Going Mutts! Biking With Your Dog

July 19th, 2016

Bike lovers are often dog lovers. And why not? Both are a human’s best friend, lovers of the outdoors and game for adventuring. And when you pair bikes and dogs, well, magic happens. Magic in the form of extreme adorableness (see above for proof), but also in the form of the supremely enjoyable experience that… Read more »

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biking with your dog

Photos by Akshay Sawhney.

Bike lovers are often dog lovers. And why not? Both are a human’s best friend, lovers of the outdoors and game for adventuring. And when you pair bikes and dogs, well, magic happens. Magic in the form of extreme adorableness (see above for proof), but also in the form of the supremely enjoyable experience that can be had biking with your dog, exploring the world and exercising together. Added bonus? No more whimpering beside the doggie door at home while you go on solo rides.

We explore three different ways of biking with your dog: toting them in a bike basket, pulling them along in a dog trailer and having them jog alongside you. We encourage you to consider your canine’s personality, size and fitness level when picking one of the many ride-along or jogging options to find the one that suits your needs and your pet’s best. And please let us know in the comments your personal tips and tricks for riding with your pet.

biking with your dog basket

Photos by Akshay Sawhney.

BASKET PUP

For smaller dogs, front or rear baskets are a smart choice. Their tiny legs are no match for the big strides of your bicycle. But with a basket, they can enjoy the breeze and the sights alongside you.

Attach the basket to your rear rack, front rack or your handlebars. The smaller the dog, the better off you’ll be with a front basket, where you can keep an eye on your friend. Whatever you do, make sure that your dog’s leash hooks to your handlebars or bike. Many baskets are made with clip-on leashes, which is the best option. That way, your dog will be less likely to try to jump out and chase a cat.

Your options include:

  • Wicker (like this or this): An environmentally friendly and classic look, the wicker basket will give your dog ample breeze on toasty days.
  • Wire (like this or this): These workhorse baskets will hold a heavier dog, and they’re easier to clean if your dog brings a mess on the ride.
  • Fabric: Comfortable and often handy with extra pouches and pockets, the fabric basket is commonly waterproof. But they might sway more on the ride or buckle underneath a dog’s weight, making this a better option for tiny pets.
biking with your dog trailer

TRAILER BUDDY

For big dogs who want to sit back and enjoy the ride, trailers are a simple solution. They’re generally built for dogs that weigh more than 20-25 lbs. A few pointers:

  • Be careful to choose a trailer that will actually fit your dog’s shape: The weight ratings of dog trailers don’t always take into account all the shapes and sizes of a dog that weighs that amount. So, try it on for size first. Your dog should have enough room to move around and sit down.
  • Check that you can easily hitch and unhitch your trailer. Make sure the connection is secure so that your trailer doesn’t fly off mid-ride.
  • Practice biking around with your trailer while it’s empty, so you get accustomed to the longer load. On your first ride, you’ll want to reassure your dog by looking like you know what you’re doing.
  • Acclimate your dog to the trailer by having him sit in it at home well before you actually ride. Make sure your dog enjoys sitting in a trailer before you commit to biking with a scared pup.
600-lauren-rico

JOGGING DOG

  • This option can spell the most fun and exercise for your companion. If your dog is physically fit and big enough for his legs to keep up with your wheels, consider working your way up to this mutually beneficial hobby.
  • It might seem liberating to simply use a normal leash and hook it to a handlebar, but this could spell disaster. If your dog sees a squirrel, it might dart in an unpredictable direction, pulling you and your bike down with it.
  • Instead, shop for the proper supplies before you head out. Buy a non-tangling lead—there are even leashes made for this specific purpose, like WalkyDog and Springer, that keep your dog at a safe distance from your wheels. Also pick up a body harness and an extra leash for when you park your bike and explore by foot. For nighttime rides, invest in a reflective vest and blinking lights. Nice-to-haves include a backpack for your dog to carry its own water supply and treats, rain gear, and booties for rides on hot days.
  • Practice commands such as “slow,” “left,” “right” and “stop” before you even hop on your bike. Then, start out with short rides, making sure to keep your pet on the non-traffic side of your bike. Soon, you’ll be biking around town with your dog like a pro. For those dogs that are especially well trained, you could choose to bike alongside them without a leash at all.

If you love bikes and dogs, there’s no reason to separate the two. Experiment until you find the solution that’s right for your pet. Then, you’ll have a shared hobby that wears you both out for a good night’s rest.

When In Chrome: A Brief History Of Chrome Bikes

April 5th, 2016

Chrome tipped front forks and rear triangles were long popular with competitive cyclists as a way to protect their expensive racing frames from getting scratched during quick wheel changes in a race. We tip our hats to the legacy of chrome bicycles by offering this heritage finish across our D model line of premium diamond-frame… Read more »

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Limited Edition Chrome Bikes

Chrome tipped front forks and rear triangles were long popular with competitive cyclists as a way to protect their expensive racing frames from getting scratched during quick wheel changes in a race. We tip our hats to the legacy of chrome bicycles by offering this heritage finish across our D model line of premium diamond-frame city bikes, including our single-speed PUBLIC D1, 7-speed PUBLIC D7, and 8-speed internally geared PUBLIC D8i.

Limited Edition Chome bikes

1945 Rene Herse Racer, via reneherse.com.

Legendary European artisan bike builders like René Herse and Alex Singer would often fully chrome their handmade custom bicycles to lend them both an elevated aesthetic and a durable finish, reflecting the bicycle’s owner investment in quality in commissioning a custom built model.

Limited Edition Chrome Bikes

Special Edition PUBLIC D8i Champs Elysees

Although chrome was used less often in the later 20th century, some of the most desirable bicycles in the world continued to incorporate signature chrome elements, from the American classic Schwinn Paramount to Italian dream machines from makers like Colgnago and Pinarello.

Today, true chrome is rarely found on production bicycles, and only a handful respected names like Bianchi and Soma are keeping this artisan tradition alive.

Limited Edition Chrome Bikes

Our Limited Edition, Chrome D1 Bike

Rarely do the ideals of form and function meet so perfectly in a single design solution. We are proud to celebrate this beautiful, durable, heritage finish, available for a limited time only across our D model line of premium city bikes, starting at just $399. Check out our PUBLIC Chrome bicycles here.

Introducing The PUBLIC U1 Unicycle

April 1st, 2016

Ever since we launched PUBLIC over five years ago, customers have asked us: When are you going to design and produce a PUBLIC unicycle? At PUBLIC, we think bicycles are the most efficient form of transportation. And the unicycle, in our humble opinion, is truly Mass Transit For One. No longer simply the transportation mode… Read more »

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PUBLIC U1 Unicycle

Ever since we launched PUBLIC over five years ago, customers have asked us: When are you going to design and produce a PUBLIC unicycle?

At PUBLIC, we think bicycles are the most efficient form of transportation. And the unicycle, in our humble opinion, is truly Mass Transit For One.

No longer simply the transportation mode of choice for street performers and circus acts, the unicycle is becoming more commonplace in cities around the world. While hoverboards are gaining all the latest headlines, the unicycle is quietly re-emerging as a retro-alternative.

PUBLIC U1 Unicycle

Our PUBLIC U1 Unicycle features a steel fork-style frame, matching painted rims, leather Brooks saddle, alloy seatpost, integrated kickstand, and high-performance cranks. We’re offering our unicycle in our signature Red, Orange, and British Racing Green colors.

And each unicycle comes with our PUBLIC Trieste Coffee Cup Holder so you can ride highly caffeinated while showing off your awe-inspiring balancing skills.

Since we only plan to produce a few hundred PUBLIC U1 Unicycles, we encourage you to pre-order now for only $99. They will be available to ship one year from now on April Fools’ Day 2017.

If you’re one of the first 25 customers pre-ordering our PUBLIC U1 Unicycle, we’ll also throw in special limited edition PUBLIC colored juggling balls and a multi-purpose clown suit for your daily commute or street performance.

Click here to pre-order your PUBLIC U1 Unicycle now. And if our unicycle doesn’t fit your riding needs, make sure to check out all our other PUBLIC bikes.

As we like to say about the PUBLIC U1 Unicycle, “It’s half the wheels and twice the fun!”

Vertical Parking Through The Years

February 3rd, 2016

With the advent of cars decades ago as the dominant means of transportation, city planners and developers reshaped our public and private spaces to accommodate the storage of these personal vehicles. By making it easy to find free or subsidized low cost parking, many cities simply encouraged more people to own and drive cars which… Read more »

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With the advent of cars decades ago as the dominant means of transportation, city planners and developers reshaped our public and private spaces to accommodate the storage of these personal vehicles.

By making it easy to find free or subsidized low cost parking, many cities simply encouraged more people to own and drive cars which simply resulted in more congestion and environmental problems.

Since cars take up so much space, people have always tried to find ways to store them vertically to reduce their ground-level footprint. This series of photos, “Vertical Parking“, shows how cities have attempted to accommodate the car through the decades.

The photo below is in New York City in ~1920.

An elevator parking lot, where the cars are hoisted up on individual platforms to save space, early 1920s. (Photo by FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)


This one below is in Chicago in ~1941.

A vertical parking lot structure in Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, c. 1941. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)


If we spent as much effort and resources trying to house people, instead of cars, think about how different cities would be?

In contrast, a few cities like Amsterdam face an entirely different dilemma – how to accommodate the shortage of bike parking spots?

BikeParking-CentraalStation_0Photo credit: Poom!/flickr

In the article, “Amsterdam mulls underwater bike garage as available parking for cyclists dwindles,” Amsterdam is even exploring ways to go vertical but in a different direction than up.

Most cities have more available parking than people think. For example, it’s estimated in San Francisco alone, where people complain about lack of car parking all the time, that San Francisco has enough street parking space to fill the entire California coastline.

The problem is multi-faceted, but there many steps cities can do to improve parking and create better spaces for people. However, we think the biggest bang for taxpayer buck is for cities to be less obsessed about accommodating the car, but more focused on making other transportation options more accessible and safer to a wider number of people.

Not everyone is going to bike, walk, or take transit. But by making those transportation choices safer and easier for more people, it means less people driving and looking for parking. And hopefully, as more cities are successful in shifting people’s choices on how they get around, it will create a new set of good problems – like how to accommodate more bikes, more pedestrians, and more public transit riders.

The urbanist writer Lewis Mumford once wrote, “The right to have access to every building in the city by private motorcar in an age when everyone possesses such a vehicle is the right to destroy the city.” Instead of focusing on creating more space for cars, which has destroyed the character of many neighborhoods and cities, let’s focus on building beautiful, enlightened cities for people.

What They Wear: Our Fave Tastemakers Share Their Top Bike Apparel

November 30th, 2015

We asked a few of our favorite tastemakers, writers, and trendsetters who also happen to ride PUBLIC bikes to share their top bike apparel. Their responses range from vintage dresses to classy bike gloves and prove that you can really wear anything (even a wedding dress) while riding a bike! Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman… Read more »

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We asked a few of our favorite tastemakers, writers, and trendsetters who also happen to ride PUBLIC bikes to share their top bike apparel. Their responses range from vintage dresses to classy bike gloves and prove that you can really wear anything (even a wedding dress) while riding a bike!

A Beautiful Mess Shares Their Top Bike Apparel
Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman | @abeautifulmess
Elsie and Emma of A Beautiful Mess love to wear vintage or handmade dresses with tights or leggings when they ride their PUBLIC C7 bikes. They love this vintage inspired holiday-themed dress from Modcloth.

A Cup of Jo Shares Her Top Bike Apparel
Joanna Goddard | @joannagoddard
Joanna of A Cup of Jo likes wearing any loose dress (She’s sporting one from Madewell in this shot) because it’s easy to hop on and off her PUBLIC C7 step through bike in a dress. She also favors high waisted jeans because “you don’t have to worry about your jeans riding down when you’re riding!” She thinks Madewell makes the best high waisted jeans.

Jessica | @hapatime
Jessica of Hapatime loves wearing Converse sneakers when she goes for a spin on her PUBLIC V7 and also recommends sweater dresses because they keep you warm and cool at the same time during the crisp Fall weather.

Tablehopper Shares Her Top Bike Apparel
Marcia Gagliardi | @tablehopper

Marcia of tablehoppper rides her PUBLIC mixte everywhere and finds that a pair of white leather Giro LX cycling gloves is the perfect accessory. These gloves have a classic look to them, with just enough modern performance features. We’re excited that our favorite restaurant columnist was recently selected the winner of Time Out New York’s Win the Ultimate New York Life competition. Prepare to read insightful, fun dispatches from NYC next year from Marcia!


Emma Chapman | @emmaredvelvet
Though not recommended for daily riding, if you’re a bike lover who’s about to tie the knot you might consider getting a snap of you in your wedding gown while riding a bike. Risky, perhaps. But the result, beautiful. Emma of A Beautiful Mess proves it’s entirely possible with this gorgeous photo of her wearing her handmade wedding dress while riding her PUBLIC C7.

Instagram-Favs_10
Weylie | @weylie
It’s all about comfort and practicality for Weylie. When she’s riding her PUBLIC Bike she’s usually running errands or meeting up with friends, which is why causal outfits that suit the occasion are her go-to. Her go-to closed toe casual shoes are Nike.

Belting It Out In Public: The Karaoke Rickshaw

November 23rd, 2015

It’s a bike. It’s a disco ball. It’s…the Karaoke Rickshaw. For most of us, a bike is simply a way to get around. But with lots of creativity and ingenuity, bikes like the Karaoke Rickshaw can bring together a community of friends and strangers in public spaces over song, dance, and laughter. We first spotted… Read more »

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600-Karaoke-Rickshaw
It’s a bike. It’s a disco ball. It’s…the Karaoke Rickshaw. For most of us, a bike is simply a way to get around. But with lots of creativity and ingenuity, bikes like the Karaoke Rickshaw can bring together a community of friends and strangers in public spaces over song, dance, and laughter.

We first spotted the Karaoke Rickshaw on a lunch break outside our office in San Francisco. Even though it is San Francisco, a city full of characters and silly traditions, it’s not often you see a rolling, shiny karaoke disco ball-shaped vehicle.

We’re drawn to the fact that the Karaoke Rickshaw brings smiles to faces and also brings something (singing) that’s largely done inside into the public realm.

burning+man+22

Inspired by an article from The Guardian entitled “Playable Cities: the city that plays together, stays together”, we wrote in a previous blog post about some of the playful activities and events in several cities that connect people:

“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.”

And that’s why the Karaokoe Rickshaw got our attention. It invites “play” in our public spaces – and helps people feel connected and, yes, a little happier.

Watch the below video to see some of the fun.

PUBLIC Portraits Project

April 24th, 2015

Portraits by Alex Farnum PORTRAITS BY ALEX FARNUM

We’re partnering with local photographer Alex Farnum and creative director George McCalman on a series of 10 portraits of customers in San Francisco. Think about yourself being professionally featured by us. It’ll be fun.

We’re not looking for celebrities nor judging people by glamour standards. Instead, we’re after interesting true stories that communicate the diversity of everyday people who ride PUBLIC bikes.

Teachers, gardeners, musicians, pastry chefs, social workers, artists, lawyers, surfers, carpenters, baristas, programmers, librarians, dog walkers, or bankers. We’ll take all comers, and we’re more interested in your life and story than your occupation. But you must live or work in San Francisco to participate.

If selected, you’ll need to make yourself available for an extended interview and a portrait photography session. We’ll use these portraits in our stores, our website, and social media – and you will have editorial approval. Here is what we need:

  • A headshot or portrait of yourself. A selfie is preferred over anything professional or stylized.
  • One short paragraph about yourself, your background, and what makes you an interesting character.

We’ll give everyone who participates a $100 merchandise credit, but you should only volunteer if you’re excited about this project and have a story you’d like to tell.

Send your submission to hello{at}publicbikes{DOT}com before May 3. We’ll just follow-up and schedule photography sessions with those selected customers.

Seattle Is Leading The Way

March 23rd, 2015

Seattle Bike Lane Divider / Image from SDOT If you haven’t heard the news, we’re opening our first PUBLIC store outside the Bay Area next month in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. We couldn’t be more excited about joining forces with our sister city to the north to advance our shared mission to grow cities that… Read more »

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Blue Bike Lane Divider Seattle Bike Lane Divider / Image from SDOT

If you haven’t heard the news, we’re opening our first PUBLIC store outside the Bay Area next month in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. We couldn’t be more excited about joining forces with our sister city to the north to advance our shared mission to grow cities that are more bike, pedestrian, and transit friendly. There’s a lot happening in Seattle to be excited about. Take its creative bright blue bike lane separators, as one clever example.

It is home to the most influential walking and biking advocacy organizations in the country. The Cascade Bicycle Club is leading the way, along with allied organizations like Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and local blogs like Seattle Bike Blog, to push for changes to Seattle’s public spaces. The city is investing heavily in bike infrastructure, with new protected bike lanes and a new bike sharing system just rolling out.

Two Way Bike Lanes Davey Oil, pictured with his kids, is owner of G&O Family Cyclery in Greenwood. Behind them is Madi Carlson, author of FamilyRide.us, with her kids.

The new safe bike lanes on 2nd Ave have tripled bike traffic already. It’s also one of the safest cities in the US for pedestrians and cyclists. The Seattle area has long been one of our top markets for online orders, and our friends at Ride Bicycles in NE Roosevelt, Seattle have been among our top independent PUBLIC dealers for years. We look forward to joining forces with them across town!

But the simplest explanation we can find for why Seattle is quickly becoming one of America’s great livable cities is summed up in this chart:

Communities Graph Institute for Quality Communities Graph, University of Oklahoma

Despite all the hills, and the rain, and the sprawl, more people in Seattle get to work without a car than any other city on the west coast, besides our own. That’s not just because people in Seattle are a special breed, but because city leaders and effective advocacy groups are bringing smarter design to their city, making it a friendlier place for humans to get around, not just cars. At PUBLIC, this livable cities movement is one we’re proud to be a part of, and we can’t wait to help Seattle give San Francisco a run for its money.

But the real question is: when the 49ers play the Seahawks next season, what colors will we wear? Stay tuned!


Rapha + PUBLIC Giveaway Winner

February 12th, 2015

We’re excited to announce that the winner of our Rapha + PUBLIC Giveaway is Elliott S. from El Dorado Hills, CA. Elliott grew up riding mountain bikes around Folsom Lake, CA. In college he recalls riding his rusty single speed road bike between his classes and his grocery job, and then going for trail rides… Read more »

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Congrats to Elliott, the Rapha + PUBLIC Giveaway Winner!

We’re excited to announce that the winner of our Rapha + PUBLIC Giveaway is Elliott S. from El Dorado Hills, CA.

Elliott grew up riding mountain bikes around Folsom Lake, CA. In college he recalls riding his rusty single speed road bike between his classes and his grocery job, and then going for trail rides on the weekends.

What draws him to riding is the convenience and the freedom. “When I bike I don’t have to worry about parking or spending money on car insurance,” said Elliott.

When he previously lived in San Francisco he bike commuted daily to work and loved seeing the bike infrastructure improvements in the city, like bike lanes along the Embarcadero. Since bikes have always been a part of his life and he believes in encouraging the biking lifestyle, he donates regularly to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

Currently, Elliott is living his “dream job” as a videographer for Kirkwood Mountain Resort. When the gig ends, he’s excited to move back to the Bay Area where he plans to “ride this PUBLIC D8i Chrome everywhere!”

We look forward to seeing Elliott riding around the city on his stylish new wheels. Sign up for our e-newsletter to hear about our next giveaway!

Tips From a Pro For Winter Bike Riding

February 11th, 2015

When scrolling through our Instagram feed a few weeks ago, we came across a series of pictures from a PUBLIC rider named Jen Dykxhoorn and took pause. There she was, with her PUBLIC C1 and Porteur Rack in the snowy cold of a typical Canadian winter, riding to work. Inspiring. We wanted to know more…. Read more »

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Jen and her PUBLIC C1 during an Ottawa winter / © Dwayne Brown the loveOttawa project

When scrolling through our Instagram feed a few weeks ago, we came across a series of pictures from a PUBLIC rider named Jen Dykxhoorn and took pause. There she was, with her PUBLIC C1 and Porteur Rack in the snowy cold of a typical Canadian winter, riding to work. Inspiring. We wanted to know more. Like, why the heck she rides in the snow and what tips did she have for others on biking in winter weather?

We picked Jen’s brain about all things winter riding-related and she was game enough to answer in wonderful detail. For all you need to know about riding in the snow and safe winter bike riding, read on.

PUBLIC: Biking in the winter seems challenging. Why do you do it?

JEN: For so many reasons. I know this sounds contradictory, but for me, winter is both a wonderful adventure and a calming meditation.

The Adventure

I think adventure can be found everywhere, if you are willing to look for it. One of the reasons I bike through the winter is it gives me a little adventure “fix” every day. On my bike, I can challenge myself mentally and physically, explore parts of the city, and spend my day feeling more alive, alert, and happy. By the time I roll into work in the morning, I feel like a champ who has taken on winter and won. My coworkers/friends shake their heads at my “crazy” winter biking, but underneath their incredulity, I think they think it is rather cool.

The Meditation

At the same time, I also find biking in the winter to be calming and nearly meditative. Particularly in the winter, you need to be aware of what is going on around you, and to concentrate on cycling. It is the only part of my day where I am not expected to multitask – flipping between emails, phone calls, and tasks with 10 tabs open on my browser. It is refreshing to only focus on a single task – the simple, rhythmic experience of pumping your legs up and down. You don’t need to worry about what is to come, you only need to tackle the current challenge that is in front of you – from finding the best track through snow or tackling the big hill.

Jen bike commuting during the winter / © Dwayne Brown the loveOttawa project

And also, there is magic. There is something magical about riding home in the evening as the perfect “movie” snow falls around you in big, white, fluffy flakes. Moments like that make winter biking an absolute joy.

PUBLIC: What simple tips and suggestions can you offer for getting one started on biking in winter weather?

JEN: The great news is that you don’t need to be a “hard core” cyclist to ride in the winter, and that all of the reasons you love to ride the rest of the year are true even when the snow flies.

I think most people don’t realize that winter biking is not that hard or foreign, and it is totally within reach. You just need to give it a try! The hardest part is deciding to bike, all the rest is just a matter of logistics.

There are some simple things you can do to make the transition to winter riding a pleasant one:

Clothing:

  • Cover your skin. While there are tons of special clothes and products you can buy, you don’t really need most of them for short rides. I think the most important thing is to cover your skin as the wind will find ways into any gaps.
  • Work clothes are fine to ride in. I actually ride most days in my work clothes. If I am wearing a dress, I will throw on a pair of wind-resistant pants underneath for the ride. If I am wearing dress pants, I will layer with a pair of merino wool long johns.
  • Special outerwear is not a requirement. The outerwear is no different from what I would wear out-and-about in town. I have a vintage fur coat that is excellent for riding, I wear leather mittens that block the wind and are cozy, and wrap a scarf around my head and neck, which is thin enough to fit under my helmet, but adds enough protection to keeps my ears warm.
  • Equipment:

  • The other thing to remember when biking in the winter is that the days are shorter, so make sure you have a good set of lights to be visible. I make sure I bring all my lights inside, because the cold can suck the life out of batteries really quickly.
  • The only other piece of equipment that I would put in the “nearly mandatory” category is a good set of fenders.
  • My “luxury” items include a pair of ski goggles for the really cold days and a studded tire on my front wheel, which adds additional traction when the conditions are slick.
  • PUBLIC: How to you keep your wheels from slipping all over the place?

    JEN: The best advice I have for that is to slow down a little and ride in a straight line. Trying to brake quickly, ride quickly around corners, or make sudden changes in direction would be when you might get into trouble.

    The golden rule of mountain biking applies to snowy conditions – look where you want to go! Look for the best route through the snow, and your wheels will follow.

    I also put a studded tire on my front wheel, which adds quite a bit of additional traction, particularly for cornering.

    PUBLIC: When riding in the snow, where in the road should you be riding?

    JEN: When I am on the road I like to ride approximately where the right wheel track for cars would be (approximately 1 meter or 2 ½ feet from the curb). If you get too close to the curb, there tends to be lots of slush and debris there, which can be very hazardous.

    I find that it is much safer to take the space you need on the road, which means you can ride in a predictable manner and that you are visible to other road users.

    I am lucky to live in Ottawa, where the city has made a commitment to clearing some of the bike lanes as part of the “winter biking network.” For a portion of my commute, I get to ride a lovely separated bike lane, which is kept relatively clear as part of the city’s regular snow clearing.

    Jen, sporting her "mascara saving" ski goggles / © Dwayne Brown the loveOttawa project

    PUBLIC: I notice you bust out some serious goggles. Talk to us about those.

    JEN: While most days, I am fine with a scarf coving 80% of my face, Ottawa can get REALLY cold. For the extra frigid days, picking up a pair of downhill ski goggles was one of my best winter biking decisions. When the mercury dips below -10*C, the goggles keep my eyes positively cozy.

    The additional perk of wearing ski goggles is that your mascara won’t freeze on your lashes, only to melt all over your face as soon as you get inside a building. This happened to me on my 2nd day at a new job, and let me tell you, it was not a pretty sight!

    PUBLIC: Your bike probably gets really dirty with all the wet and snow. How do you maintain your bike?

    JEN: If you are going to ride through the winter, you need to show your bike some love, as the sand and salt can be really bad for your bike! I like to give my bike a good sponge bath every week to get off the worst of the salt and gunk.

    I also use a wet chain lube on my chain and also in the freewheel to keep things from seizing up.

    The salt is a particularly destructive force, so be come spring, I will bring my ride into my local bike shop for the “full spa treatment.” I am sure some parts will have to be replaced, but that is fine. I am a much happier person for being able to cycle in the snow, so springing for a new chain or some upgrades when the spring comes is completely reasonable.

    If you are looking for an all-season ride, I love my single speed PUBLIC C1. I don’t need to worry about gears in the winter, and the upright positioning gives me great positioning to be aware of what is going on around me.

    PUBLIC: Are fenders helpful?

    JEN: Oh my gosh, I think fenders are absolutely essential. I would be drenched and miserable without fenders. They are two bits of metal that separate misery from comfort and protecting me from the misery having a “skunk tail stripe” down my back of dirt and a face full of slush. I think fenders are absolutely essential for a winter bike. I have seen very creative DIY fender solutions, but I am so grateful for my full fender set.

    PUBLIC: Anything you’d like to add?

    JEN: It is OK to take a day (or two) off winter riding. Some days there are brutally cold arctic winds that just existing is hard, or the occasional massive snowfall dumps. Knowing what days to hop on the bus and what days to battle through the conditions is an art.

    Stay safe and enjoy the ride!


    Additional information:

    All photos courtesy of Dwayne Brown for the Love Ottawa Project

    Read more about Jen’s love for winter biking on her blog.