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Archive for the ‘Everything Else’ Category

Bike The Vote: Tuesday, Nov 4

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

At PUBLIC we believe as strongly in civic responsibility as we do in bikes. On Tuesday November 4, the country takes to the polls. We encourage all to get out and bike the vote.

In our hometown of San Francisco there are three transportation measures in particular that need your vote. We encourage Yes on A, Yes on B, and No on L.
Our friends at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition explain why.

If you care about bicycling and need information about pro-bike positions and candidates, you might consider finding your local bicycle advocacy organization to learn about their positions and even get involved. You can find resources here.

For quick reference, here’s a list of several bicycle-advocacy groups around the country and their election guides:

PUBLIC Warehouse Sale on Sat, Nov 8

Friday, October 31st, 2014

PUBLIC Warehouse Sale

Winter is here and we’re holding our Winter PUBLIC Warehouse Sale at 205 Alice Street in Oakland on Saturday, November 8.

We’re selling our test ride bikes, sample bikes, and bikes with slight cosmetic blemishes. We’ll have over 80+ bikes to sell. A handful of them will be for sale as low as $199, but most of these bikes will be priced 30-50% below full retail price.

The warehouse sale features a variety of PUBLIC bikes in all sizes, colors, and models, including TWO Large PUBLIC D BionX Electric Bikes in Black and Green colors for only $999 (reg. $1,999).

Warehouse sale bikes go quickly, usually in the first few hours. Come early to get your first pick. It helps to do your research on which PUBLIC bikes you might be interested in so we can point you in the right direction when you arrive for the sale.

WHEN: Saturday, November 8 from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
WHERE: PUBLIC Warehouse, 205 Alice Street (@ 2nd), Jack London District, Oakland
WHAT: Bikes Up to 50% Off

Also let your friends know about the PUBLIC Warehouse Sale via our Facebook event page. RSVP to the Facebook event to receive a free copy of our PUBLIC Works book collecting the original artwork of our PUBLIC Works design project.

No early viewings on any bikes, nor inquiries ahead of the PUBLIC Warehouse Sale. Keep in mind our PUBLIC Warehouse Sales are quite popular so please be patient since we want to give customers, on a first come first serve basis, the attention they require to help select the right Warehouse Sale bike for them.

ALL SALES FINAL. NO RETURNS ON WAREHOUSE SALE BIKES


Our Picks: Best Bike Halloween Costumes

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

If you have a bike, you have the makings for a great costume. We found some hilarious and creative examples of people who incorporated their bikes into their Halloween costumes with total success.

1. Inspired by the 2014 Burning Man theme Caravansary, we had an artist friend of ours transform a PUBLIC bike into a desert-worthy camel.
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2. You’ve heard of the Headless Horseman, right? Change up the myth by transforming into the Headless Biker.

3. 3…2…1…blast off on your rocket-powered bike. Transportation to and from your Halloween destinations is a breeze.

4. All you need is a red hoodie, a front basket and a cardboard cut-out of your favorite alien.

5. If you loved the Neverending Story, then this is the bike costume for you.

6. Transform your bike into a four speed: Walk, trot, cantor or gallop.

7. A grey suit, bow tie and red bike are all that’s required for this classic Pee Wee Herman costume.

8. Make a political statement like these Latvian cyclists. Erect a bamboo structure in the shape of a car and wear it while you ride to demonstrate how much more space cars take up versus bikes.

9. Eschew candy in favor of pac-bites and make sure you go everywhere in a maze-like fashion on your Pac Bike.

WeiWei Good

Monday, October 27th, 2014

Every now and then a person or an event comes along that makes us appreciate just how profound and provocative the combination of art and public space can be. Usually it’s an artist that shapes that vision. I have had a few peak experiences in my life to support this, like when I saw Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington DC and Donald Judd’s works in Marfa for the first time. Both of these installations have made permanent impressions on me.

Just a few weeks ago I had a similarly profound experience on Alcatraz. Artist Ai Weiwei was recruited by Cheryl Haines (SF Art Gallery owner and FOR-SITE founder) to use Alcatraz as a location for his artistic and political expression.

Ai Weiwei is well known internationally for his art installations. He has used the bicycle as a metaphor in these installations in Tokyo, Taiwan and Italy. This amazing exhibit, currently on display at the Palazzo Franchetti in Venice is a great example.

The installations on Alcatraz do not incorporate bikes, but they contain many of the fundamental themes relevant to bikes, freedom being at the core of this.

Much has been written about this phenomenal show in the media, including the thorough article from The New York Times “Art Man of Alcatraz: Ai Weiwei Takes His Work to a Prison” that includes a terrific slide show as well.

There are seven installations total on Alcatraz. They range in scope and depth from porcelain flowers in toilets (shown left) to sound systems in jail cells. All must be experienced first-hand to be appreciated. They are not easily summarized.

The Lego installation has received a lot of media attention. It features over 176 Lego portraits of many “prisoners of conscience” that have been jailed, tortured or like Ai Weiwei, prevented from escape (like the inmates of Alcatraz). It includes people like Edward Snowden and many other less well know “dissidents.”

I found this installation particularly powerful upon learning that Ai Weiwei intended this to not only be impactful to adults, but children as well. Many children visit as tourists with their parents. Ai Weiwei hopes to get inside their little minds. How many artists take on the challenge of provoking thought in adults and kids alike?

Alcatraz is a legendary prison with an inherent comment on public space that’s compelling to visit on its own. But these installations take the experience of being there up to another level. It’s worth coming to SF just to see this show. Kudos to Ai Weiwei and Ms. Haines for pulling off the San Francisco event of the year, in my humble opinion, that rivals the Golden Gate Bridge in drama.

Ai Weiwei’s installations are currently on display on Alcatraz through April 26. Tickets aren’t easy to come by, but you can book yours here.

Vote NO TODAY: Walk/Bike Toll on Golden Gate Bridge

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Today at 10AM PST, the Golden Gate Bridge District is voting on a proposal to collect a toll on anyone who walks or bikes over the Golden Gate Bridge. Please join us in opposing this short-sighted scheme by signing a petition here (it’s a simple, under a minute process) and tweeting @ggbridge with your opposition.

The Golden Gate Bridge is a beloved international landmark that is a tourist attraction for locals and visitors alike, with an estimated of 10,000 people walking the bridge daily. It’s also the only bikeable bridge into San Francisco and as such it’s a thoroughfare for an estimated 6,000 daily bikers who reduce car traffic and pollution by riding their bike to work instead of driving.

We urge transportation officials to take a page from the city of Lillestrom Norway, where the government recently handed out a “reverse toll,” giving each bike and pedestrian commuter up to €12 for choosing not to drive a car that day. After studying the fiscal impact of biking and walking on the national health care and transportation systems, they found that the average 4km bike trip saved the government €12 ($15) and the average 1.7km walking trip reduced government spending by €11.

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most cherished public spaces in our country, and it should remain free for all people to walk and enjoy. And as a critical bike route into the city, planners should be finding ways to increase bike traffic on the bridge to maximize the social benefits of biking over driving, rather than deterring bike ridership with unnecessary fees. For more information you can visit the SF Bike Coalition, listen to a discussion on KQED’s Forum program, and join us this morning in opposing this backwards idea.

The Cities That Play Together Stay Together

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

By riding a bike, you instantly become a more connected part of your community and a little happier. It’s the reason why one of our taglines is “Ride a Bike. Smile More.” Since the concepts of fun and urban engagement are important to us, we took notice when a recent article on the importance of “play” in cities passed by our monitors.

The article from The Guardian entitled “Playable Cities: the city that plays together, stays together” makes the case that our culture is becoming increasingly more isolated by technology. So by cultivating activities in your city that bring joy – like “Zoobombing” every Sunday on a zany bike in Portland – you create an environment that’s active, happier and paves the way for a more cohesive city. This article specifically highlights quirky, city-wide events like those illustrated above and below.

Play in cities takes many forms. Here are a few we found and a few we snapped with our own cameras.

Open Streets: NationwideAn increasing number of cities around the world organize Open Streets, which opens public streets for people to walk, bicycle, play, and connect with each other. They’re called Sunday Streets in San Francisco and Berkeley, CicLAvia in Los Angeles, and Sunday Parkways in Portland, Oregon.

Bring Your Own Big Wheels: San Francisco, CA – Adults don costumes and zoom down one of the curviest and steepest streets in San Francisco on big wheel bikes every Easter.

ZooBombing: Portland, OREvery Sunday night adults on kid’s bikes and art bikes careen down a hill near the Oregon Zoo.

Art Installation: Chicago, ILA water art installation geared towards children (but clearly adults were having fun too).

Break Dancing on the Streets in BarcelonaThe simple act of dancing in the streets is a sign of play in the city of Barcelona.

 

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.

 

Citymapper
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.

 

Robin Williams: A Reflection

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

 

With Robin Williams’ passing this past month, the San Francisco Bay Area lost one of its best ambassadors to the world at large and also to the world of biking. I had the privilege of meeting him a few times and knowing him a little.  I am not unusual in this regard.

Robin was a very accessible person, especially to those with a love for bikes.  Many local bike shop owners and bike related charities were also acquaintances of his. He rode the same Marin County routes like Paradise Loop that Bay Area riders frequent. He loved bikes on a number of levels and his obsession was as legendary as his humor.

Robin gave me a tour of his 50+ bike collection at his 60th birthday party. He housed his bike collection in a big garage in Napa and it was filled with amazing road bikes dating back several decades.  In this garage he was “a kid in a candy store.”

Robin had a few bikes by the celebrated Italian bike builder Dario Pegoretti, a bike builder we both respected and admired.  I saw the two of them at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in 2008. The header image and the shot below are ones I took of Robin with Dario at the Portland show.

Read this excellent The Wall Street Journal article about Robin and Dario and you’ll learn about yet another legendary side of Robin Williams – his generosity and heart.

He even once gave a bike to Conan O’Brien to cheer him up. He was like that. Watch Conan tell his funny story.

Robin Williams was well known at Bay Area bikes shops for his patronage. He spread his good will around, exemplified by his generous contributions to non-profits and support for the arts in general. Trip for Kids, a San Rafael based charity that takes bike donations and gives the bikes to needy kids who cannot afford new bikes, was an organization that Robin continually supported.

We all know Robin Williams’ unique talents as an actor and comedian.  At heart he was an enthusiastic boy who loved bikes for the same reasons that we do – the freedom they bring, the jolt of a little friendly competition and rebellion, and a lot of smiling. As Jason Gay from The Wall Street Journal recounted, when asked “why he loved riding a bicycle so much. I’ll always remember his answer, because it was wonderful and true. He said it was the closest you can get to flying.”

I wouldn’t use the phrase Rest In Peace for Robin Williams.  He was too high energy for resting in peace. His spirit is perhaps on a bike somewhere, making those fortunate enough to be biking along side him buckle over in laughter.

Best,

Rob Forbes

Please send any personal comments to me here.

Riding The Roads Less Ridden

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Images from top to bottom: A tiny, hidden alley in North Beach; Pops of color in the Bayview; A golden sunset in Sutro Heights; and fly fishing in Golden Gate Park.

You know him through the bikes he develops at PUBLIC, but in his spare time our bike designer, Aaron Glick has been working on a very public side project, biking every single street in San Francisco and tracking it on his GPS. He completed his project just last month and we checked in with him about why in the heck he did it and what he learned.

Aaron has a self-proclaimed fear of getting lost when biking. And part of his motivation for riding every SF road was to overcome this fear, “I thought if I rode every street I would never be lost again, right?” A daily commuter and trail biker, he also thought that because he rode regularly, he had been all over the city. His GPS route data proved otherwise, “I was in a cycling rut. I thought that if I attempted to ride every street I would surely shake things up and discover new routes and interesting places I’d never heard of.” He was also inspired by Brett Lobre, a San Franciscan who had previously tackled riding every road in San Francisco in his Ride Every Road project.

More than just adding a blue line to his GPS tracking, Aaron’s ride connected him to the community around him in a way he wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. “The public housing/projects were some of the most interesting parts of the city to me. Some of them were in awful condition and their confusing street layout and made them feel separated from the more affluent buildings and homes around them.” Others, he found were in prime SF locations atop hills with great views and were exceptionally well-maintained.

His ride also took him through a variety of unusual spots, like hidden gardens in the Bernal Heights neighborhood, congested alleyways in China Town, a recycled art garden in the Bayview and a huge sundial in Ingleside.

Have a question for Aaron about biking? Leave your comment on our blog and Aaron will respond!

 

World Cup. Bikes and Brazil.

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

The World Cup is upon us. Futbol is on the minds of millions around the world. I’m lucky enough to be in Salvador, Brazil right now, taking in the World Cup games as well as the biking culture here.

Like many places around the world, the car dominates and congests the streets in Salvador while bicycling is viewed more as recreation than a means of everyday transportation.

Some World Cup host cities, like Salvador, are encouraging people to bicycle to the games by providing arena bike parking and information on where to locate Bike Salvador bike share stations nearby.

The brightly colored orange Bike Salvador bikes and stations are prominent near central public plazas and greenways. Both men and women use these shared bikes. Even a few streets in Salvador feature separated bikeways with clear signage for bicyclists. These efforts show some level of attention to city bicycling by local officials.

Despite these efforts to encourage bicycling, it’s clear urban bicycling has a ways to go in Brazil. – a similar challenging situation to many other countries around the world including the United States. Yet progress is happening in various smaller and larger Brazilian cities, as our friends from Momentum Magazine published in the article “The Bikes in Brazil: With a booming economy, is Brazil thinking bike?

Salvador is in full World Cup celebration mode right now, emphasized by the heavily decorated plazas and flags strung about everywhere. So while the World Cup is on the minds of Brazil for the next few weeks, I sincerely hope city planners and government officials continue to keep the bicycle in mind when redesigning public streets and spaces. And why not since the bicycle is almost as universal as the world’s love of futbol?

PUBLIC World Cup Correspondent,
Dan