A Beginner’s Guide: Top 5 Bike-Friendly Travel Destinations

August 2nd, 2016

International bike travel sounds intimidating, doesn’t it? It’s hard enough to get your passport renewed and pack everything for a regular trip abroad. Add to that the hassle of packing a bicycle and navigating a city you don’t know (where you don’t speak the language)… it’s enough to make a beginner cancel their flight. But let’s say… Read more »

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international bike travel Shimanami_Kaido_Bikeway_Japan

Shimanami Kaito Bikeway. Image by redlegsfan21 via wikimedia.

International bike travel sounds intimidating, doesn’t it? It’s hard enough to get your passport renewed and pack everything for a regular trip abroad. Add to that the hassle of packing a bicycle and navigating a city you don’t know (where you don’t speak the language)… it’s enough to make a beginner cancel their flight.

But let’s say the idea still calls to you. You’re enticed by the notion of landscapes with rolling hills and foaming waters, dotted with ruins and small villages and new ways of life. You imagine sailing with the wind in your face and no windshield to obstruct your view, communing directly with the world! In that case, we’ve got some bike-friendly spots abroad in mind just for you.

We’ve rounded up our top five bike-friendly destinations for international bike travel. These places are great for those contemplating their first bike tour abroad or want to attempt international bike travel with their kids. The following locales are laid-back enough that you’ll be able to explore on two wheels and unwind on your vacation.


Danube Bike Path in Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary

international bike travel

Camp site at Passau, Germany. Image by Chris Bainbridge via wikimedia.

Perfect for families, this pleasantly paved biking trail snakes through Germany and Austria and lands in Budapest, Hungary. The well-trodden route is part of EuroVelo6, the famous French cycling route. It follows the Danube River from its source all the way to the Black Sea, but there’s no need to take the entire route. Tackle the stretch that seems appropriate for you and your cycling pack. You might choose just the secluded German section or the popular Austrian trail. In Austria, cyclists soak in the urban sophistication of Vienna and pedal alongside clear water. Then, between observing green valleys in the countryside, they snack on Austria’s delectable dumplings and sample wines in taverns.


The Shimanami Kaido in Japan

international bike travel

Shimanami Kaido bike route in Japan. Images via wikimedia here and here.

Clocking in at only 40 miles, this serene trail is set off from the main road and connects Hiroshima’s islands, giving riders vistas onto the Seto Inland Sea. Some travelers complete the trip in a day, but it also accommodates tranquil wandering with campsites and hotels. There are 14 bike rental shops, which means you can skip the cumbersome bike luggage and rent your two wheels.


Otago Peninsula in New Zealand

international bike travel

The Otago Peninsula. Image via wikimedia

Start from the Victorian and Edwardian college town of Dunedin and venture into the countryside. The second half of this trail is grueling—so you can skip it! Just stick with the easygoing first half. The trail swirls around the coastline, and you can stop at the acute right turn that signals the start of the steep hill. Go during the drier months, from September to May.


Friuli-Venezia Giulia in Italy

international bike travel

Image via wikimedia.

Smooth pedaling alongside vineyards and benign hills make this Italian route a family pleaser. In northeast Italy, you can rest in piazzas and drink its famed varietals of white wine. The last leg rewards your hard work with a view of the Istrian coast.


Galway City to Spiddal in Ireland

international bike travel

Lovely route in Galway. Image by C O’Flanagan.

A total of 25 miles—from the harbor city of Galway to the charming village of Spiddal—this trek presents one big climb in the beginning. After this, writes local cyclist Pat O’Donnell, “it’s plain sailing.” If you’re blessed with a clear day, you’ll see the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands. In Spiddal village, take a breather with a snack in the crafts center, and then turn back to Galway.

Bike Camping 101

July 5th, 2016

You love biking, and you love camping. But you’ve always been afraid to combine the two and actually go bike camping because it sounds so daunting: a heavy load on a long ride, gathering that gear list, and making sure that you definitely have all your supplies (so you don’t end up exclusively noshing on energy… Read more »

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bike camping 101
You love biking, and you love camping. But you’ve always been afraid to combine the two and actually go bike camping because it sounds so daunting: a heavy load on a long ride, gathering that gear list, and making sure that you definitely have all your supplies (so you don’t end up exclusively noshing on energy bars since the propane burner never made it into your pack).

Fear not. Bike camping is a lot simpler than it sounds because there are a variety of different levels of bike camping. There’s absolutely no need to jump right into multi-day bike camping, freeze dried food and purifying your own water. You can start out very simply, without a tent even (see credit-card bike touring, below). And once you’re ready to pitch a tent, you’ll just need to gather the lightest version of your camping supplies, get a rack for your bike, sturdy bike panniers and bike bungees to secure all supplies. Oh, and find just the right camping spot, of course!

bike camping 101

First step, even before assembling a packing list, is to decide what type of bike camping you’re after. Here’s a nice round-up of different types of bike camping/touring options from REI and some pros and cons to each:

  • Credit-card bike touring: Carry only your basic gear. Then, pay for things like hotels and meals along the way (hence, “credit card”). This method makes for a light ride and less stress about whether you remembered everything. Think of it as “glamping”: You tour in the luxury of warm showers. But you’ll pay more for a hotel than a campground on the dirt, and more for restaurant meals than a packed PB&J.
  • Self-supported bike camping: Pack and pedal everything yourself. Store all of your camping supplies and meals in panniers attached to your bike rack or a bike trailer behind you. This method is affordable and gives you the breezy feeling of self-reliance. But it also means you carry everything on your own muscle power.
  • Car bike camping: Have a friend bring up the rear with a van full of your camping gear! You can be free of your heavier supplies, and if you get caught in a downpour, you’ll have instant shelter. The challenges include: finding a friend who would agree to experience the views from a car instead of a bike, and not being able to offroad it with your bikes—or the car would be left behind.
  • Organized bike camping: In a paid bike camping tour, all the headaches are someone else’s problem. You get to meet new people, and in some cases, you don’t have to carry the camping supplies yourself. The accommodation and navigation are all taken care of. The downside? These tours can be expensive, and you don’t get to choose your own adventure.
bike camping

Once you’ve decided on your trip style, packing becomes simpler. If you choose to do a self-supported bike camping, you’d need the maximum gear. Here’s everything you’d need to make it happen from Bike Overnights and REI:

  • Sleeping bag
  • Camp pad
  • Pillow
  • Tent
  • Food
  • Toiletries
  • Map
  • Flashlight
  • Pocketknife
  • Matches
  • Raingear
  • Towel
  • Two pairs of biking clothes
  • Two pairs of non-sweaty clothes
  • Patch kit
  • Pump (like this one or this one)
  • Cycling multi-tools (like this one)
  • Sturdy Bike Rack (like this one or this one)
  • Bicycle Pannier Bag (like this pair)

That’s it! And even those items are optional: Not everyone would feel the need to bring a towel or multiple pairs of clothes, especially if you aren’t overnighting over numerous days. Some rugged adventurers can do without a camp pad or air mattress. And others might happily sleep in a camp hammock instead of a tent.

bike camping

Once you’ve narrowed down your checklist, pack all of your supplies in panniers, baskets, and/or a bike trailer. For some wild inspiration, check out these DIY bike trailers. You can also buy one that’s readymade. If you’d rather skip the expense of a trailer, just strap your tent to your rear rack. Organize your items into panniers by category, such as sleeping and cooking (and use other packing advice from this seasoned Canadian traveler).

Then, you’re ready to bike the world!

Bike to Work in Style, Commute Like a European

May 19th, 2016

In the United States, we tend to be hard on ourselves about our rate of biking to work compared to Europe. However, we have reason to celebrate during this Bike to Work month. In America, the ranks of cycling commuters are only growing: our numbers rose about 60 percent throughout the aughts, from 488,000 bike… Read more »

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In the United States, we tend to be hard on ourselves about our rate of biking to work compared to Europe. However, we have reason to celebrate during this Bike to Work month. In America, the ranks of cycling commuters are only growing: our numbers rose about 60 percent throughout the aughts, from 488,000 bike commuters in the year 2000 to roughly 786,000 in 2008–2012, according to the US Census. More recently, biking to work has continued to trend upwards from 2006 to 2013 among workers of all income brackets.

bike to work bicycle commute

Although our patterns of bike commuting are looking rosy, we in the United States still have plenty to learn from Europe so that everyday people cycle as a matter of habit across the nation. Here’s how pedaling commuters get to work in style in the two cities with some of the highest rates of bicycling.

bike to work bicycle commute

Image via Wikimedia Commons

COPENHAGEN, Denmark

In Copenhagen, almost half of the population cycles to their school or office. We can glean some infrastructure lessons—as well as style tips—from Denmark’s bike to work culture.

bike to work bicycle commute

Image by Tony Webster via flickr

Infrastructure ingenuity

  • Only one percent of Copenhageners mention the environment as the reason they ride. Most of them do it because it’s the easiest way to scoot around town. Strong cycling infrastructure makes the choice obvious.
  • Traffic lights are coordinated for bicycles, not cars.
  • When it snows, bike lanes have priority for cleaning before roads. No wonder the majority of commuters still cycle through Copenhagen’s white winters.
  • City planners made bike lanes the most direct routes to the city center, according to the Guardian.
  • Footrests and railings allow riders to stop at a light without hopping off their seats. (Seattle recently added these—go Seattle!)
bike to work bicycle commute

Image by Bimbimbikes via Flickr

Cycling style

  • Copenhageners prefer bike baskets, storing their work supplies in a way that keeps the burden off their backs.
  • Personalizing the baskets with flowers and stickers gives cyclists a personal connection with their ride.
  • The baskets can be easily taken off the front handlebars, allowing for shopping and moving around.
  • Comfy saddles are standard. Brooks leather saddles can be seen around Copenhagen.
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By Jorge Royan via Wikimedia Commons

AMSTERDAM, the Netherlands

About 63 percent of Amsterdammers bike every day. Cycling to work is in their DNA. Here’s how it happened.

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Image by Apoikola via Wikimedia Commons

Infrastructure ingenuity

  • Dutch bike lanes are wide enough to allow for side-by-side biking, according to the BBC, allowing you to chat with your “bikepool” buddy.
  • Many cycling routes are offset from cars and the rest of the road, making commuters feel safe.
  • Bicyclists are treated as the first-class citizens they deserve to be. You’ll find signs that read: “Bike Street: Cars are guests.”
bike to work bicycle commute

Image by TCP via flickr.

Cycling style

  • Dutch children start biking as babies in cargo bikes, called bakfiets in Dutch.
  • Bikers don’t consider cycling a lifestyle choice. Rather, it’s a default mode. As such, their bikes aren’t consumer accessories to show off a subculture, but workaday vehicles, according to the BBC. In such a culture, cycling might seem more accessible to the rich and poor alike.
  • Sliding wheel locks allow for cyclists to quickly secure their bike and hop into the coffee shop on their ride to work.
  • Popular dynamo headlights are powered by pedaling—so you don’t have to remember to recharge them or replace the batteries.
  • Commuters bike to work in skirts and heels like it ain’t no thang, thanks to the predominance of Dutch-style step-through bikes. Seeing others do it all the time makes it seem natural… so why not start the trend in your city?

Increasing the number of bike commuters in the United States will have to be a joint effort between policymakers and the people on the streets. Start today to create the cycling culture you’d like to live in: Write a letter to your local representative to prioritize bike infrastructure. Then, slip on your high heeled shoes, put your laptop in your bike basket, and cycle to work with a smile. You might inspire someone else to do the same.

How to Bike with Kids on Mother’s Day—and Beyond

April 30th, 2016

On Mother’s Day, there are countless reasons our moms deserve handwritten cards and brunch. For some of us, those reasons include our fond memories of learning to ride a bike. Our mothers patiently guided us as we graduated from child bike seat to balance bike to kid bike with pedals. Just by watching Mom pedal around town… Read more »

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how to bike with kids child bicycle

On Mother’s Day, there are countless reasons our moms deserve handwritten cards and brunch. For some of us, those reasons include our fond memories of learning to ride a bike. Our mothers patiently guided us as we graduated from child bike seat to balance bike to kid bike with pedals. Just by watching Mom pedal around town herself, some of us learned to value biking for its exercise, convenience and fun factor.

For all those new mothers hoping to shape their children into cyclists, we salute you. Our figurative flowers for you include tips for teaching your kids the rituals of biking. Aside from the obvious habits that apply to all ages—wear a helmet, use hand signals, bike on the right side of the road—these pointers are kid specific.

With this advice, you’ll help your child safely grow from a bike-seat sidekick to a velodrome champion—well, if that’s what they want to be when they grow up. You can also read riding tips we collected from some of our favorite bike-riding Moms.

how to bike with kids child bicycle

The bike seat years: One-year-old to toddler

  • Before you start adventuring around town with your baby in a bike seat, your child should be one year old. They should be able to hold up their own head with a helmet on and not slump over in the bike seat, according to bikeportland.org.
    Choose a comfortable child seat with a sturdy harness. Once the child is old enough to unbuckle things, make sure they know not to escape from their harness mid-ride!
  • Start small and bike on quiet streets for short rides so that both you and your baby get comfortable.
how to bike with kids child bicycle
  • In addition to putting a helmet on your baby, always wear your own helmet to role model safe biking behavior!
  • This tip comes from the blog of PUBLIC C7 rider Joanna Goddard (past interview here): “If you have one young child, I would definitely recommend a front seat. You feel close and connected, since you can easily chat and point at things and see what they’re looking at. Plus, I find that having that extra weight in the front versus the back of the bike is easier for balancing.”
how to bike with kids child bicycle

The balance bike to training wheels years: Three- to seven-years-old or older

  • Consider a balance bike or push bike. A balance bike has no pedals and helps children focus on first learning to balance on two wheels. Once they have mastered the art of balancing they might be able to skip a pedal kids bike with training wheels all together.
  • After a balance bike, if possible, try to encourage your child to try a pedal kids bike without training wheels. By learning to ride without training wheels, your child will learn balance speed. Keep the seat low so your child can put both feet on the ground. Sometimes it’s easier to start on a gentle slope to get the pedal kids bike moving for balancing and then your child can start pedaling.
  • If your child does not have a lot of riding confidence, a pedal kids bike with training wheels is an option. Training wheels don’t help a child learn the importance of balance speed but they can help a less confident rider get going. All of PUBLIC’s smaller 16″ wheel size pedal kids bikes come with optional training wheels. It might sound contrary, but positioning the training wheels a little higher off the ground than you think will actually create more stability for the child when rolling, says PUBLIC product manager, Aaron Glick.
how to bike with kids child bicycle
  • Even though your child is low to the ground, buy your little biker a normal bicycle helmet, labeled with a certification by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • Only let your child explore quiet, safe places—away from dangers such as cars and swimming pools.
how to bike with kids child bicycle

The bicycle years: Seven-years-old and beyond

  • Allow your children to graduate from a training wheels only once they’ve gained the necessary sense of balance, usually around five to seven years old.
  • Kids at 10-years-old and younger are safer riding on the sidewalk than on the street, according to Safe Kids.
  • Teach your young cyclist to make eye contact with drivers before crossing an intersection. They should make sure that the driver sees them and is going to stop.
  • Try a bike-to-school route! One adult could potentially lead the way, picking up children along the path to school to join the caravan.
  • Ditch the tandem bike. Children should be able to match your pedalling power before they tandem bike, which might take until they reach age 12, according to Outside Online.
  • For long journeys, consider a trailercycle, advises cyclist Charles Scott. You can store your supplies as well as resting children in your trailer. Once they’re ready, kids can get back on the bike and feel like part of the team.

Once your kids start pedaling, they might know their way around their neighborhood better than those kids who are only driven around in cars, at least one study has shown. The study also indicated that cycling kids have a richer connection with their community; they remember more spaces where they like to play than exclusively car-driven kids.

how to bike with kids child bicycle

In that case, what better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than pedaling around your neighborhood together? You’ll give yourself the gift of fun and exercise—and your children the gift of a more memorable childhood.

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Photography credit goes to the talents of Jetkat Photography. Model credit goes to the beautiful family of Copy Cat Chic. And big thanks to Rebecca Huval for making this post possible.

The Cars Are Jealous Of This Colorful Bike Corral Mural

April 13th, 2016

We’re all about making the world a more sustainable and healthier place through thoughtful urban design and sustainable transportation. So we got a special kick out of a recent public project in San Francisco that transformed a single car parking spot on the corner of Fell and Divisadero into a bike parking corral for 12 bikes… Read more »

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We’re all about making the world a more sustainable and healthier place through thoughtful urban design and sustainable transportation. So we got a special kick out of a recent public project in San Francisco that transformed a single car parking spot on the corner of Fell and Divisadero into a bike parking corral for 12 bikes with a vibrant, colorful street mural underfoot.

bike corral mural

Eric Tuvel in the bike corral.

We caught up with the mastermind behind this bike corral mural, Eric Tuvel (pictured above). Read on for more about Eric, how this project came about, and how you can implement a bike corral mural in your city.

PUBLIC: You’re both a visual designer and a bicycle advocate? Tell us more about your background.
Eric: My background in Graphic Design started in undergrad, which is where I started commuting by bike to class and to get around campus. As I pursued my master’s degree in City & Regional Planning, I began applying my design background to cities and commuting by bike became more about shaping how people move around the city. Before joining the SFMTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency) as a Transportation Planner in the Sustainable Streets division, I was the Design and Program Manager at the SF Bicycle Coalition. It was there I got more involved in advocacy and the biking community of San Francisco and fused my design/planning background with my love for biking.

PUBLIC: What was the inspiration behind this bike corral mural concept?
Eric: In my first position at the SFMTA I managed the bicycle parking program. As I started siting and surveying for sidewalk racks and on-street corrals, I started to see the various ways people tried to bring art into these bike parking facilities. Talking with my coworker one day, the idea just hit us and we thought, “What about painting a mural underneath the corral on the street?” It was really serendipitous.
Once the idea was planted in my head, I was determined.
I started running it by staff at various city agencies to get the approvals I needed. As for the mural that was installed, it was done by Bay Area artist Kristin Farr. She selected colors from the streetscape at the location to come up with the palette for the piece. She was selected by the sponsor, Madrone Art Bar, and was great to work with on the project. The piece is titled “Diamonds on Divis”.

PUBLIC: What were the major challenges to getting this bike corral mural implemented?
Eric: The major challenge was creating a process for something that hasn’t been done before. The main thing I did was talk to as many people as I could and loop in all the city departments and stakeholders I could think of. It’s a really positive project so overall everyone was supportive but there were some small concerns we were able to work through and got everyone on board. The other unforeseen challenge was the weather! Scheduling a time to paint was a little tricky with the recent fits and starts of rain we’ve had.

bike corral mural

Image courtesy of SFMTA.

PUBLIC: How is this project funded?
Eric: “Diamonds on Divis” was funded privately by the Madrone Art Bar. They applied for a corral in 2015 and we approved the location. When I came up with the idea, I thought Madrone was the perfect partner for the first one as the corral wasn’t installed yet and Madone is an art bar. I brought the idea to Michael Krouse, the owner, and he was on board right away. I feel lucky that we had a partner that was so easy to work with and was supportive from the beginning.

PUBLIC: If you’re an art and bicycle enthusiast outside of San Francisco, what should this person do to replicate a bike corral mural in another city?
Eric: First, learn more about what the city process is for something like this. Start with the department that installs bike parking in the city. The process might not be clear, but be persistent and keep talking to folks. Don’t be discouraged by how long it might take because the results are worth the work.

bike corral mural

PUBLIC: What’s next to expand this concept to other parts of San Francisco?
Eric: The next steps would be to evaluate the current bike corral mural, or “bikelet” as I’ve been calling it, over the next few months, primarily to see how it holds up to the elements. We are definitely interested in expanding the program and partnering with other organizations. We encourage interested organizations to contact us and we will be looking into proactively outreaching to businesses that are applying for or already have bicycle corrals. If people are interested they can contact Bikeparking@sfmta.com.

Celebrating The Green Bike Lane

March 15th, 2016

Written By Rebecca Huval On the upcoming holiday celebrating all things Irish and green, we should also pause to celebrate the green bike lane. These ribbons of color do more than brighten up an otherwise dull road—they give cyclists a sense of safety, create clarity for drivers, and announce to everyone on the road that… Read more »

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Written By Rebecca Huval

celebrating green bike lanes

Green on green in Vancouver, Canada.

On the upcoming holiday celebrating all things Irish and green, we should also pause to celebrate the green bike lane. These ribbons of color do more than brighten up an otherwise dull road—they give cyclists a sense of safety, create clarity for drivers, and announce to everyone on the road that bikes belong there. We’ve written about various colors in public spaces, including green bike lanes, in our past blog post “Rolling out the Green Carpet in San Francisco.”

Celebrating the green bike lane

Green bike lanes in Portland, Oregon. Image By Steve Morgan

In the past decade or so, these highly visible routes have rolled out in the United States, from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles. Portland was a leader in the early days, implementing green lanes at a time when there were no clear federal guidelines on bike lane colors. Then, in 2011, the US Department of Transportation officially approved green to mark bike lanes. It was chosen because of its visibility.

Celebrating the green bike lane

Green bike lanes in Santa Monica, California.

That, and because all the others were taken—blue for handicapped spots, even purple for specific toll plaza approach lanes. Now, as one California city’s website explains, “Bright green painted bike lanes are sweeping the nation, and Santa Monica is no exception.”

Celebrating Green Bike lanes

Blue bike lanes in Denmark. Image via Wikimedia.

We in the United States aren’t the first to paint our bike lanes, but we have claimed green as our own. Starting in the early 1980s, Copenhagen painted blue strips to mark the safe zone for cyclists to cross an intersection. On the other side of the spectrum, bike lanes are often red in Amsterdam and even in that country we celebrate with green: Ireland. But a few other countries, including France and Spain, share our green streak.

celebrating green bike lanes

Green bike lanes and rainbow crosswalks in Seattle, WA.

So on St. Patrick’s Day, let’s celebrate Ireland, the color green—and the growth of visible bike lanes across the United States and internationally.

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.

Reinventing The Underpass

January 12th, 2016

What comes to mind when we write “freeway underpass?” It’s likely that whatever you pictured didn’t involve thoughtfully composed landscaping, actively used pathways or cool art installations. This article by Alissa Walker explores how cities across the country are reinventing the underpass, perhaps one of the most neglected of city spaces. Reinventing public space into… Read more »

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reinventing the underpass in Toronto

Underpass Park in Toronto, Canada

What comes to mind when we write “freeway underpass?” It’s likely that whatever you pictured didn’t involve thoughtfully composed landscaping, actively used pathways or cool art installations. This article by Alissa Walker explores how cities across the country are reinventing the underpass, perhaps one of the most neglected of city spaces.

reinventing the underpass in Miami

Rendering of The Underline in Miami, Florida

Reinventing public space into something that’s actually usable for the public is near to our hearts. Examples we’ve written about before are projects like PROXY in San Francisco and the High Line in New York City, two urban areas that were reinvented from parking lots and derelict elevated railway lines, respectively, as spaces for people to hang-out, play and enjoy.

Inspired by Alissa’s article, we set out to find a few more examples of reclaimed underpass space in cities near PUBLIC Stores. If you’ve been to an underpass park or live near one, drop us a line with a photo and we’ll add your city to this list!

1. Burnside Skatepark in Portland, Oregon
reinventing the underpass in Portland
Once a renegade spot for illegal skateboarding, Burnside Skatepark was getting so much use it eventually won favor from the community and became city approved.

2. I-5 Colonnade Mountain Bike Park in Seattle, Washington
reinventing the underpass in Seattle
Cool story. The I-5 Colonnade Mountain Bike Park in Seattle was built by a team of volunteers and includes over 2 acres of bike track and walking paths. It’s part of a larger 7.5 acre park.

3. SoMa West Skate and Dog Park in San Francisco, California.
reinventing the underpass in San Francisco
The SoMa West Skate and Dog Park in San Francisco includes a sanctioned space for skaters to shred and a little artificial turn for letting city dogs run around.

4. Proposed Wildlife Overpass in Los Angeles, California.
reinventing the underpass in Los Angeles

Ok, so not an underpass, but worth mentioning. This proposed 165-foot-wide, 200-foot-long overpass would allow large carnivores like wildcats and bobcats a means of getting from one set of mountains to the other without ending up as roadkill.

SUBMITTED BY OUR READERS
Christine writes: “San Jose just finished a public art project under two underpasses in downtown.”

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Art display under Highway 87 in San Jose, Photo by San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs.

SM writes: “New Orleans has a skate park called Parasite built under the freeway. It was built by Tulane City Center, a LLC ran by Tulane Faculty, Tulane School of Architecture Students and community member/organizations.”

The Bicycle For The 2016 Nobel Prize

December 27th, 2015

“The bicycle is an instrument of peace. It’s the most democratic means of transportation for all mankind.” – Massimo Cirrus & Sara Zambotti We love the bike for the simple pleasure it brings to us –– the smile it puts on our faces and the way it helps us connect with our local communities. When… Read more »

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“The bicycle is an instrument of peace. It’s the most democratic means of transportation for all mankind.”
– Massimo Cirrus & Sara Zambotti

We love the bike for the simple pleasure it brings to us –– the smile it puts on our faces and the way it helps us connect with our local communities.

When reflecting on the true nature of the holidays and the crazy, often violent world we live in, two Italian radio hosts are encouraging us to reflect on the bike’s role in history and its humanitarian benefits.

The hosts, Massimo Cirrus and Sara Zambotti of the Rai Radio 2 network in Italy, are nominating the bicycle for the Nobel Peace Prize. “The bicycle is an instrument of peace,” they write on their blog. “It’s the most democratic means of transportation for all mankind; it does not cause wars and pollution; and it decreases car accidents.”

While the Nobel Peace Prize is generally given to individuals or organizations, think about the bike as a messenger of peace the next time you take a spin. The bicycle helps reduce our dependency on oil, it supports healthier lifestyles, and makes our cities more livable.

The bicycle was viewed as wheels of change – a liberating vehicle by early feminist leaders. Susan B. Anthony wrote: “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”

And the bicycle, as World Bicycle Relief admirably states, “helps people prosper” by closing the distance to schools, jobs, and sources of water and food. Watch the video below.

While we sometimes take for granted the bicycle as a democratic instrument of peace and empowerment, we also love that almost anyone can ride a bicycle – rich and poor, young and old, and yes, even Nobel Peace Prize winners. We rounded up a few examples below.

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR, 1964 Nobel Peace Prize Winner

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Martin Luther King Jr riding a bike.

DESMOND TUTU, 1984 Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Desmond Tutu riding to fight TB.

JIMMY CARTER, 2002 Nobel Peace Prize Winner

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Jimmy Carter riding a bicycle.

BARACK OBAMA, 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Winner

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Barack Obama riding a bicycle.

Kudos to Bike Laborers

September 2nd, 2015

Labor Day is our nation’s tribute to the contributions of workers around the country. So we wanted to take a moment and salute those who labor by bike. Be it bike messangers who haul packages and mail, pedicab drivers who steer people from point a to be or those incredible bike couriers who are able… Read more »

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Happy couriers. Images via Pedal Express and missionmission.org.

Labor Day is our nation’s tribute to the contributions of workers around the country. So we wanted to take a moment and salute those who labor by bike. Be it bike messangers who haul packages and mail, pedicab drivers who steer people from point a to be or those incredible bike couriers who are able to get our pizza to us (still hot) and fresh flowers delivered on time to a special someone. We applaud this awesome pedal power and offer our high fives in the form of photos here.

Pizza Delivery

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Image by Pedal Express

Pedicab Driver

Image via flickr

Flower Delivery

Bike Contractor

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Image from Builder By Bike

Mail Messenger

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Image via flickr

Anything Delivery

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Image by Spencer A Brown