUBLIC. Surprise gift means whatever item we have too many of. We’ll give you credit of course, but this contest is just for coffee nuts like ourselves.

Caffeine Powered Bike Shops

The First Lady of Livable Cities

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Meet Janette Sadik-Khan

Janette Sadik-KahnI was lucky enough to meet and interview the First Lady of Livable Cities, Janette Sadik-Khan (and NY Times profile) in New York last month. (Her actual title is Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation.) Sadik-Khan oversees the way people get around in the Big Apple.  It’s one of those jobs that is a little hard to get your head around: she manages 793 bridges and over 300,000 streetlights on a daily basis.  And there are impromptu events everyday. For example, we watched President Obama land in his chopper from her 9th floor window office and the ensuing traffic problems as a result of his motorcade. No two days are the same.

I am a big fan because she has done more to make US cities livable than any recent person we know.  You’re welcome to challenge me on that in the comments below. I would be happy to meet another person in the US who surpasses her in accomplishments.

Consider these recent New York City milestones:

  • Transforming Times Square into a pedestrian zone
  • 200 miles of on street bike lanes
  • 1200 new outdoor bicycle racks
  • 600 signs to guide cyclists
  • 35% increase in commuter cycling from 2007–2008.  Think about that. 35%.

The changes she brought about in New York set an example for other smaller, less complex urban environments. You only have to go to Manhattan and pedal around to appreciate what these accomplishments mean.  You can get almost anywhere in New York City pretty easily.  And riding across one of the bridges is a real thrill.

Her actions and leadership make so much sense in light of the BP Gulf Coast debacle. We can chastise BP and “Big Oil” all we want. But as long as our society maintains the current rate of oil consumption, we should can expect more disasters to occur.  Sadik-Khan’s rationale for reducing cars in the city has less to do with preventing future natural disasters and more to do with solving immediate and pragmatic urban issues of congestion and mobility.

According to Sadik-Khan, “projections show that one million more people are expected to move to New York City over the next 20 years.  Mayor Bloomberg’s plan for the city recognizes that the only way to accommodate that growth is to improve public transit and make cycling a real transportation option for New Yorkers.”

It is great to see a woman in a leadership position like this.  US transportation design culture (cars, bikes, trains) has traditionally been male dominated. Robert Moses might have his own opinion.

Hear Sadik-Khan and join PUBLIC in Copenhagen

If you get a chance to meet or hear Janette Sadik-Khan talk, it’s worth it.   Later this month she’ll be addressing an international audience at VELO City in Copenhagen. We’ll be there too, so come ride with us.

Meet the PUBLIC Contest Winners

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Congratulations to the PUBLIC contest winners. We thought we’d share some of the winners below so you can see the diversity and creativity of entries.  And a huge thank you to everyone who entered. But first, the winners…

Grand Prize Winner, PUBLIC M3

Lauren Gerrie
New York City, New York
Chef. Artist. Observer.

1st Runner up

Brandi Adams
Washington, DC
Advisor. Reader. Believer in Good Design.

2nd Runner up

Curt Nickisch
Boston, Massachusetts
Radio journalist. Outdoorsman. Soccer fan.

3rd Runner up

Marisa Gaggino
Royal Oak, Michigan
Antique shop owner. Blogger. Detroit Lover.

Honorable Mention

Amanda Moon
Austin, Texas
Photographer. Furniture connoisseur. Bacon enthusiast

Don Stevenson
Charlottesville, Virginia
Editor. Family man. Treehouse idealist.

Mary Lucking
Phoenix, Arizona
Artist. Biker. Enigma.

Shawn Turner
Carmichael, California
Illustrator. Teacher. Swimmer.

Brandon Cole
Chicago, Illinois
Editor. Tuff. Cat-daddy.

Jim Ventosa
Baltimore, Maryland
Husband. Father. Nerd.

Jason Nifong
Lexington, North Carolina
Dad. Son. Cycling Enthusiast.

And now, the winning entries…

Lauren Gerrie

I am always early.
9th Street Espresso. Iced red eye.

You arrive. Introductions and firm handshakes are exchanged.

My iced beverage sits in a cup holder centered on the handlebars of my vintage burgundy Panasonic 10 speed.

We’re off.
Buying groceries for a dinner party my company, bigLITTLE Get Together, is hosting this evening.

Union Square Farmers Market: Ramps. Ronny Brook Butter. Fennel. Pears. Rooftop Honey

Bleeker Street between 6th and 7th Avenue.
Murray’s Cheese: Mascarpone.
Lobster Place: Mussels

First Avenue between 5th and 6th St.
Tinto Fino: Mar De Vinas Albariño. Muga Rosé

Houston between Orchard and Allen.
Russ & Daughters: Walnuts. Dried Strawberries

Avenue B between 2nd and 3rd Street.
Sigmund Pretzels: Classic Salt

3rd Street between Avenue C and D
My apartment.
Lock up.
Unload baskets.
Walk up six flights of stairs.
Unpack groceries and begin to make dinner.


Roasted Ramp Compound Butter with Soft Pretzels
Albariño Mussels with Fennel
Whipped Mascarpone with Black Pepper Poached Pears and Honey
Toasted Walnuts and Dried Strawberries paired with Rose

Brandi Adams
Washington, DC

Were you to come with me for a bike ride that could only last an hour, you might expect a whirlwind tour through Washington DC: a ride past at the Capitol building, a moment at the White House in the hopes of seeing the President himself, or a long ride around the reflecting pool on an early evening when cherry blossoms have fully bloomed, their pedals following your bike in a cotton candy stream.

No. I would take you to none of these places.

Instead, we would go to a little known part of town, Petworth, and ride east to quiet, stately grounds.  The guard at the gate would wave us in as we were just there to take in the landscape and green quiet of the Armed Forces Retirement Home.

During my first visit  I got lost walking the grounds and several retired soldiers stopped to talk and direct me on my way.

One gentleman said, “This would be easier if you weren’t on foot.”

I couldn’t help but agree. With a bike we could examine history through landscape, architecture and humanity with friendly avuncular men with stories that we would otherwise never hear.

Curt Nickisch
Boston, Massachusetts

We’d start where I live and pedal through the Arnold Arboretum, a swatch of rolling hills of exotic trees in Harvard’s care for 137 years.  Then we’d spin out and along Centre Street in Boston’s Jamaica Plain, a collection of urban neighborhoods whose Victorian tripledecker homes recall the history of this country neighborhood for old Boston.

This route swings us past the original Samuel Adams brewery and around to Jamaica Pond, the only natural pond in Suffolk County and the source of ice – and skating competitions – during the 1800s.

Then we’d coast down the bike path along the Emerald Necklace, a string of parks designed by the first landscape architect Frederick Olmsted, then past Fenway Park and on to the bike path that nudges the Charles River for miles.

We’d skirt the water along the Esplanade, pedaling easily with the breeze that pushes a flock of sailboats, around to where that ‘dirty water’ empties into the harbor and we can admire the Bunker Hill Monument over in Charleston, (where one of my ancestors gave his life in that battle for our great democracy).   Finally, we’d ride into the North End to savor a valedictory cannoli!

Marisa Gaggino
Royal Oak, Michigan

Detroit must be seen on bike to appreciate its fragile, tough beauty.  We would start at Eastern Market, a 100+ year old farmer’s market and head south to the Dequindre Cut, a newly paved bike path through what was once a rail line, the remains are covered in spectacular and changing graffiti. We head west along the Detroit Riverwalk, where enlightened leadership saw fit to make preserve the river as public asset instead of a wasteland.  First we have to weave through some of the oldest brick streets, lined with the remains of industrial facilities with names like Stroh’s and Packard, across the international waterway Hiram Walker in Windsor.  Landscaping is indigenous plants, morel mushrooms even! And benches! Now people can actually linger and watch the boats go by.  What a thing to see Detroiters smiling at one another. A quick trip along Jefferson leads us to Belle Isle, an island in the middle of the river, across a bridge we can see the elegant 20′s country club, boathouse, the magnificent beaux arts fountain, conservatory and aquarium. This is a migratory pattern and flying over our heads, are geese, ducks, and there’s swan and herons in the pond, deer nearby. Folks are fishing in the river and having huge family barbecues. The meadow’s up ahead, the city completely disappears, past a monument and at the end we look out to the river’s mouth and the vast sparkling waters of Lake St. Clair.

The PUBLIC Contest Winner: Lauren Gerrie

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Contest Winner: Lauren Gerrie“Oftentimes people will ask if it is hard to ride a bike in heels. It’s not,” Lauren says. “In fact, it makes wearing heels that much easier because your feet hurt less from not having to walk around. I put together my outfits based around the assumption that I will be riding my bike. This opens my world of options up tenfold. I tell you what, a girl cannot stand/walk around this city in 4″ stilettos for that long, but she sure as hell can ride in them for hours on end.”

Meet Lauren Gerrie. She is our kind of PUBLIC advocate. And winner of the PUBLIC contest.

She came to New York to dance professionally and later co-founded her own company, bigLITTLE Get Together, to provide contemporary urban cuisine for unique occasions. The bigLITTLE team use their bicycles for their shopping adventures.

Lauren cruises Lower Manhattan by bicycle because it’s economical and faster than other modes of transport. She even commutes at 5 am to her other job as pastry chef in Williamsburg at Marlow & Sons/Diner. From her East Village apartment, she crosses the bridge and gets to work in seven minutes door to door, while enjoying the silence and beauty of a city that is mostly still asleep.

What does Lauren like to do for fun? Lauren says, “Late night rides with a pack of friends, everyone decked out in the their finest threads, wind blowing through their hair, laughter filling the thick humid air, jumping from party to party, roof top to roof top, then locking up at 5am with the sun rising and listening to the birds waking up. Perfection.”

We’re excited to meet Lauren when several of us will be in New York City later this month for our launch ride and event. She’ll also be giving us a bike tour, inspired by her online contest submission, on her new PUBLIC M3.