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Archive for the ‘Bicycle Safety’ Category

Top Pedestrian Pathways

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

We came across the simple video above from City Lab, juxtaposing a 1901 video of New York City with footage from today of the exact same street. The video showed how sidewalks in 1901 were wider and more pedestrian-friendly, and it got us thinking.

While that specific street in New York might not be as wide today, New York has set an incredible precedent with urban design in other ways.

The High Line, New York City’s lofted pedestrian walkway is one great example.

The High Line, NYC. Image Credit: Wikipedia.

And the New York City’s recent transformation of Times Square into a car-free haven with cafe tables, chairs and planters is another.

NYC's Times Square. Image Credit: Snøhetta.

There are so many ways cities around the world are getting it right.

In 2013 Mexico City launched an ambitious project to transform the city center into a better place for pedestrians and cyclists. The below image of Madero Street before and after shows big improvement.

Mexico City's Madero Street. Images Credit: ITDP.

The Shuman Bridge in France, is both a wonder in design and function. It connects walkers and bikers directly to the heart of the historic city, Lyon.

Shuman Bridge, France. Image Credit: Michel Denancé.

The Netherlands is the poster child for innovative pathways for bikes and pedestrians, and the Nescio Bridge is just one example of many. This bridge in Amsterdam links people from the city to the suburbs, rising over the Rhine canal.

Nescio Bridge, Amsterdam. Image Credit: The Botster.

Best New Bike Apps for City Biking

Friday, September 19th, 2014

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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

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


Traffic Jams In All Forms

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Take a look at these eerie images of cars abandoned in a Belgium forest. These amazing, haunting images by Rosanne de Lange were actually taken at one of the biggest car cemeteries in the world – the Chatillion Car Graveyard in Belgium.

As discussed on this blog, “According to an urban legend these cars were left behind by US soldiers from World War II, who could not ship them back to the US so they decided to hide them in a forest until they could come back and retrieve them. The locals disagree and say that it’s simply an old car dump of vehicles made after the WWII”.

Click on the above images to share them via Facebook.

Traffic has been in the news a lot lately, including the 8+ hours to get to the playa of Burning Man’s Black Rock City to thousands of concert goers missing a Paul McCartney concert at the last event at Candlestick Park due to the Big Jam.

We’ve written about traffic before on our blog. More bicycles, better public transit, and improved walkable neighborhoods helps. But most importantly, we need to recognize that when we get in our cars, we’re not just stuck in traffic – we are traffic. Feel free to share this image out on Facebook.

Congestion and its effect on quality of life is an issue in almost every US city. We’re not going to solve this problem by building wider roads, at the expense of walkable, livable neighborhoods, or encouraging more cars on our already congested roads.

Even in a progressive city like San Francisco, there are people who are determined to reverse the city’s efforts to reduce car congestion and prioritize transit and walkable neighborhoods. In this November’s ballot San Francisco voters will be asked to weigh in on Proposition L. We at PUBLIC are encouraging our customers and fans to vote No on Gridlock (No on Prop L). Learn more here.


Bait Bikes, Twitter – Bike Thieves Beware

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Bike theft is an unfortunate fact of life all around the globe, but in the Bay Area even the police are using smart phones and social to nab thieves. And it’s paying off.

Officer Matt Friedman of San Francisco and his colleagues are on a mission to blunt bike theft and to do this he’s making bikes smarter, and then posting about it on Twitter.
Officer Friedman nabs bike thieves with “bait bikes”, high-value wheels embedded with gps tracking devices that are left outside with the intent of being stolen. Once the bike is stolen, the tracking device is triggered and the police are led right to the thief. This video from The New York Times article, “Police Use High Tech Lures to Reel In Bike Thieves,” even shows a bike thief stealing a bait bike and being apprehended.

After a bike thief is apprehended, Officer Friedman posts a photo of the bad guy to Twitter, using the handle @SFPDBikeTheft. This public shaming of the thief is intentional. Friedman wants to send a message to other bike thieves that “we’re on to your game and you could be next.”

This gets us at PUBLIC thinking that there needs to be more creative ways that technology can be used to deal with this problem. In a world where people can space travel and control drones from thousands of miles away, there has got to be a way for everyday people to keep their bikes safe from everyday thieves.

We’re interested in developing new smart locks to reduce bike theft. We’d like to partner with experienced techies who can help us design and develop some smart products. Send us an email here.

But just as importantly, you should be knowledgeable about the basics of theft prevention. Here is a great theft prevention guide from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.


How Does Your Bike Locking Grade?

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Lock Up Your Wheels The Right Way

Locking up your bike appears a task as obvious as brushing your teeth. Open lock. Thread lock through bike to something solid. Done. But, like teeth brushing, there’s a right way and a wrong way. This freshly cut vimeo highlighted last week in The Atlantic Citiesis the fourth video installment on bike locking from the brutally-honest New York bike mechanic, Hal Ruzal. In this installment Ruzal walks around New York grading people’s bike locking skills from A (well locked) to F (poorly locked).

This video was released in honor of National Bike Month and it’s a good reminder for places like San Francisco where an average of 11 bikes are stolen per day. As we’ve written before, this is a global problem and even bike-focused cites like Denmark see over 100,000 bikes per year stolen. The truth is many of the thefts are related to user error and are avoidable.

In short, Ruzal’s tips boil down to the basics: 1) Get the best quality U-lock you can. We recently released the latest Kryptonite Series 5 Mini U-Lock and highly recommend it; 2) Lock your frame (not just your wheels) to a solid pole or a bike lock—wooden posts and chain link fences don’t count; 3) For quick release wheels either remove the front wheel and lock with your back wheel and frame, carry a cable or extra lock to secure them or purchase a set of locking axle nuts like these so your wheels can’t be quickly removed; and 4) Permanently lock/attached your seat to your bike.

For more resources on bike locking check out the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s thorough page on Theft & Locking. And if you live in a city where you can register your wheels (San Franciscans, head here) make sure you do this.

Bike To Work Bay Area

Friday, May 9th, 2014

Supervisor London Breed on Cream PUBLIC C7

Yesterday the Bay Area celebrated the 20th Anniversary of Bike to Work Day with an impressive amount of bikers hitting the road. One major San Francisco thoroughfare tallied that nearly 76% of the trips made on it yesterday were done by bike. Well done, San Francisco!

The month of May is National Bike Month and we’re happy to see so many people participating in Bike to Work Day. Of course, we think everyday should be Bike to Work Day for anyone who works less than 5 miles from home. In the Bay Area alone, more than one million Bay Area residents live within five miles of their workplace.

If you’re considering biking to daily as part of your commute, but not sure where to start, check out the San Francisco Bike Coalition for maps and tips and more. If you’re a bike-to-work regular or just getting into biking, drop us a line and let us know how your bike commute went yesterday

Imagine how less congested our streets would be and how much healthier and happier people would be if more people made the choice to bicycle, walk, or take public transit to work.

We’re lucky to live in San Francisco where bicycling is a mainstream activity and the majority of our local elected officials recognize the value of bicycling. This year, 9 out of 11 local elected Board of Supervisors, our Mayor, and our District Attorney all participated in Bike to Work Day with thousands of other residents. Bike to Work Day helps remind these elected officials to fully fund and prioritize initiatives like Connecting the City which creates safe and accessible bikeways for anyone from 8 to 80 years old.

We know cities can get more people to bicycle if they create separated bikeways like this new one on Polk Street near City Hall. It takes political will and funding to make these changes happen on our public streets.

We encourage you to find out more about your local Bike to Work Day activities – and support your local and statewide bicycle advocacy organizations working to make bicycling better for all of us.

Bike to Work Day 2014 photos by SF Bike Coalition

Be Seen (and Heard!) With Our Flashy New Bells

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014
Woodpecker Bell New Bells Incredibell Original Bell
New Bells Disco Bell New Bells
Public Bell New Bells Federico Red Brass Bell

The simple bicycle bell is one of our favorite bike essentials. An often-overlooked accessory, a bell adds personality and safety to your ride. Easier than hollering and whistling to announce your presence, bells are a simple way of alerting bikers, pedestrians and cars of your approach. We have a new selection of bells for all styles of riders, from unique bells crafted of cherry wood to bells equipped with flashing disco LED lights. Visit our website to see (and hear!) our fun new bell collection.

A Smarter Bike Light: PUBLIC + Revolights Kickstarter

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

PUBLIC Bikes + Revolights Arc Kickstarter

We are excited to announce our partnership with Revolights and to support the launch of their third Kickstarter project: the Revolights Arc, a smarter approach to the bicycle taillight.

Revolights is an innovative Bay Area bike light design company, and we’ve been fans ever since they launched their first product on Kickstarter in 2011. So we were honored when they approached us to collaborate on a line of theft-resistant, commuter bike lights designed around the fenders that come standard on our PUBLIC bikes. This innovation alone is noteworthy, but they went even further to design a platform that could provide brake lights and turn signals as well. We think it could be a game changer for city cyclists.

You can watch Revolights co-founder Kent Frankovich appear on Shark Tank this upcoming Friday, March 7 at 9pm on ABC.

PUBLIC is proud to participate by offering our PUBLIC V1 and PUBLIC V7 bikes as special rewards for backers of the campaign. From now until April 22, you can order a PUBLIC bike (at a special Kickstarter price) with the Revolights Arc integrated into the bike’s fenders. And if you already ride a PUBLIC bike (thank you!), you can get the Revolights Arc as an easy addition to your current bike.

Watch their video below and support to their campaign to help make this smart new concept a reality. Leading the revolution to make bicycling safer and more fun is what both Revolights and PUBLIC are all about.


Rolling out the Green Carpet in San Francisco

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

What Color is Your Street?

We’re big fans of color at PUBLIC, and we love to see it used intelligently in our public spaces to offset the grey asphalt that dominates our urban landscapes. We’ve add a fantastic infusion of green all throughout San Francisco this past month, making our bike lanes vivid, visible, safer, and cool, and giving our lanes newfound respect and esteem. Green won’t get as much acclaim as the International Orange of our Golden Gate Bridge, but it has made a huge improvement to our riding, and it prompted us to think more about the use of color in public.

Color can inspire, detract, and many times communicate messages about the use and behavior expected of people using public spaces. For example, in the United States, we generally recognize Blue as a signal for disabled accommodation or parking. Yellow means caution or slow down, while Red signifies stop. White might communicate a temporary or restricted loading zone. You won’t find Pink or Purple anywhere. As we see more cities implement separated bikeways to make bicycling safer and more accessible, the color Green has become the de facto standard color for many bike lanes.

Why Green bike lanes? There’s actually been a lot of research on the best color treatment for bike lanes. What it boils down to is that the choice of Green for bike lanes is not just an aesthetic color choice, but a choice based on color as a “traffic control device.”

According to the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD):

San Francisco’s new green bike lanes on Market Street

Bike counter on San Francisco’s Market Street

New green bike lanes on Fell Street in San Francisco

“A number of experiments have been conducted in the United States and in other countries around the world to determine the value of designating a particular pavement color to communicate to road users that a portion of the roadway has been set aside for exclusive or preferential use by bicyclists and to enhance the conspicuity of a bicycle lane or a bicycle lane extension. Green, blue, and red are among the colors that have been tested for this purpose. Because these colored pavements are intended to regulate, warn, or guide traffic (motorists and bicyclists) and thus are serving as more than just an aesthetic treatment, they are considered to be traffic control devices. For the past ten years in the United States, green has been the only color that has received official FHWA approval for colored pavement experiments on bicycle facilities.”

While Green has become a more standard bike lane color, there isn’t a specific shade of green that’s been specified. While neon green might work on most streets, it might not be the best shade for a green bike lane inside a park, a debate that occurred when San Francisco implemented a green bike lane in Golden Gate Park.

Not surprisingly, the color Green for bike lanes is not universally loved. Certain members of the film industry in Los Angeles are upset over Green bike lanes because the color makes post-production work more tedious.

We’re excited when we see an increase in green bike lanes because it signifies a city’s priority to invest in bicycling improvements. There’s even a concerted effort called The Green Lane Project to push for improvements in six U.S. cities.

We can disagree over Green as the best color choice, but hopefully we can agree that more bike lanes are better for all of us.

An Urban Cupid?

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

“We can live without it, we may live longer without it, and the doggie bag will survive just fine.”
-Mayor Bloomberg comparing plastic foam containers to lead paint.

We show love in many ways. This Valentines week, it’s mostly personal, private, and driven by commercial interests (like PUBLIC putting polka dot bikes on SALE!).  When I read in the New York Times that NYC Mayor Bloomberg was taking on the plastic-foam container industry, it reminded me of the exceptional civic love he’s shown for his city, especially for the health and well being of its residents and culture. He does truly embody the “I heart NY“ spirit that Milton Glaser so elegantly gave form to in this iconic logo.

Bloomberg’s other crusades of love have been in the news this past week, and predictably where he has been opposed by strong forces in political battles, many of which he may not win or that may be overturned when he departs office. His bike lanes initiatives made the news this week along with his smart taxi programs. Some of his courageous positions often contrast what we see in Washington, where love seems to be more easily purchased by lobbyists and where acts of genuine civic leadership take a backseat to personal interests.

It might be a stretch to think of any billionaire as a Cupid, but we hope that he can be a realistic role model for other politicians. And some his programs such as stop and frisk are controversial. But we hope that his heartfelt and genuine commitment can be a realistic role model for other politicians.

To Go: Plastic-Foam Containers, if the Mayor Gets His Way
Published by New York Times 2.13.13

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, whose regulatory lance has slain fatty foods, supersize sodas, and smoking in parks, is now targeting plastic foam, the much-derided polymer that environmentalists have long tried to restrict.

On Thursday, Mr. Bloomberg, in his 12th and final State of the City address, will propose a citywide ban on plastic-foam food packaging, including takeout boxes, cups and trays. Public schools would be instructed to remove plastic-foam trays from their cafeterias. Many restaurants and bodegas would be forced to restock.

In excerpts from his speech released on Wednesday, Mr. Bloomberg rails against plastic foam, even comparing it to lead paint. “We can live without it, we may live longer without it, and the doggie bag will survive just fine,” the mayor plans to say. Read on.

Anxiety Over Future of Bike Lanes
Published by New York Times 2.12.13

During Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s tenure, New York City has become a cycling haven, with sprawling lanes across each borough and a bike-share program set to begin this spring.

But as Mr. Bloomberg is to leave office at year’s end, there is widespread concern among cyclists that a reckoning awaits, and that the city’s next mayor may end this period of bike-friendly programs and policies.

The concern is noted even in the Bloomberg administration, where some speak of invisible countdown clocks in every city office, reminding officials of the dwindling time to complete projects. “Three-hundred and twenty-nine days,” Janette Sadik-Khan, the city’s transportation commissioner, said in a recent interview. “There’s an app where you can have it on your phone.” In a poll by The New York Times in August, 66 percent of New Yorkers said the bike lanes were a good idea; 27 percent called them a bad idea. Read on.

Doubting if Tomorrow Will Ever Come for Taxi
Published by New York Times 2.10.13

New York City’s attempt to reimagine its taxicab experience, perhaps the least divisive of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s legacy-making transportation efforts, now appears to be the most at risk. One measure, creating a vibrant street hail network of livery cabs outside Manhattan, has been mired in court since last June, delaying its implementation indefinitely.

Another, allowing New Yorkers to hail yellow taxis using smartphone apps, was watered down amid heavy lobbying from the livery and black car industries — and will most likely face a legal challenge.Then there was the crown jewel, cast in yellow: the so-called Taxi of Tomorrow, a nearly complete redesign of the modern taxi, the first since the age of the Checker cab. Now, that, too, is imperiled. Read on.