ABOUT | BLOG | PRESS | CONTACT888-450-0123Items: 0

Archive for the ‘Everything Else’ Category

Bikes are Up, Traffic is Down in San Francisco

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

City Leaders and Bike Advocates on Bike to Work Day. Traffic on Bay Bridge.

Many of us accept punishing traffic situations on a daily basis. Traffic can seem as inevitable as having to file your taxes every April. But while we haven’t figured out a better solution for the 1040 form, traffic is a problem that can be solved. Cities all over the world are being reconfigured to be more pedestrian friendly, limiting car traffic by a number of means, with amazing results. The latest news from the SF Chronicle is that commuter traffic has improved all over San Francisco in the past couple years, with fewer cars on the streets and shorter waits at lights. How did San Francisco manage to reduce automobile congestion? We made our streets better for bikes.

According to the Chronicle, car traffic is improving because more residents and commuters are choosing bicycles and public transit, and leaving their cars at home. The number of people biking in San Francisco has doubled since 2006, thanks to the advocacy of the SF Bike Coalition; the city’s improvements in bike infrastructure like green bike lanes, signals, and parking; and bikes like ours that are designed to be easy for all kinds of people to ride.

The new Bay Area Bike Share is a good “last mile” solution for transit riders to get to their final destination, and regional commuter train BART now allows people to bring their own bikes on board during peak commuting hours (finally!). There are many other forces at work to help solve the traffic problems, such as charging more for parking, creating pedestrian zones and congestion pricing, but bikes are proving to provide the most simple and affordable solution.

These bike-positive changes are happening all over the country, from big cities like ChicagoDC and New York to small towns like Edinburg, Texas. And no matter where you live, it’s a movement you can be part of. Joining a state or local bike advocacy group like the California Bike Coalition is a great way to start. And of course, choosing to ride a bike or take transit instead of driving a car is the easiest way you can curb traffic in your city.

 

Our Medalists in Bike Style at Sochi

Friday, February 21st, 2014

While you won’t see bicycles on the official program at the Winter Olympics, all over Sochi this year there are bikes of every color proudly representing their home countries. Our unofficial judges at PUBLIC scored every country’s contenders, and we congratulate our 2014 medalists in Bicycle Style.


Gold Medal: Netherlands
Not only did the Dutch roll out a fleet of orange step-through bikes for their all of their athletes to get around the games, but the King and Queen themselves have been riding everywhere in Sochi with coordinated orange outfits. While some of our US presidents have been known for their bicycle enthusiasm, clearly we still have plenty to learn from the Dutch.


Silver Medal: Finland
The Finnish men’s hockey team is a strong runner-up this year, sporting blue step-through bikes and bright blue team hoodies. While scoring a little lower in elegance, they earn strong marks for generosity by autographing and auctioning each of their bikes for charity. With two weeks of bidding left, national hockey star’s Teemu Selänne’s bike has already raised over 5,000 euro.


Bronze Medal: Sweden
Sweden’s men’s hockey team earns an honorable mention this year, with high scores from our judges in both the formalwear and fun categories. How could you help but smile when you’re riding your bike in a sharp suit and shades?

Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil Rights, and Public Space

Monday, January 20th, 2014

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we wish to acknowledge the achievements of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement in a genuine, non-commercial manner. We believe that the spirit behind our mission – to increase awareness of the value of public spaces, and reclaiming our streets for people – is at the very foundation of democracy and social equality. Public space is where our society’s diversity should be welcomed, encouraged and made visible. Many of the enduring images of the Civil Rights Movement are of people claiming their right to use public streets, plazas, and public transportation systems without fear. Dr. King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech is so powerful because of his eloquent message, but also because of the significance of the public space where it was delivered. The Lincoin Memorial, honoring a president whose legacy of emancipation remains unfinished, looks out onto one of the most noble and generous public spaces our country had designed. We are all greatly indebted to Dr. King, legions of civil rights activists and supporters, and his enduring inspiration in the continuing effort for greater equality and democracy in civic life.

Partner with PUBLIC

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Since the outset of PUBLIC four years ago we’ve enjoyed partnerships with individuals and companies ranging from boutique coffee roasters to enormous retailers like Gap. This eclectic list includes Tretorn, Kimpton Hotels, Clif Bar, Rickshaw Bagworks, Flos Lighting, and institutions like the California College of Art.

We have hosted numerous events at our South Park headquarters, including product launches for companies such as Parker Dusseau, bicycle-related movie nights and book readings, camping trips, and dozens of local fundraisers to support worthy charitable causes. We have worked with numerous arts organizations like Creative Growth and Southern Exposure, creating some unique one of a kind art bikes, and we’ve also partnered with 26 world-renowned designers and artists with our PUBLIC WORKS poster art project. And many of our signature products, such as our PUBLIC Stripe Helmet and Federico Red Bell, were done in collaboration with manufacturers.

Our second retail store on Valencia Street is a partnership with Harrington Galleries where we share space inside a furniture store. And we have partnered with many bike stores across the US and Canada.

Partnerships are simply the way we roll, and we may be as well known for these partnerships as for our bikes. At PUBLIC, we’re not just about bikes, but also about building more livable communities with great partners.

Looking Forward

New Retail Locations
We are looking for specific new partners this year, and at the top of our list are new retail spaces in San Francisco, but we are also exploring options elsewhere around the country. These might be locations where we might have a temporary pop up store. Ideally, we’d locate a ~1,500 square feet PUBLIC retail store in a bicycle-friendly corridor.

Food & Drink Vendors in South Park
We loved having Saint Frank Coffee set up a pop-up at our South Park store and we’d love to explore other opportunities.

Product Development
We do a lot of our own in-house product development, of our bikes of course (including some big new announcements coming in 2014), but also gear like our PUBLIC Basket and PUBLIC Farmers Market Twin Pannier. But we’re always looking for interesting product designers to work with us on new products.

Apparel Designers & Manufacturers
If you design and manufacture apparel that we can sell, we’ve got a potential platform for reaching new customers.

How to Partner With PUBLIC
Got an idea for a partnership? Have access to a potential retail storefront in San Francisco or pop-up outside of the Bay Area? Just send a short email to partner@publicbikes.com with your proposal or concept.

2014 Wish: More Public Space for People

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Public Space in Rome

I had the good fortune to spend time in Rome this year. Rome is a remarkable city for a number of reasons.  One reason is the extraordinary public spaces that are peppered throughout the city, and filled with locals and tourists alike. It is almost as if the city is an amalgamation of public spaces that are held together by walkways and roads.  And even along many streets the space is shared quite elegantly between cars and pedestrians.  This overall design creates a friendly, democratic and inspirational atmosphere, and is such a contrast to many modern cities where streets and parking areas often take up most of the public space.
 
What does this have to do with bikes and PUBLIC and a year-end message? Everything. The mission of PUBLIC is to encourage us to think more carefully about our urban environments and spaces, and to help people connect with them more personally. Bikes are a good way to do this. It’s all about making our cities more livable and more loveable.
 
Santa Cruz Parking Lot / Millennium Park, ChicagoI took this shot of a parking lot in Santa Cruz, California, just after returning from Rome. The parking lot is adjacent to the main beach in Santa Cruz and next to a beautiful stretch of coastline. It is one of the most desirable pieces of community space in the city. But like so many parking lots across America, (and we have many in San Francisco) it sits vacant, lonely and depressed for most of its life. It was a mistake to put it there.  
 
Here is to a new year of undoing mistakes and getting more people, smiles and spirit in our public spaces and in our private lives. There truly is so much good news about this occurring in the US and around the world. We often cite the Highline in New York, Millennium Park in Chicago, and Ferry Plaza in San Francisco, but there are many lower profile developments all across the US that undo suburban sprawl and revitalize our cities.
 
My favorite recent development in this regard came the other day from the NY Times. Ex-Mayor Bloomberg is taking his smarter city show on the road:
 
“Michael R. Bloomberg, determined to parlay his government experience and vast fortune into a kind of global mayoralty, is creating a high-powered consulting group to help him reshape cities around the world long after he leaves office.” Read the full article here.
 
Like any big city Mayor, you can find policies enacted by former Mayor Bloomberg to critique, but there is no denying that he left an indelible stamp on New York City’s urban landscape, including rolling out bike share and increasing bike lanes. Like the Medici’s Popes and political power brokers of ancient Rome, this guy is really committed to making better cities the focus of his life’s work.  Lucky for us, he just won’t go away.
 
Here at PUBLIC we don’t plan on going away either. Thanks to all of you we’ll be rolling ahead in 2014.
 

Better Late Than Never: Woman Named CEO of GM

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Mary BarraWe don’t usually write in praise of the US auto industry, but we’re making an exception this week. The recent appointment of Mary Barra to the CEO position at General Motors is a sign of welcome change. We might go so far as to reassert that oft-quoted quip from 50’s Secretary of Defense and ex-CEO of GM Charles Wilson: “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.” *

We have often felt that the US car industry would adapt for the better if more women assumed leadership roles. Even in our own bicycle industry, we recognize many women who are leading the way.

And there is another aspect of this appointment that seems especially noteworthy: Ms. Barra is an engineer and a product person, before being a finance person, and this bodes well.

“After a long run of CEOs with financial backgrounds and orientations, the company is once again choosing an engineer for its top role,” Bill Visnic, an analyst at Edmunds.com, said in an e-mail. “It could be interpreted as a signal that GM believes it’s as much a car-making company as a money-making company.”

Read this Bloomberg summary and muse over the implications of this appointment and the history of GM. If you want to entertain yourself, read this article about the ten cars that helped ruin GM, and recall names like Corvair, Hummer, Vega, and the unfortunate EV1 electric car fiasco.

We don’t know Ms. Barra well enough to comment on her personal values and vision, and we cannot expect any one person to turn GM into a company that produces cars that will regain the respect of us designers and be more sensitive to our environment and culture. But her appointment is a bold step in the right direction and makes us believe that change is possible.

For myself, and given that Ms. Barra is an alumni of my alma mater, my pipe dream for 2014 is that I find a way to have a conversation with her about using the extra factory space and resources in Detroit to collaborate on a line of US-made bicycles. Why not?

Bikes: Trees, a Cookbook, and The Devil

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Two videos caught our eye recently, both dealing with new ideas spawned by bikes.

If you feel like ascending to new heights on a bike and need a smile, check out this ingenious climbing system we saw on Atlantic Cites.

If you would rather fantasize about an epic bike ride and meals designed for the journey, check out this new Bicycle Touring Cookbook that came out on Kickstarter.

First bike design?Ingenuity and innovation go hand in hand with bicycles, and this has been the case since their outset. The true origins of the bicycle are debatable, but like so many mechanical machines, Leonardo Da Vinci’s gang seems to have had some vision about what the future bike become. Here is a shot of one of the earliest (1493) studies attributed to his pupil Gian Giacomo Caprotti.

(Caprotti was better known as Salaì, which means “The Devil”, and worked with Da Vinci from the time he was 10 years old. He was the presumed model for several Da Vinci’s paintings, and even painted a nude version of the Mona Lisa!)

Later in the 19th century when the “modern” bike became common, bikes and related products were responsible for the greatest number of US patents every years. This changed when cars and technology rolled out of course, but the ingenuity surrounding bike products continues to grow and can probably be viewed in almost any modern culture.

New PUBLIC C1At PUBLIC we like to think that we play a part in the illustrious tradition of invention and ingenuity. Our new electric bikes fit nicely into this tradition. Our new single-speed bikes pay homage to the basic, simple nature of the bicycle, a design that has not really been improved upon since its origin – whenever that might have been.

$500 Reasons to Get the Thief

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

We had an incident last week at our Valencia Street store that was unprecedented and not funny. A guy came in to participate in our Take One Home Tonight E-Bike program and never returned the E-bike. He went AWOL. He claims to have studied pre-law at UCLA. What chutzpah!

Help us Get this Guy. $500 reward.

We are reaching out to all of you through our online networks, to try to track this guy down. Can you help? He went off with a black Stromer ST1 Platinum. Here is a photo and the information he left with us (which may or may not be true).

Jesse Hanlin, e-bike thiefThe suspect went by the name JESSE EDWARD HANLIN who previously lived in San Jose & attended UCLA. (Go Bruins!) If anyone can help us locate him (and our bike too), we will offer you $500 credit to get your own e-bike. He’s either missing (which would concern us) or is a bike thief.

Please SHARE WIDELY with this Facebook link and help us locate him and/or the Stromer e-bike. Email customerservice@publicbikes.com with any tips.

Sadly, a lot of the problem with bike theft is that the police or prosecutors just don’t have the resources or incentives to go after bike thieves, so we’re using our own means. Many of our customers are tech and media savvy, so we’re hoping that one of you might have the skills to help us find him. Thanks for your help.

Bike theft is a truly sad fact of life, and it is as common in “civilized” biking communities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen as it is in the US. Almost all of us have had to cope with theft at some time in our lives. I personally believe that bike thieves are reason enough to reinstitute those stocks that Puritans used in colonial times to expose thieves to public shame. We have written about theft from various points of view in earlier blog posts:

Dear Bike Thief
Outwitting Thieves at PUBLIC
Bondage in Amsterdam

The subject has not been lost in broader modern circles. Vittoria de Sica’s 1948 The Bicycle Thief is rated as one of the greatest movies of all time, and happens to be Woody Allen’s favorite film. See it if you have not done so already.

A Taste of Guatemala

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Coffee-Grid-v4_blog

We’ve been serving coffee in our South Park neighborhood since July, and customers have been lining up for the special Saint Frank coffee drinks. Saint Frank offers a special roast from very special Guatemalan beans and this creates a taste experience that is as unique as it is rich, aromatic, and flavorful. I’ve been grinding my own beans and making my own espresso drinks for over thirty years, and I can attest to the fact that the Saint Frank coffee is exceptional. The youth driven coffee culture is taking coffee to entirely new level in sophistication.

We’re now making Saint Frank’s freshly roasted beans available to all of our customers by shipping directly to your door.

St Frank Coffee
“Frankly” speaking, we should not sell this special product at a discount. But we think that once you’ve brewed this in your own kitchen you’ll be back for more. The single origin coffee is that special. The farm where it is raised is called Retiro (which means “retreat”). The coffee is comprised of the traditional heirloom varieties of Bourbon and Typica and grows under the shade of tall Grevillea trees. The result is a great representation of a classic Antigua coffee from Guatemala: elegant, well balanced with a rich aroma and a very sweet taste.*

Juan Luis Barrios Ortega produces these unique coffee beans. The Ortega Family has been growing coffee for 100 years near Chimaltenango in Guatemala, and the farm has been in Juan’s family since 1832. They are one of the most environmentally progressive estates in Guatemala and use innovative sustainable practices for coffee production, forest preservation and management.

Here’s how our program works:

Your Beans Roasted Tuesday and Shipped Thursday Every Week

Get your order to us by Monday, 12:00pm PST for a Tuesday roast and we will ship to you on Thursday. You will receive freshly roasted coffee beans. You’ll need to grind them yourself, and if you do not have a coffee grinder – it’s about time you did! The aromatics and flavor imparted by freshly roasted ground coffee makes for coffee drinks that are astoundingly sumptuous.

*The package that the coffee arrives in is equally as elegant as the coffee itself. The graphic design is the work of Paula Scher of Pentagram. Scher was awarded the 2013 Communication Design award from the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, and has been distinguishing herself for decades as an artist and designer. The PUBLIC logo evolved from her poster for PUBLIC Works.