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Win a 3-Night Stay at a Kimpton Hotel

Friday, July 19th, 2013

We’re incredibly excited to work with another San Francisco-based company, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, to debut custom Kimpton PUBLIC bikes at all their 60 nationwide boutique hotel properties.

To celebrate we’re giving away a 3-night stay at any Kimpton Hotel.

It’s easy to enter the contest. All you need to do is get your friends to enter the contest by signing up for our newsletter. Deadline to enter is September 30, 2013. Click here for contest details.

You are probably familiar with many of their hotels that exist in many cities across the country. We’re big fans and customers of Kimpton for their shared emphasis on design, high quality food and amenities. We frequently put our guests in their San Francisco properties. Some of our favorite Kimpton properties are the Hotel Monaco in Chicago, the Amara Resort & Spa in Sedona, the Hotel Palomar in San Francisco, and the 70 Park Avenue Hotel in New York. But all of their 60 hotels in 26 cities across the US reflect their commitment to the same high standards and that personal touch of a boutique hotel.

Kimpton has always been considered an industry leader and this program is one further example. They are the first boutique hotel brand with a national presence to offer custom bicycles for hotel guests at every property. You can read the full description of the nationwide Kimpton complimentary bike program here.

The bikes are complimentary for guests’ enjoyment, in keeping with Kimpton’s commitment to health, well-being and sense of fun and adventure. The Kimpton PUBLIC bike will be easy to spot on the street with its custom cherry-red frame with orange and blue accents, cream tires, matching double walled rims, brass bell, and rear basket. The three-speed mixte frame bikes make city riding a fun adventure for novices or expert cyclists alike.

So join the contest, and think about taking a Third Wheel on your next hotel stay at a Kimpton Hotel.

Get two free cocktails for $1. When you book your reservation at any Kimpton Hotel use promo code PUBLIC. For one dollar more than the best available room rate you’ll receive 2 free cocktails per night during your stay. This offer cannot be combined with any other promotions or packages, and some alternatives may apply based on each individual hotel property. Take advantage of this offer between July 22nd – September 30th, 2013 at Kimpton hotels across the country.

Coffee Comes to Public

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

St. Frank Under Construction at PUBLIC
St. Frank Under Construction

Kevin Bohlin St. Frank Coffee
Kevin Bohlin

St. Frank Coffee
St. Frank’s Texaccino

Benjamin Paz
Benjamin Paz

St. Frank Coffee

Starting this week at our South Park store you’ll see a big wooden crate on our porch, and within that box you’ll find fantastic coffee service and a barista from St. Frank Coffee. We’ve teamed up with St. Frank to offer our customers and passersby what we think are some of the best espresso and coffee drinks in the city.

There are numerous world-class coffee roasters and destinations in San Francisco: Sightglass, Ritual, Four Barrel, and Blue Bottle to name a few. All of these groups deliver superb coffee. We’ve partnered with St. Frank for numerous reasons. The founder Kevin Bohlin is a nationally recognized barista known for his service and smiles. Read more about him and St. Frank and their shop which is about to open on Polk Street in this SF Weekly.

Kevin and his crew fit in well with our PUBLIC staff and culture. His talented staff includes people like Benjamin Paz from Honduras. Benjamin overseas the sourcing of the highest quality beans from very small farmers in Honduras in what is referred to as “relationally sourced” coffee.

The coffee itself is superb, and like our bikes, tasteful, accessible, and friendly with a nod to the best European traditions. The Honduran beans are roasted here in San Francisco to Kevin’s exact standards. Our initial offering will include a simple and classic selection of espresso drinks. Come on down and meet Kevin, Benjamin, and the St. Frank crew. Make a pit stop for a terrific coffee. Walk or ride away with a smile and a little more pep.

Why are we doing coffee? Why not? Coffee and bicycles go together quite nicely. We like engaging our customers in conversation as often as possible. In my travels around the US and Europe I’ve seen so many great bike and coffee pairings, it just seems like an obvious addition to our store. Expect to see some other food and fuel offerings from PUBLIC in the future.


Public Protests: Istanbul (Now) and Amsterdam (Then)

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

The recent intense protests in Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul have brought attention to the value and meaning of Public Space. Istanbul has very little free open space, and the government had planned to replace one of its parks with a monument and a shopping mall. The lesson here is clear: mess with public space and you might set off national blowback and find yourself the center of international attention and criticism.

In Istanbul’s Heart, Leader’s Obsession, Perhaps Achilles’ Heel
By Michael Kimmelman

“So public space, even a modest and chaotic swath of it like Taksim, again reveals itself as fundamentally more powerful than social media, which produce virtual communities. Revolutions happen in the flesh. In Taksim, strangers have discovered one another, their common concerns and collective voice.” Read on.

Defenders of Public Space in The International Herald Tribune
By Harvey Morris

“The privatization of the public realm, through the growth of ‘private-public’ space, produces over controlled, sterile places which lack connection to the reality and diversity of the local environment, with the result that they all tend to look the same,” Ms. Minton wrote in a report for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. “They also raise serious questions about democracy and accountability.” Read on.

Transportation Chief Talks of Giving the Public More Public Spaces
By Clyde Haberman

“ ‘People are very possessive and passionate about public space,’ said Ms. Sadik-Khan, the New York City transportation commissioner. ‘When it’s taken away, I’m not surprised that there’s a strong reaction. If you took away Central Park …’ She didn’t finish the sentence. She didn’t have to. New York would surely have a popular uprising on its hands.” Read on.

It often it takes a riot, or some equivalent dramatic event, to get the attention of societies, government, and developers. And it has always been this way in the modern world. The entire biking movement of the last fifty years in fact owes its existence to public protests over the intrusion of automobiles into public space. It’s easy to forget that places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen were not always bike friendly and that public protest allowed them to develop and flourish, as this video makes clear.

How the Dutch Got Their Cycle Paths

These issues are near and dear to us at PUBLIC, where we think of bikes as one of greatest assets that allow us to more fully appreciate and enjoy our communities and public space. Thanks to the citizens of Istanbul for their courage and for reminding us that the issue is global one.


Put a Load on Your Rack

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Do these loads look unreal? They are. French photographer Alain Delorme embellished photos captured in Shanghai as a commentary on the Chinese economy and global consumerism. These compelling images entitled Totems feature migrants who bear the physical brunt of the fast-paced economy by hauling wares on their bikes and carts, like improvised trucks.

All PUBLIC Racks are on sale till June 18th.

Most of us don’t consider a bike complete without a rack, and 70% of our customers attached a PUBLIC Rack to their bike for good reason: it makes riding more enjoyable and functional. The rear of the bicycle frame is the most stable part of the bike and the most logical place to carry extra weight. And
if you’re used to carrying weight on your back, your body will thank you when you switch to one of these.

A rack allows people to carry their everyday awkward goods effortlessly with them when they ride such as laptops, u-locks, food, and other bulky items. And with a rack, many other possibilities open up: basket, pannier, or bag. (We have many to choose from and some are on sale too.) Our racks are unique. We design them ourselves to match our bike colors and for easy installation by anyone. They are an everyday good value and a special deal this week.

Was $65 Now $49
The most practical rack is our PUBLIC Rear Rack with Spring Clip. Our spring clip rat trap feature makes it practical and convenient for everyday lightweight objects and clothes. This rack can fit most bikes with 700c wheels & seat stay braze-ons.
Was $65 Now $49
Even our new city road bike PUBLIC R16 has a compatible matching Slender Rear Rack option so you can carry weight on longer recreational rides.
Was $60 Select Colors $25
Some customers even like to increase their carrying capacity by adding a PUBLIC Front Rack too. All PUBLIC Front Racks are discounted, select colors as low as $25.

NYC Bike Share Raves and Rants

Friday, June 7th, 2013

The launch of bike share in New York City, aka CitiBike, is probably the most significant transportation development in the city – and perhaps the country – in decades. Six thousand bikes, 33 stations, and 15,000 bike trips in its first day of operations. Credit Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation Janette Sadik-Khan and numerous NYC groups for a program will have far reaching implications.

Everyday it seems there is another news article across all media with rants and raves. Thankfully the New Yorker brought a sense of humor and poignancy with its cover illustration.  There is not much we can add to the discussion that has not already been said. But we wanted to share some links and to alert you to the fact that Janette Sadik Khan will be in San Francisco next week. She is giving a keynote address at the San Francisco Bike Coalition (SFBC) Golden Wheels event. Here is a chance to meet one of the most influential and articulate leaders in modern transportation thinking and planning on the planet.

I had the good fortune to meet and interview her two years ago for this post titled “The First Lady of Livable Cities”. We are super fortunate to have her here in San Francisco. If you are local don’t pass up this opportunity to hear her and meet her.  All proceeds go to support the SFBC who work tirelessly to make San Francisco a smarter and more livable city for all of us.

Some summary notes and links on the New York CitiBike program.

The program is off to a phenomenal start. Check out the stats here.

New York City’s leaders took best practices from around the world where bike share has been already implemented in hundreds of cities.

Complaints about bike share are predictable, but over time reasoned arguments generally prevail, as summarized in Business Insider’s article “New York’s Bike Share Is Brilliant, And Every Complaint About It Is Bogus”.

The joyful optimism perfectly captured by New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham here.

The wildest curmudgeon rant we have seen comes from Wall Street Journal Editorial Board Member Dorothy Rabinowitz who may be taking up where Michele Bachman is leaving off.  “Death by Bicycle” is the title for this diatribe.

Our friends at Pentagram Design have been active in this program. See here.

The largest bike share program is in Hangzhou, China, which is 10 times the size of New York City’s program. Here are Bike Sharing Maps from 29 cities around the world.

Credit Mayor Bloomberg and Janette Sadik-Kahn  for a program that will have far reaching implications.  It will do for NYC and the US what the phenomenal Velib program did for Paris and France launched in 2007.

We look forward to watching other cities in the US playing catch up.  Hello San Francisco.

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s annual Golden Wheels event on Thursday, June 20.


Bike Superhighway for Los Angeles?

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

I grew up in Pasadena, California close to Los Angeles. Pasadena is well known for the Rose Parade, a festival of flowers, which dates back to 1890. But more interesting perhaps during the 1890s with a population of 500,000, there were 30,000 cyclists, i.e. 6% of the population rode bikes. Biking was so popular that a biking superhighway toll road was nearly implemented from Pasadena to LA. But the car craze took over, and the rest is history. LA is known for its legendary traffic jams. And Pasadena is known for having the first freeway in the world. The Rose Parade is now officially the “Rose Parade presented by Honda”.

But there have been amazing developments in LA’s transportation system recently. Light rail is being developed throughout the city, helping to restore a streetcar transportation system that existed before GM and other companies had them ripped up.

Bike paths are popping up everywhere like the ones that I saw in Santa Monica last week. LA’s Ciclavia is on a roll and has an amazing event planned for June 23rd to close Wilshire Boulevard to traffic. Maybe it’s time to rethink that 1897 bike superhighway?

Bike Spotting (and Counting) on Market Street

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Velometer asks: “Why count bikes?  Because we want bikes to count.”

As part of this year’s San Francisco Bike to Work Day, the city debuted its first digital bicycle counter on Market Street, one of the city’s busiest transportation corridors.  Watch this stop motion video here.

On Bike to Work Day alone, bicycles accounted for 76% of traffic on sections of Market Street during peak commuter times.

There are digital bicycle counters in several European cities, including many in Copenhagen.  We reported on this a few years back in our blog post, Quantifying Civilization.

Copenhagen Bicycle Counter from PUBLIC Bikes on Vimeo.

We wrote: “The stream of cyclists felt like the very definition of freedom and self-reliance. And people looked happy and alive as they pedaled along on their way to work or school—it was a collective experience of a high order.  I submit that this bike counter is as good a “civilization meter” as anything that history has provided.”  Watch a video capturing the bicycle counter in Copenhagen here.

You’ll count more people riding bikes in Copenhagen than in San Francisco on most days. But we’re making serious progress.  Kudos to San Francisco, Kongregate, SFMTA, SF Bicycle Coalition and all the good folks who helped to make this happen.

Another great thing to count on Market Street everyday are the numbers of people riding PUBLIC bikes.  Thanks to all of you for being part of this transformation.


Italian Women

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

We were touring Italy last month checking out the urban biking scene in a range of cities. This makes for some interesting comparisons to the United States and leads us to this quiz:

What is the biggest difference in urban biking in Italy compared with the US?

1. Many Italian cities have retrofitted separate bike lanes in their cities.

2. Bicyclists can ride in bus lanes and on sidewalks without irritating pedestrians.

3. Bicyclists are not intimidated by cobblestone streets, streetcar tracks or rush hour traffic.

4. There are more older people than younger people riding bikes.

5. Helmets are rarely seen except on tourists.

6. Taxis, busses, trucks, and trams all seem to respect cyclists.

7. Bike Share programs are common even in smaller cities.

8. Lycra is not the prevalent dress code.

9. E-bikes are everywhere, and some are quite elegant.

10. There are more nuns riding bikes.

Ok, that was a fake quiz. All of the above are true. The biggest difference is that you see a lot more women riding than men. Mothers texting while riding, older women with groceries, younger women headed to work. They all seem to ride confidently making left hand turns in traffic and riding over rail lines, without looking stressed out. Perhaps this is what accounts for the seeming lack of road rage, the lower levels of testosterone on the streets?

What makes this all the more interesting is that the Italians love their cars (and speed) like almost no other nation on Earth. They have an illustrious tradition that ranges from common Fiats and Alfa Romeos to fancy Ferraris, Maseratis, Bugattis, and many other iconic cars. Car ownership per capita is much higher than any other major European country, despite the fact that they pay more for gas than any other European country (~ $10 a gallon). But they seem to get along on their city roads. Italians taught us to respect and enjoy pizza and pasta. Perhaps they can teach us how to respect and enjoy each other on the streets?


Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Our 2013 PUBLIC bikes just arrived this week, so we are back in stock on almost all models and there are a range of new colors and new models, even including a road bike. We’ve made some minor changes in some visual details, such as new stripes, we’ve upgraded our handle bar grips, and even added water bottle cage braze-ons to our higher end bikes. On top of it all, we’re kicking off the season with special prices across the boards.

Our most popular PUBLIC C7 for example is now available in a classic red and priced at $449 (regularly $595).

We added two new, 7-speed internally geared city bikes the PUBLIC C7i and PUBLIC V7i priced at $649 (regularly $795) in royal blue and red in the step-through frame style and black in the classic diamond frame style.

If you’re new to internally geared bikes, these allow you to shift gears when stationary or coasting for easy stop-and-go riding. With the gears sealed in the rear hub, the bikes are more impervious to bumpy roads, bad weather and the all the challenging conditions that daily city riding dishes out. If you can find a lower priced 7-speed internally geared bike with similar PUBLIC features – buy it!

We’ve been fine-tuning our premium 8-speed internal hub PUBLIC M8i and PUBLIC D8i since we launched. These are available in a range of new colors and we are back in stock on the larger sizes that tend to sell out quickly. We’ve priced these at $899 (regularly $1095) to kick off the season.

We are introducing our first ever city road bike, the PUBLIC R16, to meet the requests for an affordable and classic road bike for the modern commuter and weekend recreational rider. We are having a contest in which we will give away two of these city road bikes. Enter contest here.

All models can be shipped to your door 99% assembled, Ready to Ride. Roll into this summer with a smile.


NEW PUBLIC R16 Road Bike – Win One

Friday, April 26th, 2013

We are excited to introduce the first ever PUBLIC city road bike. Taking inspiration from classic and vintage steel framed road bikes, the PUBLIC R16 is a stylish 16 speed lightweight bike designed for the modern commuter and weekend recreational rider. We will have the R16 in stock by late May available in three sizes in black, cream, and green. But before we make these available for sale to the general public, we are giving two away to lucky winners. The R16 is priced at $1195 with a special introductory price of $999 this spring.


1. Share the contest with a friend by entering their email address here.

2. Share the contest with your friends on facebook. Get three friends to sign-up and qualify to win.

If you’re already on our email list, then you are automatically entered into the contest. Everyone who enters the contest opts-in to the PUBLIC email list. Deadline to enter is June 1, 2013.