Do Good By Bike: Vol 6 – San Francisco Yellow Bike Project

April 4th, 2017

#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich their community through their two-wheeled advocacy. If you have a nominee for #DoPublicGood, please let us know in the comments and if selected we’ll send you both a PUBLIC gift certificate…. Read more »

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#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich their community through their two-wheeled advocacy. If you have a nominee for #DoPublicGood, please let us know in the comments and if selected we’ll send you both a PUBLIC gift certificate.

We’re taking part too. Follow our Instagram Story (@publicbikes) each Thursday as we bike-courier food from a restaurant to shelter in San Francisco, CA.

san francisco yellow bike projectMobile Bike Shop at Civic Center Plaza in SF offering bike repairs. Photo by Mary Kay Chin.

In Volume 6 of #DoPublicGood, we interview Nathan Woody, Executive Director of The San Francisco Yellow Bike Project (SFYBP) in San Francisco, California. SFYPB works to empower the community through the bicycle, by refurbishing bikes for the young and young at heart and offering Earn-A-Bike programs. Read on for our full Q&A with Nathan to learn more about the inspiring work done by SFYPB.

PUBLIC: Please describe what your project is all about?
Nathan: The San Francisco Yellow Bike Project is a grassroots, pop-up, do-it-yourself, community-building machine that brings dead bikes back to life and puts more city dwellers on two wheels. It’s a healthy revolution for San Francisco.

We offer community shop nights, access to inexpensive bike parts and refurbished bicycles, bike swaps for kids, and other programming that lowers to barriers to riding and creates a sense of community around the bike.

san francisco yellow bike projectPaddy showing volunteer, Lauren how to level a bike saddle. Photo by Nathan Woody.

PUBLIC: Talk to us about your Earn-A-Bike Program?
Nathan: Our Earn-a-Bike program is a way for people with limited financial means to acquire a bicycle. The participant pays a low sliding scale program fee then refurbishes the bicycle themselves, learning some mechanical skills along the way. In some cases volunteers complete administrative tasks or other non-mechanical jobs that Yellow Bike needs to have done. The only catch, with our tiny shop, is that participants take the bike with them from the shop after the program fee is paid.

PUBLIC: Please describe the Kids Program?
Nathan: A couple of times each year we gather up 10-20 kids’ bikes and get them fixed up and ready for their next owner. Working with a partner organization (like a school or neighborhood center) we identify a group of kids with bikes they’ve outgrown or non-functional bicycles and hold a Kids’ Bike Swap for them. They bring their old bike and swap it for a new-to-them bike that fits. Those without a bike to swap can pay $0-$40 on a sliding scale to pick one up that works for them. We have no other program that provides more excitement and hope for the future, and it’s one of our volunteers’ favorite programs–it brings smiles galore to everyone who participates, kids and volunteers.

san francisco yellow bike projectHoward, learning to ride at a Tenderloin Kids’ Bike Swap with a bike he received from SFYBP. Photo Mary Kay Chin.

PUBLIC: Can you highlight a few examples of people your program has helped?
Nathan: We have helped people who range from kids from the Tenderloin to SF City Supervisors Eric Mar and Jane Kim, and treat everyone with equal respect. We have helped people with $0 in their pockets to get their bike up and running. We have helped people with a functional bike find a community where they are welcomed and a part of something that allows them to give back. We have helped empower countless shop users with our DIY approach to bike repair that demystifies the machine and creates access to tools and knowledge.

Specifically Howard comes to mind. He was 5 years old and came to a Tenderloin bike swap with nothing. He left having learned how to ride without training wheels on his new-to-him bike. Or perhaps Ellis, a neighbor who became a shop user, who became a volunteer, who became a key holder, until eventually we all just became “yellow bike fam”, his bicycling community. Or Mia, a Swiss traveler that bought a bike, strapped her backpack to it, and a couple days later, rode to Los Angeles.

PUBLIC: In your words, why is the bicycle able to change lives?
Nathan: The bicycle is a perfect form of transportation for humans. Efficient, affordable, and reliable, bicycles are very much the ultimate utilitarian vehicle. It is a social medium, a therapist, a political statement, an environmental protest or celebration, a personal trainer, a dear friend, an emergency vehicle, and so much more. The bicycle changes lives because it provides freedom to people that use it. I understand that the bicycle doesn’t “suit” everyone, and that’s ok. The people it does suit are rewarded in many ways and the world is better as a result.

san francisco yellow bike projectCore SFYBP volunteer, Rezz picking up donated bikes and moving them into storage. Photo by Nathan Woody.

PUBLIC: How can people get involved with San Francisco Yellow Bike? Are you looking for volunteers?
Nathan: SFYBP is always looking for more people with time and energy to support our cause!. We’ve made it 6 years in SF as a 100% volunteer-run, donation-based organization thanks to the dedication of our community and volunteers. We are seeking all levels and kinds of involvement, everything from non-profit administration down to fixing flats and teaching kids how to ride. One piece of our core mission is education through volunteerism, so if anyone wants to learn bike repair in a low-stakes environment they should come to our community shop nights, currently 6-9 pm Monday. Wednesday and Thursday evenings (and consider becoming a regular shop night volunteer!). To provide help on the administrative level, please email our Executive Director, Nathan Woody at Nathan@sfyellowbike.org

san francisco yellow bike projectMia, a traveler from Switzerland, bought a bike from SFYBP and headed to LA on it the next day. Photo by Nathan Woody.

PUBLIC: Anything else you’d like to add?
Nathan: SFYBP was founded in 2011 as a response to the SF Board of Supervisors’ goal of reaching 20% bicycle transportation mode share by the year 2020. In a city suffering from social justice inequality and wealth stratification, SFYBP exists to serve all those that want our help. We do not judge by gender or race or socioeconomic status. We help people that respect our shop, our tools and our time. We help, we help others, we help others help, we help others help others.

International Women’s Day: Celebrating Women Who Ride

March 7th, 2017

In honor of International Women’s Day, March 8, 2017 we are saluting women who ride in different ways, in different places and for different reasons. Whether these women are riding their bikes in high heels or clip-in shoes, leisurely rolling to the the farmers market or drafting each other along California Highway 1 during the… Read more »

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In honor of International Women’s Day, March 8, 2017 we are saluting women who ride in different ways, in different places and for different reasons. Whether these women are riding their bikes in high heels or clip-in shoes, leisurely rolling to the the farmers market or drafting each other along California Highway 1 during the AIDS/Lifecycle, they all opted to ride a bike, their way.

Read on for photos of each woman, their answer to the question “I ride because…” and a fun fact or two about each of them (aka, one of them is a chef for the animals at the Oakland Zoo in Oakland, CA!).

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT TIFFINY: I’m a high school art teacher who loves to bake. I started baking through Bon Appétit’s dessert cookbook almost three years ago. I think I’ll finish when I’m 95 years old! Just in time to open my own bakery. 😉

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT VICKY & RACHEL: We are the creative duo behind the Instagram account @webikeforbeer and one of our life goals is to be contestants on the Amazing Race together.

women who ride international women's day
FUN FACTS ABOUT TDo: I joined AIDS/Lifecycle as a roadie because I wanted to put energy and time into helping others. While volunteering, I saw so many cyclists having so much fun so I participated in ALC as a cyclist the following year and have done that for the past 4 years. This year, I’m a co-captain of SWAT’s ALC team (She Wolf Attack Team). (Before ALC, the last time I rode a bike was when I was 11 years old.) That was the start. Cycling has become to mean so much more to me since then. It has shown me what I’m capable of, been my therapist, my personal trainer and my yoga on wheels.

Extra fun fact: At 5’0″ I somehow got a scholarship to play college basketball!

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT HEATHER: I come from a long line of family who have worked in the National Park Service. One of the places I lived when I was little was Petrified Forest. While I lived there they found the oldest known remains of a dinosaur! Between both of my grandfathers, father and a few uncles, my family has helped to educate people about the importance of national parks from Washington DC, to Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, North Cascades and many more!

international womens day bike rider

FUN FACTS ABOUT JENN: A few years ago I started Field Day Creative, a floral design company here in my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. I use local, seasonal blooms when possible, pulling inspiration from my surroundings and the natural variations in plants to create floral designs that emulate freshly gathered flowers from the garden.

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT VERONICA: When I bike I feel born again when the fresh wind hits my face 😊 + I get to see more of this beautiful world 🌎. Also, I’m obsessed with my bike, I take it almost everywhere I go ♀️🙈.

international women's day bike rider

FUN FACTS ABOUT MARI: I once sold weed to Snoop Dog.

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT ANNA: The higher the heels the safer I feel, even when I’m cycling! 😉👠 Biking helps me escape from the real world and dream. The the joy it brings makes me stronger, more powerful and happier! And when I’m happy I can conquer the world!

FUN FACTS ABOUT MONICA: I sent a friend to the hospital while playing a casual game of catch before a softball game. And I had 11 stitches put in my chin about year ago due to a bike accident. I still ride that bike, though, and I still ride every day! (Note from PUBLIC: Monica was featured in our post about bike couriers here.)

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT BECKY SUE: I created Baking The Goods, a space to share my recipes, writing, and photography with food motivated friends who like a bit of sass with their sweets. (Note from PUBLIC: Check out one of Becky Sue’s recipes on our blog here.)

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT MANDY: I learned how to ride a bike without training wheels at 4 years old from watching my mom try to teach my older brother. It is the first memory I have of feeling accomplished, independent, and proud to be a girl!

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT STACY: I’m the Zoo Chef (for the animals) at the Oakland Zoo in Oakland, CA.

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT CHELSY: I’m an identical twin.

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT PAMELA: I’ve been a vegetarian for over 20 yrs. (Note from PUBLIC: Pamela is also a photographer who took all the photography for our post on bike couriers here.)

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT MAE: Riding around city streets or cruising along the beaches of the California coast – I’m always reminded to focus on the present moment. The sounds and smells, the feeling of the wind in my hair makes me feel grateful for being alive.

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT MICHELE: I LOVE GLITTER!

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT CINDY: If you name 10 ice cream shops in San Francisco, I’ve been to 9 of them. (Note from PUBLIC: Cindy is chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party and a leader with one of the city’s largest affordable housing developers).

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT ANNE: I’m an Episcopal priest in Philadelphia, PA. And, I am also an avid Argentine tango dancer.

international women's day bike riders

FUN FACTS ABOUT JULIE: She’s PUBLIC’s Retail Operations Manager, a meticulous crafter and maker of insanely (like, blow your mind) delicious Furikake Chex Mix.

international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT GABI: I’ve only lived in 3 states (CT, TX, and MA), but I’ve moved over 15 times! Yet, I’m still somehow a last-minute packer, through and through. Also, for me biking is exercise AND fun all rolled into one, and I’m so thankful to have my handy bike to help me zoom around town.

Do Good By Bike: Vol 5 – Good Karma Bikes

February 28th, 2017

#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich their community through their two-wheeled advocacy. If you have a nominee for #DoPublicGood, please let us know in the comments and if selected we’ll send you both a PUBLIC gift certificate…. Read more »

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#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich their community through their two-wheeled advocacy. If you have a nominee for #DoPublicGood, please let us know in the comments and if selected we’ll send you both a PUBLIC gift certificate.

We’re taking part too. Follow our Instagram Story (@publicbikes) each Thursday as we bike-courier food from a restaurant to shelter in San Francisco, CA.

do good by bike

In Volume 5 of #DoPublicGood, we interview Cindy Ahola, Vice President of Operations at Good Karma Bikes in San Jose, California. Good Karma Bikes is aptly named, it’s a full-service, second-hand bike shop whose proceeds support under-resourced youth, low-income families and the homeless. Read on for our full Q&A with Cindy to learn more about the inspiring work done by Good Karma Bikes.

good karma bikes

“We believe bicycles provide an ability to make a living, to be independent, and to make contributions to your world.”
– Cindy Ahola

PUBLIC: Please describe what Good Karma Bikes is all about?
Cindy: Good Karma Bikes is a nonprofit social enterprise. We are a full-service, second-hand bike shop that’s open to the public. Our revenue supports programs serving low income families, homeless individuals, and under-resourced young people, with a special focus on the support and education of former foster youth.

We started in 2009 as a mobile operation fixing bikes for free at shelters, soup kitchens and encampments. In 2013, the social enterprise was born and the sale of bicycles supported expanded free services for our clients. In 2014, we recognized a common factor among the clients we were serving — many of them had been in the foster care system. It was then we knew we had to add a new focus: prevention.

We serve and enhance our community by offering safe, reliable transportation with refurbished bicycles kept from the landfill. Today, not only do we continue to provide the same services we established at the very beginning, but we also work toward preventing the very issues our current clients confront; homelessness, incarceration, insufficient education and more.

good karma bikes

PUBLIC: Talk to us about your College Outreach & Opportunity Program?
Cindy: 70% of California inmates are wards of court or were in foster care, and nationally 50% of the homeless population spent time in foster care.* In our two-year program, former foster youth move from feeling disenfranchised and vulnerable to becoming self-sufficient, confident, and productive members of society.

Youth receive intensive two-year case management, both in-house and with our partners. As part of this program, youth are stably housed, trained in bike mechanics and retail, work in our shop, attend life skills seminars, prepare for and attend college, volunteer in the community, and become mentors to new youth entering the program.

PUBLIC: Please describe how your Bike Voucher Program works?
Cindy: Good Karma Bikes has several programs whereby low-income individuals can acquire a bicycle at low or no cost. Our most popular program is our Work-To-Earn Bicycle Program. Any individual can volunteer for six hours at Good Karma Bikes and earn a $100 bicycle. While they work, the bicycle fitting their needs is refurbished by another volunteer. Upon completion of required hours, they can ride away on their “new” bicycle. We’re proud of the fact that so many continue on to volunteer, even after they’ve earned their bicycle.

do good by bike

PUBLIC: Can you highlight a few examples of people your program has helped?
Cindy: Many of our Work-To-Earn volunteers and Free Repair Clinic clients are low-income and homeless individuals who have jobs and rely on bicycles as their primary transportation. A missed day of work can mean the difference between keeping that job and losing it. Having a reliable mode of transportation each day means one more day of success. A volunteer recently shared how important it was for him to know he could “get up and go to a job and be something each day.”

Some of our Work-To-Earn volunteers feel they don’t add value to the world. As a volunteer, they can learn basic repairs and fix others’ bikes. Many tell us how glad they are to learn a useful skill and how good they feel doing something for others.

One of our program youth began two years ago shy, overweight, knew little about and rarely rode a bicycle. Less than one year in the program, he’d overhauled and upgraded his bike to the envy of all in the shop. He rode everywhere (even 20 miles to school), talked to people at red lights, lost weight, mentored new mechanics, and inspired his family and friends to ride. He even won Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition’s Commuter of the Year in 2016**. He’s since graduated the program and is in school full-time. This young man changed the course of his life with a bicycle.

We are privileged to work alongside so many people as they change their lives and the lives of others.

do good by bike

PUBLIC: In your words, why is the bicycle able to change lives?
Cindy: In order to survive in this world, you have to have transportation. We believe bicycles provide an ability to make a living — to be independent and to make contributions to your world.

good karma bikes

PUBLIC: How can people get involved with Good Karma Bikes?
Cindy: All of our bicycles are donated. If you would like to donate a bicycle, we will gladly take yours and provide a complete overhaul and warranty for its new owner. Check our website for information and shop hours

We rely heavily on our amazing team of volunteers to make all this magic happen. And you don’t even need to be a bike mechanic! We can teach you that. Or come in and help us behind the scenes. If you’re interested in volunteering, email volunteer@goodkarmabikes.org.

Of course, we’d love to say hi and tell you more in person! Visit our shop at 460 Lincoln Avenue in San Jose or email us at goodkarma@goodkarmabikes.org.


* California Senate Office of Research, December 2011 Policy Matters “State survey of California prisoners: What percentage of the state’s polled prison inmates Were once foster care children?”

*Foster Focus Online Magazine “Foster Care and Homelessness” By Shalita O’Neale.

**Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. Connecting Our Communities, “Meet Silicon Valley’s 2016 Bicycle Commuters of the Year” by Carlos V., May 11, 2016

Petal Power: Bike Flower Couriers

January 31st, 2017

What’s something that can elicit almost as many “Ooohs and Aaahs” as a puppy or baby? Spotting a bike flower courier whose front basket and messenger backpack are overflowing with beautiful bouquets. As Valentine’s Day approaches we’ve been seeing more and more of these petal pushers spinning through the city. So in partnership with BloomThat (responsible… Read more »

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Bike Flower Couriers

What’s something that can elicit almost as many “Ooohs and Aaahs” as a puppy or baby? Spotting a bike flower courier whose front basket and messenger backpack are overflowing with beautiful bouquets. As Valentine’s Day approaches we’ve been seeing more and more of these petal pushers spinning through the city. So in partnership with BloomThat (responsible for the gorgeous blooms pictured) and with the help of photographer (and biker!) Pamela of Pamela Palma Photography we hopped on our bikes and followed a few bike flower couriers as they pedaled (and posed) with flowers around San Francisco. Read on to learn about each of the bike couriers and see more photos.


BIKE COURIER 1: MONICA
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: Tell us a little about you. Who you are? Where you’re from?
MONICA: I’m a bay area native. Born and raised in the east bay
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC:How did you become a bike courier?
MONICA: Pedal Express in Oakland was hiring and I happened to be looking for a job.
PUBLIC: What’s the best part about being a bike courier?
MONICA: Having better knowledge of the streets is pretty tight.
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: What’s the worst part of the job?
MONICA: Dealing with the diverse forms of traffic on the road is rough. Between ride sharing, public transportation and lost drivers, you have to be on your toes all the time.
PUBLIC: Any tips for navigating city traffic by bike?
MONICA: Always be aware of your surroundings. Don’t hesitate to be vocal and ring your bell to make sure cars know you’re there.
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever carried via bike?
MONICA: The craziest thing I’ve carried was really the distance I had to go with the order. I had to pick up a package in the Diamond Heights neighborhood of San Francisco and drop it off miles away in Daly City. It felt like that job took forever.
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: What’s the best reaction you’ve received from couriering flowers by bike?
MONICA: Ladies love it, and so do people with kids. Flower deliveries are usually the most appreciated of deliveries.
PUBLIC: What’s the best way to carry flowers on a bike?
MONICA: Definitely by a mess {messenger} bag. You can just expand those things and stuff it full and even put some flowers in the side pockets of the bag.


BIKE COURIER 2: SAM
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: Tell us a little about you. Who you are? Where you’re from?
SAM: I’m Sam Spicer. I’m from Portland, OR and I now live in San Francisco.
PUBLIC: How did you become a bike courier?
SAM: I became a courier back in Portland. Most of my dudes were already working as couriers. I had an opportunity to try it and, of course, fell in love with it.
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: What’s the best part about being a bike courier?
SAM: The best part about being a bike courier is that it’s the best excuse for looking super weird talking to yourself from a far on the bike. But really your just talking into the radio.
PUBLIC: What’s the worst part of the job?
SAM: Worst part of the job is finding the bathroom during a busy, busy day.
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: Any tips for navigating city traffic by bike?
SAM: Stay loose and ride smart. Always ride like no one sees you.
PUBLIC: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever carried via bike?
SAM: Two things stick out in memory. Up in Portland I had to deliver a 6 foot roll of carpet. That was awkward. Then recently with TCB I had to pick up a pillow up in the Haight district of San Francisco that was going to the Mission District. At pick up, I found out that it was a smiley face kid’s pillow that was taco themed.
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: What’s the best reaction you’ve received from couriering flowers by bike?
SAM: All the smiles are really the best ones
PUBLIC: What’s the best way to carry flowers on a bike?
SAM: Whatever is comfortable for you. Bag, rack, etc. Depends on how many in the end!


BIKE COURIER 3: ANTONIO
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: Tell us a little about you. Who you are? Where you’re from?
ANTONIO: My name is Antonio. I’m from the sucka-free city, 415 {San Francisco area code}.
PUBLIC: How did you become a bike courier?
Bike Flower Couriers
ANTONIO: I first noticed bike messengers when I got an internship at Pedal Revolution on 21st and South Van Ness in San Francisco. I loved the idea of riding a bike for a living; how you can make ends meet and be free from an office job or the regular 9-5 routine. I fell in love with the whole bike culture and I learned to ride everywhere I go. Before that I was a knucklehead (still kinda am) without much determination or direction. But now you will never see me without my bike, and I can truly say it saved my life.
PUBLIC: What’s the best part about being a bike courier?
Bike Flower Couriers
ANTONIO: Riding your bike everywhere. Riding through the city and not being tied down and stuck indoors.
PUBLIC: What’s the worst part of the job?
ANTONIO: Rainy days
PUBLIC: Any tips for navigating city traffic by bike?
ANTONIO: Make sure your brakes are on point. Always stay aware of your surroundings and watch out for doors opening . AT NIGHT USE LIGHTS.
PUBLIC: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever carried via bike?
ANTONIO: I helped a good friend of mine move out of her apartment on Hyde and Turk in San Francisco to a place way out on 2nd Ave and Anza. Lots of hills and lots of weight (clothes and plates and stuff like that). Lol.
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: What’s the best reaction you’ve received from couriering flowers by bike?
ANTONIO: I always get lots of ooooohs and aahhhhhs when I deliver flowers. People are happy to get flowers 99.99999% of the time. You always get smiles.
PUBLIC: What’s the best way to carry flowers on a bike?
ANTONIO: Fat stack on the front rack every time.


BIKE COURIER 4: IAN

Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: Tell us a little about you. Who you are? Where you’re from?
IAN: Ian McDonnell, Tucson Arizona.
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: How did you become a bike courier?
IAN: Just another job.
PUBLIC: What’s the best part about being a bike courier?
IAN: Free elevator rides.
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: What’s the worst part of the job?
IAN: Taking BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit).
PUBLIC: Any tips for navigating city traffic by bike?
IAN: Always hold the lane and take lefts early. Don’t get pinned in the right lane, especially parallel to right turning cars. Stay 3 feet away from parked cars. Watch out for doors opening.
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever carried via bike?
IAN: A freshly removed mouth’s worth of gold teeth.
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: What’s the best reaction you’ve received from couriering flowers by bike?
IAN: One time a lady freaked out because the flowers were sent by someone she had a restraining order against.
PUBLIC: What’s the best way to carry flowers on a bike?
IAN: Securely.


All photography by Pamela Palma Photography . Big thanks to BloomThat for providing the blooms and to all the couriers who took part in this post!

Do Good By Bike: Vol 4 – New Standard Cycles

January 29th, 2017

#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich their community through their two-wheeled advocacy. If you have a nominee for #DoPublicGood, please let us know in the comments and if selected we’ll send you both a PUBLIC gift certificate…. Read more »

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#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich their community through their two-wheeled advocacy. If you have a nominee for #DoPublicGood, please let us know in the comments and if selected we’ll send you both a PUBLIC gift certificate.

We’re taking part too. Follow our Instagram Story (@publicbikes) each Thursday as we bike-courier food from a restaurant to shelter in San Francisco, CA.

new standard cycles

In partnership with Blessings in a Book Bag, a nonprofit that provides services to children in need, SBC refurbishes bicycles and distributes them to kids every holiday season.

In Volume 4 of #DoPublicGood, we interview John Bennett, executive director of the Savannah Bicycle Campaign in Savannah, Georgia and founder of New Standard Cycles (NSC). NSC is an inspiring program that refurbishes donated bikes and, with the help of a local nonprofit, gives those bikes to people in the community to whom a bike could change their lives. They also offer bicycle repair classes and bicycle repair options for those who can’t afford it. Read on for our full Q&A with John and more pictures of the incredible work NSC does.

new standard cycles

New Standard Cycles volunteers sort parts and prepare them for reuse.

“Our nonprofit partners know their clients and recognize that bicycles can be life changing for them.”
– John Bennett

PUBLIC: Please tell us a little about where you work and what you do.
John: I am executive director of the Savannah Bicycle Campaign, a nonprofit bicycle advocacy organization founded in 2008 in Savannah, Ga. I’ve served in this position for about three and a half years. I was one of the organization’s co-founders. In my job I work with government officials to improve and expand our bicycle infrastructure network, provide education programs for children and adults, and organize events to encourage people to make bicycling a healthy part of their daily lives.

new standard cycles

Jen Colestock of SBC’s New Standard Cycles program introduces recently arrived refugees to their new bicycles. The recipients, who are chosen by Lutheran Services of Georgia’s refugee services office, use the bikes to start new jobs and new lives in our country.

PUBLIC: What does New Standard Cycles do?
John: Our program accepts donated bicycles, which are then refurbished by volunteers. We have established partnerships with nonprofit organizations and they identify recipients, for whom a bike can be the deciding factor in getting and keeping a job, going to school, remaining in a treatment program, or staying out of jail. Our nonprofit partners know their clients and recognize that bicycles can be life changing for them. Along with each bike, we also provide lights, a lock, a helmet, and a reflective vest. We also do a holiday bike drive, which provides bikes to children in underserved communities. Finally, we offer bicycle repair classes through a program called the Society of Important Cycling Knowledge (SICK). The goal is to teach people to handle basic bike repairs and maintenance tasks to keep their bikes running safely and smoothly in a friendly and fun environment.

new standard cycles

Savannah has the highest bicycle commuting rate in Georgia and SBC works to encourage more people to ride to work and other destinations.

PUBLIC: How did the idea for New Standard Cycles come about?
John: New Standard Cycles is based on a program operated by our friends at Bike Athens in Athens, Ga. We took their model and adapted it to Savannah. We have the highest rate of bicycle commuting in Georgia and many households that do not have access to motor vehicles. This is a city where thousands of people travel to work and other important destinations by bicycle every day. The building in which we are located began its life as a Standard Oil gas station in 1925, so the name New Standard Cycles is meant to acknowledge that history, but also reinforce the idea that bicycles can provide a new standard of mobility and economic empowerment for people in need.

PUBLIC: What do the people who receive donated bikes from NSC use them for
John: Our first bike went to a client, identified by Lutheran Services of Georgia’s refugee relocation service, who had served as a translator for the U.S. military in Afghanistan. He and his daughter were relocated to Savannah and he was hired at a hotel. Commuting to work by bike is faster and more flexible than taking public transit, so the bike we gave him allows him a viable way to get to his job, but also allows him to spend more time with his daughter before and after his shift. A more recent recipient was referred by Emmaus House, an organization that provides meals and other service to homeless people. She had recently moved out of a homeless camp into a more stable housing situation and was entering a job training program. The bike she received from us came along at just the right time for her. And this is what makes our relationships with other local nonprofits so effective. They watch for those precise moments when having safe, affordable, and dependable transportation can make all the difference in the world for someone who’s striving for a better life.

new standard cycles

SBC offers education programs for children, including bicycle rodeos and safe cycling programs at Girl Scout Camp.

PUBLIC: To date, how many adult and kids bikes have you given out?
John: At this point we refurbish about 100 bikes per year. We also provide minor repairs for people who cannot afford to have their bikes serviced at local bike shops.

PUBLIC: How can people get involved in NSC?
John: We have weekly volunteer sessions, which are managed by professional mechanic. Our volunteers are a mix of people who are capable bike mechanics and those who want to become more competent in maintaining their own bikes. They learn while serving others. We welcome anyone who wants to make life better for their fellow citizens.

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SBC organizes casual, family friendly rides to encourage people to explore Savannah by bike.

PUBLIC: Anything else you’d like to add?
John: Savannah has great potential as a cycling community. We have level terrain, a mild climate (except for July and August), a beautiful natural environment, and historic and cultural resources that attract tens of millions of visitors to our city every year. Savannah’s original city plan, developed by Gen. James Oglethorpe in 1733, has proved durable and sensible guide and is being used as a model by cities around the globe today. Although Oglethorpe predated bicycles by more than century, his city plan creates calm, beautiful, bikeable streets. Unfortunately, parts of his historic plan were obliterated to make way for automobiles. Working with our community partners, we aim to restore and expand the Oglethorpe Plan to ensure that people of all ages and abilities can live comfortably in Savannah without a car.

Caravan Outpost Marries Adventure Hoteling & Good Design

June 14th, 2016

Ever heard of “adventure hoteling”? If not, we’d like to introduce you to one of the places we’re most excited to visit this summer, Caravan Outpost in Ojai, CA. It’s an “adventure hotel” experience with all the amenities you’d get from a 5-star hotel, without any of the pretense. Just a restful, well-curated environment with thoughtful touches to make your vacation unique. Their motto… Read more »

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adventure hoteling caravan outpost public bikes

Ever heard of “adventure hoteling”? If not, we’d like to introduce you to one of the places we’re most excited to visit this summer, Caravan Outpost in Ojai, CA. It’s an “adventure hotel” experience with all the amenities you’d get from a 5-star hotel, without any of the pretense. Just a restful, well-curated environment with thoughtful touches to make your vacation unique. Their motto “No Room and Bored” and their colorful, eclectic Instagram account will make you add this spot to your travel bucket list, stat.

adventure hoteling caravan outpost public bikes

Plus, you’ll be able to ride PUBLIC bikes during your stay at Caravan Outpost. Riding around Ojai is just one of the many ways Caravan Outpost makes “Make Magic Moments” for its guests. Continue reading for our interview that includes all the details on this special place.

adventure hoteling caravan outpost public bikes

What’s the vision for Caravan Outpost and who are the people behind Caravan Outpost?

The Caravan Outpost mission is really simple; Make Magic Moments for the people who come here.

Think of Caravan Outpost as a handcrafted adventure hotel. We’re easy to book and stay, like a traditional hotel, but you’re not going to have a traditional hotel experience here. We call that our ‘No Room and Bored’ policy. At Caravan Outpost we have PUBLIC bikes, the fire-pit, our vintage tin shed lobby, Surf lessons, Yoga, Hiking, Pop up dinners and events – many other things to do. We work hard at guest experience, because even in the early stages of the business, the people who are coming here are creative and eclectic – they want more. Our guests are starving for an authentic lodging experience and want to taste something different in travel. If the average hotel is fast food, we’re geared more like a farm-to-table place to treat like your own home. Better ingredients make a better travel experience.

Who’s behind our company? First and foremost, the community who is helping us create it. One of our maxims is that the ‘Guest is the star’. Our investors and clientele are film industry types, artists, musicians, designers, chefs and professional athletes who want to extend a certain lifestyle and point of view into travel. The founding group is some of the leading people in the Outdoor and Fashion business, joined with one of the oldest and most community centered families in Ojai.

adventure hoteling caravan outpost public bikes

When is Caravan Outpost open to the public? What can people expect when they stay at Caravan Outpost?

The gates crack open on the place July 1. What you can expect is a great Airstream to stay in, cool people and warm weather. Our lobby area has all the traditional expectations of a hotel – WIFI, Organic pastries and great coffee in a community gathering space. A secondary expectation is simply that you will connect into our community – and find like-minded people who share your passion for art, music, food and the outdoors as a frame around your life experience.

adventure hoteling caravan outpost public bikes

What makes Caravan Outpost a special place and guest experience?

People, Products and Plants. We have amenities, clean bedrooms and all the things you would expect at any hotel – that’s not the hard part. The hard part is getting a good audience of authentic and artistic people to the same place and sharing something special with them. We offer personal care, attention to the details that matter to you and a place for you to get that feeling of a perfect day in Ojai – however you want to define that. Additionally, we make a really great looking apparel line that is augmented with vintage and Maker driven products. It’s a totally different spin on travel and apparel, but we’ve had visits from Italian Vogue, One Kings Lane, Escape Brooklyn, etc and these people are buying and loving the product side of our brand – and the hotel piece. Last, but certainly not least, the entire Caravan Outpost environment is a gorgeously appointed Botanical Garden, right in the middle of downtown Ojai. We have thousands of plants, several palms and exotic plant rarities for people to see, experience and learn about. One of our founders is a plant expert, and you can immediately see that special influence at the Outpost.

adventure hoteling caravan outpost public bikes

For someone who has never stayed in an Airstream, why should they consider Caravan Outpost for a relaxing, destination trip? Why stay in an Airstream over other options?

Why do anything different? Why not accept the status quo and do things the same old way? Being unique is a choice that our guests have already made – we’re just enabling a piece of who they already are, by bringing them a unique place to gather. We love Airstreams and think they are a fantastically comfortable, iconic space to live and stay in – but Caravan Outpost is not about Airstreams, it’s about the people who gather and enjoy our space.

Why Ojai and your specific location?

Ojai is our initial location, because we are rooted in the local community here and believe it to be a very special place. It’s so easy to create magic in this town, because so many good and wonderful people are already walking the streets, celebrating all the city has to offer. We believe Ojai is the American Mediterranean, and that no one is really telling that story of climate, food, wine and life in a unique valley that has a one-of-a-kind vibe to it. The history of Ojai has long been as a getaway from Hollywood and LA for the famous. One day in town and you get why people come here to center-up and find peace. Another key component is the sun. We are working our way to the most sustainable business we can create and solar is a big part of the picture. We’re not 100% off the grid, but we do have several Airstreams running on solar, skylights in restrooms, bathrooms and storage areas. Our partner Goal Zero has provided some amazing and compact solar panel products for our guest to demo, which is a baby step – but we’re working our way to being as solar powered as is possible.

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Why are you offering PUBLIC bikes at Caravan Outpost?

The answer goes back to our star – the guests at Caravan Outpost. There is no way we are putting our guests on anything other than what we believe are beautifully built bikes. PUBLIC and Caravan Outpost are such a good fit because we are both design driven – and both are created for people who appreciate a considered product. Public bikes have been a hit from the second we opened the boxes and the biggest problem we have right now is that we don’t have enough of them!

Black Girls Do Bike Inspires Women To Cycle

May 16th, 2016

PUBLIC is proud to support Black Girls Do Bike and their efforts to promote healthier lifestyles. We interview founder Monica Garrison below. Also learn more about the upcoming June 10-12 Black Girls Do Bike’s first National Event in Atlanta. PUBLIC Interview With Monica Garrison, founder of Black Girls Do Bike What was the inspiration behind… Read more »

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Black Girls Do Bike

PUBLIC is proud to support Black Girls Do Bike and their efforts to promote healthier lifestyles. We interview founder Monica Garrison below. Also learn more about the upcoming June 10-12 Black Girls Do Bike’s first National Event in Atlanta.

PUBLIC Interview With Monica Garrison, founder of Black Girls Do Bike

Black Girls Do Bike Monica Garrison

What was the inspiration behind launching Black Girls Do Bike? Tell us about coming up with the name.

The inspiration came after re-discovering how much I enjoyed the simple act of riding my bike in the spring and summer of 2013. I was reaping the physical and mental benefits and my children were joining me and learning to survive without their electronic devices. In my travels I quickly realized that there were very few women who looked like me out riding.

BlackGirlsDoBike.com was an attempt to seek out like minded women who had a passion for cycling but also to inspire those bike-curious lady who were just an obstacle away from cycling regularly. I chose to state it in the affirmative, “Black girls do bike!” as if to say that each time a women of color takes a ride she is reaffirming this truth to herself and to others.

Tell us more how Black Girls Do Bike is currently structured across the country and how volunteer leaders communicate and support each other?

Each of our chapters is led by a lady volunteer who we affectionately call a Shero. Each Shero at some point reached out to me with a desire to encourage more women in their community to ride bicycles. They lead rides, moderate their city’s individual Facebook group pages, network with local bike shops and bike/ped organizations and seek to be an overall voice of positivity and encouragement.

Internally all of our Sheroes are part of a secret Facebook group that we use to support one another in this endeavor. We offer praise, advice, frustrations and suggestions for success. We also have a Shero only password protected website with all the need to know stuff.

Black Girls Do Bike

What has surprised you about the being recognized and involved as a voice in the national bicycle advocacy movement?

The funny thing is that 4 years ago I didn’t even own a bike and had never participated in an organized bike ride of any sort. What I had was a desire to ride and that has set me on a truly life changing journey. It has been such a whirlwind for the past couple of years to be at the helm of such an amazing organization.

Now I find myself mentioned as a voice in the national bike advocacy movement. I am much more comfortable being considered a voice in the national women’s advocacy movement. Either way we are busy in the work of empowering women with the help of bicycles.

Black Girls Do Bike

Tell us about your upcoming June 10-12 National Meetup “We Ride Together” in Atlanta? What do you hope to accomplish?

Our main goal is to make a mark on the Atlanta Tour De Cure by having a large presence and raising a lot of money for a great cause. Diabetes affects African American families and specifically AA women at disproportionately high rates so for many of us this is personal.

Black Girls Do Bike

We chose Atlanta as the spot for our first national meetup as our chapter there is our largest with more than 1200 supporters. The weekend will consist of three days of bike related events. REI CoOp has pitched in to help with the needs of our ladies who are traveling in from out of town and will need their bikes assembled.

Civil Bikes has offered our members discounted rates on bike related historic tours around the city. The weekend will end with a celebration in the form of a relaxed recovery ride along the Atlanta Beltline. We will end up at Piedmont Park with a luncheon and festivities to be held at the beautiful Magnolia Hall. We have more than 15 sponsors so our giveaways at this event will be epic.

Black Girls Do Bike

Some of the main reasons people cite that they don’t bike is that they perceive it as an unsafe or inaccessible activity — dangerous public streets, not enough protected bicycle infrastructure, access to trails and bike paths is far and too infrequent. Are there other obstacles – perceived or real – that you think are specific to encourage more women of color to get on a bike?

I believe there are many points of overlap in terms of why people shy away from riding bikes. Many women of color are overweight or obese and those with negative body image issues are less likely to try a new form of exercise with people they don’t know or trust. Our offer to include riders of all levels in our groups rides, which are “no women left behind”, can help those who might not want to tackle new and unfamiliar activity on their own. A friendly Shero who is willing to accompany a new rider to the local bike shop and help her navigate decisions of what type of bike and accessories to purchase can be invaluable. Surprising many women did not learn to ride in childhood so they are even more apprehensive to start as an adult.

Black Girls Do Bike

What’s next for Black Girls Do Bike after the National Meetup? What other initiatives, events, and partnerships are you looking forward to?

We are also working on a process to have all of our leadership formerly become certified ride leaders by developing our own course or taking advantage of an education program already in place. We have been contacted by some big names in the cycling community who want to help us further the reach and mission of BGDB. So we plan to pursue those leads and form some strategic partnerships.

Black Girls Do Bike

I like the idea of having BGDB ladies from all over the country converge on different cycling events to increase our visibility. Events like NYC’s 5 Boro Bike Tour, Alabama’s Bo Bikes Bama, Maryland’s Seagull Century the Tour de Cure series and many more. If our national meet up this June does what it seeks to accomplish, we may make this a biennial event.

April Rider Profile: Darcy From Fayetteville

April 7th, 2016

Through insightful Facebook comments, glittering Instagram snapshots and daily social media chatter, our PUBLIC community never ceases to inspire. So we thought we’d start a monthly series highlighting an image shared on social media by a PUBLIC rider that caught our eye, and learning a little more about the rider behind the shot. This month it’s Darcy… Read more »

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public rider profile
Through insightful Facebook comments, glittering Instagram snapshots and daily social media chatter, our PUBLIC community never ceases to inspire. So we thought we’d start a monthly series highlighting an image shared on social media by a PUBLIC rider that caught our eye, and learning a little more about the rider behind the shot.

This month it’s Darcy from Fayetteville, AR. She took the photo above of her Slate Blue PUBLIC V7 and we can’t think of a better way to sum up Spring.

Darcy writes about her hometown of Fayetteville…

“Fayetteville is home to a city bike trail called the Razorback Regional Greenway. It’s a 36 mile, mostly off road, paved trail that stretches from South Fayetteville up to Bella Vista. It connects riders to many city attractions and hot spots all over NWA. I love to take my PUBLIC V7 out on the trails on Sunday afternoon—riding and stopping along the way for a coffee or even some shopping. It’s definitely a favorite way to spend an afternoon.”

And she describes the inspiration behind the photo…

“On the day I took this photo it was finally starting to get warm and I was excited to take my camera out for some photos of some fresh blooms I had been seeing around town. I am a blogger (Helloluvvy.com) and taking my bike out to explore and take photos is something I do regularly. This tree, not far from my home, was absolutely amazing. I took lots of pictures of it for the blog and since I think my PUBLIC V7 is also amazing I added it in the photo.”

Thanks for sharing your story, Darcy. We look forward to highlighting next month’s inspiring rider!

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.

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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.

Repurposing Public Space

August 24th, 2015

Public streets account for as much as a third of land in a city.  They have often been viewed as more of a domain for cars rather than people, sadly. But progressive cities around the world are repurposing these spaces into places for people, conversation, food and play. Some examples that we’ve written about before are New York… Read more »

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PROXY / Photo by envelope A+D

Before PROXY, 2006 / Photo By Matt Baume

Public streets account for as much as a third of land in a city.  They have often been viewed as more of a domain for cars rather than people, sadly. But progressive cities around the world are repurposing these spaces into places for people, conversation, food and play. Some examples that we’ve written about before are New York City’s inspiring High Line  and Times Square Plazas (that we hope stay that way).

Another example located just near our PUBLIC Hayes Valley Shop is PROXY, an urban pop-up space that combines retail, food, art installations and outdoor events, in a plot of land that till PROXY was a parking lot and 20 years prior engulfed under the shadow of the Central Freeway.

We interview Douglas Burnham, founder of envelope A+D the design group that envisioned PROXY to learn more about how public spaces can be transformed into a dynamic places for interaction.

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PROXY / Photo by envelope A+D

PUBLIC: The importance of reclaiming public space as walkable, livable and community-based are some of the founding principles of PUBLIC. Your team takes a similar approach with your projects—using architecture to create an immersive environment that transforms people’s experience with a space. Our flagship store in Hayes Valley is nearby one such of your projects, PROXY. Please talk to us about the PROXY project.

DOUGLAS: PROXY is a temporary two-block project located on lots that were left vacant after the removal of the 101 Central Freeway. In 2010, we responded to a request from the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development (OEWD) for interim uses on the Octavia Boulevard vacant lots. However, as we kept getting enthusiastic green lights from the city and the neighborhood, we quickly realized that we would need to figure out a way to make PROXY a financially viable project before we got carried away with soaring plans removed from reality.

People often don’t realize that while the space is publicly accessible, the project is privately funded and managed by our office. We act as the developer, fundraiser and steward of the two lots. We’ve spent the last several years taking enormous risks and grinding away to resolve issues that are inherent to experimenting live in the city without a safety net. It’s been an incredibly challenging and rewarding experience for the entire office.

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PROXY / Rendering by envelope A+D

In proposing the project, our goal was to create a concentrated, constantly changing experience of both culture and commerce in a zone that was previously invisible—a perceptual void—in peoples’ experiences. PROXY was conceived as a placeholder for a more permanent development—these lots will eventually be built with both market rate and below market rate housing. Our lease on the larger lot runs through 2020 and we are in the process of extending the lease end date through 2020 on the smaller Biergarten site as well.

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PROXY / Photo by Anne Hamersky

PROXY has established an emerging model of urban planning that demonstrates how recasting seemingly insignificant, underused urban spaces using temporary interventions can quickly and effectively transform portions of the city into thriving centers of ingenuity and fun. Though Hayes Valley was in the midst of a renaissance that had begun in the early 1990s with the neighbor-led push to remove the freeway, PROXY has helped to reinvigorate the neighborhood after the long economic downturn that lingered after the 2008 Stock Market crash.

Everything we do at PROXY is guided by our motto “HERE FOR NOW”. The world is always changing, so a healthy city needs to be able to adapt quickly and smartly to the circumstances at hand. The motto speaks to our goals for inhabiting the city as residents and is a call to action. By creating a vibrant mix of culture and commerce, we hope to encourage engagement with the city and the present moment in a heightened way.

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PROXY / Photo by envelope A+D

On the commerce side, one important aspect of PROXY is its role as an incubator of micro-enterprise. Aether, Smitten, Biergarten, Basic Training, and SOSF all had their first physical brick-and-mortar (or steel-and-glass) spaces here and have really grown their businesses out of their initial presence at PROXY. Ritual and JuiceShop have also benefitted from the pedestrian-friendly open-air experience that PROXY has created. The vendors at PROXY have come to be our cohorts in an urban experiment of temporary activation. They have taken risks alongside us in making a go of it in small spaces on a limited timeline.

On the culture side, we have had many different art installations at PROXY, from the now-concealed “BRIGHTERFASTER” mural by Ben Eine, to installations by the Museum of Craft and Design and the Hayes Valley Arts Coalition. Our next foray into cultural production at PROXY is the realization of an outdoor movie and live music venue in the asphalt plaza area at the heart of PROXY. We ran a Kickstarter campaign this summer to raise enough money to complete the movie screen and purchase an outdoor-rated digital projector and sound system. We didn’t end up making our goal—and therefore didn’t get the pledges—but the campaign generated a significant amount of interest in the project and we were able to harvest enough donations to complete the screen (which is underway right now).

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PROXY / Photo by envelope A+D

Ever the optimists, we are planning to do a scrappier version of a Fall Film Festival on the first four Fridays in October. The PROXY walk-in movie theater will be a place where everyone will be able to share in the experience of watching a movie with their neighbors in the open air. We’re still looking for donations — all of which our tax deductible through our 501c3 nonprofit HERE FOR NOW. (Go to HEREFORNOWsf.org to support our efforts to bring free outdoor movies to San Francisco!)

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Superkilen / Photo by Superflex

PUBLIC: What are some of your favorite, inspiring examples of reinterpreted public spaces? (Like the High Line in NYC, for example.)

DOUGLAS:  The High Line, of course, is the premiere example that everyone knows about. Yet, on my recent vacation I was lucky to be able to visit Superkilen—a new linear park in Copenhagen (being made famous enough from the iPhone photo of the glorious ribbons of white lines on asphalt that cover a portion of the park). Superkilen is really great because it operates right at street level and has amenities that are for the people that live right there — places to play chess, informally gather, play, skate, skateboard, swing and box (yes, there’s a boxing ring!). The design is more “pop” than the High Line and appropriately so as it serves the local residents in their daily lives in an economically diverse section of Copenhagen. There is a high degree of joyful invention that encourages play, social interaction, as well as safe passage through the park.

This kind of community-serving linear park is what we’re hoping to do with our transformation of the waterfront edge at the Hunters Point Shoreline. In NOW_Hunters Point we are transforming the site of a former PG&E power plant using strategies similar to those of PROXY. There, the process of engaging the neighborhood is more robust. Our team is actively prototyping possible interim uses that are tested though events. Working with Studio O, RHAA and John Greenlee & Associates, we are creating a string of several gathering zones for learning, playing and contemplation of the natural beauty on the Bay’s edge. This enhanced public access amenity is part of the transformation of the former power plant site and is taking a narrow existing access zone, widening it to roughly one-hundred feet, and threading a wider Blue-Greenway standard combined bicycle and pedestrian path through an enhanced landscape of grasses, flowers, trees and coastal shrubs. The layered history of inhabitation of the site, including the history of the power plant and its removal initiated through direct action of the Hunters Point residents, will be legible through didactic elements distributed along the path. The goal of the project is to support access to the Hunters Point Shoreline by the residents of Hunters Point as well as being a part of a system of regional open space that encourages the experience of the Bay and celebrates the specific history of the site.

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High Line / Photo by David Berkowitz

PUBLIC: How can the average person help to support projects that work to make public spaces more livable?

DOUGLAS:  Our wider goal for PROXY and for future project is to truly empower people to take a piece of the city, to become a steward of that place and to change it through direct action. Sure, it helps that we are architects doing this work, but we are also inventing so many things beyond our training and standard roles as architects. Because of this, I know that it really just takes passion combined with a vision of how something—your street, a neighborhood park, a vacant lot, a whole sector of the city—can be not just better, but can be something great. Mostly, it just takes knowing that you can make a difference and a certain amount of tenacity.

The guys that came up with the idea for the High Line were just people who cared about something that they saw as a treasure (and that other people, city officials included, saw as a blight to be erased). They applied the skills that they had, in both persuasion and finance, to rally their neighborhood behind their vision for a raised linear park 40 feet above the street. Their action, their risk, their initiative has literally transformed that sector of New York City into a thriving hub for both residents and tourists. Who would have thought?

We are inspired by citizens who act upon the cities where they live and we hope that our work also inspires people to take their own actions to contribute to the health and vibrancy of the city.