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Archive for the ‘Sustainable Transportation’ Category

Supermarket Street Sweep 2014

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Riding a bike is a great way to become more connected with your community, and during this time of gift giving, it’s inspiring to see the many ways that people are using bikes to give back to their neighbors and cities.

One local effort that we think deserves special attention is the Supermarket Street Sweep event in San Francisco, which recently raised its biggest-ever haul of food and donations for the SF-Marin Food Bank. Every December, hundreds of riders bike up and down the city following an alley-cat route of supermarkets on all kinds of bikes, picking up more and more food along the way to drop off at the finish line: the local Food Bank.

Since 2006, the Supermarket Street Sweep has raised thousands of dollars and delivered over 120,000 meals to the SF-Marin Food Bank. This year 132 riders brought over 12,000 pounds of food on bicycles. This fun community ride grows bigger every year, and was inspired by the Cranksgiving ride, started in New York and now held in cities around the country. It’s an amazing sight to witness these bicyclists racing around the city collecting food and hauling heavy loads on all kinds of bicycles. This year’s winner carried 1,745 pounds on his own wheels – that’s almost an entire ton of food!

We love events like Supermarket Street Sweep and Cranksgiving because they use bikes to connect people with each other and with their communities and cities in a spirit of giving and fun. If you’re looking for a way to give back to your city this year, check out local benefit rides in your area, or better yet, organize your own! You might be surprised how a small thing like a bicycle can make a big impact on the people around you.

Reading, Riding + Arithmetic

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

 

You don’t need a high IQ to see why bikes and colleges are a good fit. Colleges are places where higher education and progressive thought flourish, so a transportation form like biking that’s simple and affordable, environmentally-friendly and cultivates a sense of community and connection, just makes sense. Plus, because most campuses are flat, relatively car-free and with buildings significantly apart from each other, zipping to and from via bike is a logical choice.

Occidental College in Los Angeles has been partnering with PUBLIC bikes for a few years now to provide PUBLIC bikes for their free student bike share program. We’re pumped to see how much the Occidental Bike Share Program has grown over the years and it’s so cool to see our bikes being put to such good use on a daily basis.



Occidental College is a great role model for other campuses interested in starting a bike share program. They started small in 2011 with just four aging and poorly maintained bikes to rent. Now according to their head mechanic, Charles Deffarges, the program has grown to include over 24 well-kept PUBLIC bikes, in orange and cream to match the college’s colors.

In addition to well maintained bikes, they now have a dedicated and fully stocked bike workshop where as soon as a bike rental comes in, someone is waiting to ride it out. “Right now our fleet is fully rented,” said Deffarges. “Demand is through the roof and we’re looking to have 30 bikes available to rent by 2015.”

We have years of experience customizing PUBLIC bikes for organizations. With enough quantity and lead-time we can even create bikes in the color of your college or company. If you’re interested in partnering with PUBLIC to create a custom fleet, please get in touch.

Customers Speak Up On E-Bikes

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Electric bikes, aka “E-Bikes” have been taking Europe by storm and are finally gaining traction in the US. These bikes were the highlight of the recent Interbike show in Las Vegas and we’re putting a lot of new customers on our PUBLIC BionX e-bikes.

We’ve been selling and touting the merits of e-bikes for awhile now at PUBLIC. Our founder, Rob Forbes endorses the e-bike and zips all around San Francisco on his. Recently, we reached out to our PUBLIC BionX e-bike buyers asking them for their feedback on their e-bikes. Here are responses from a few of them.

I love my PUBLIC E-bike. While a lot of people scoff at the idea of an able bodied person using an E-bike it makes perfect sense for me. As a mom it allows me to cover more ground in less time to run errands while my two kids are in school. As a working person I am able to bike effortlessly to the train station to commute to work. As a transportation cyclist who can be slow and unsteady on a bike it allows me to move at speed with traffic and get through tough intersections with ease. I bike more often and with a ton of confidence and never worry about struggling. I regularly bike 7 hilly round trip miles to the gym and never have to deal with the circus show that is parking.” – Vanessa Allen

I’ve had my PUBLIC D BionX for about 2 weeks now and call it “Wonder Wheels” since I feel like a wonder woman when I ride it. I live in the Excelsior in the south-end of San Francisco and commute to Upper Rockridge in Oakland every workday and continue to ride for errands and pleasure on weekends. During the week, I ride to downtown and take the Caltrans bike shuttle across the bridge for $1 each way. I like to say that I have a $2 + 700 calorie daily commute. And now that I have pedal assist on a stunning PUBLIC bike, I can’t help but smile gleefully throughout all 17+ bicycle miles. I love that I can still get a workout if I want one by riding it with no assist or even added resistance and then zoom up a hill with ease.” – Lori Hébert

I purchased my first PUBLIC bike, a V7, in 2012 so I could make the 1 1/2 mile commute to work. It was a nice flat ride. Fast forward to 2014, I had purchased a home 5 miles and a 430 ft climb from work. As much as I love my V7, I was not going to be able to ride it home, as it is pretty much uphill all of the way. I stopped riding for 6 months and really was missing it. Especially the exercise! After much thought, I decided to go with the PUBLIC D BionX and I could not be happier! The bike itself is wonderful and not as heavy as I had expected. The BionX hub motor gives me the confidence and power that I need to make the ride home, and now that I’m riding again, I hope to shed the weight I gained and make the ride even better. I love using the throttle on the flat parts on my way to work, so I do not get sweaty on the ride. The battery life has been great. I carry the charger with me so I can charge at work. The rainy season in Oregon has begun and I have had no problems riding in the rain. The PUBLIC D BionX is a great bike for commuting in hilly areas and has the quality I have come to expect from PUBLIC. I still plan on pulling out the V7 for leisurely (and flatter) rides, but my main ride is the BionX and I could not be happier!”
- Brian Noga

I rode home from the PUBLIC Hayes Street store, cruised the hills and into the a nice headwind all the way to my dreaded 10th avenue hill–right to my house. Did not break a sweat. This is a very cool machine.” – Joel Young

I have four different levels of torque assist, ranging from mild to substantial. I have found that using the mild assist is helpful for level surfaces, as the added weight that the battery and crank system adds is substantial (the bicycle weighs about forty-five pounds). For steep hills, the added assist allows me to cruise around fifteen miles per hour. I get home in half the time that I did while riding a conventional bicycle.

The unexpected benefit that I have found is that I am still getting a fantastic work out, through both cardiovascular effort and through muscle fatigue in my legs. The psychological “rush” that I get with a pedal assist makes me want to pedal constantly. I have also found that I will try to challenge myself by lowering the pedal assist for certain portions of my trip.

I have had my bicycle now for about one month, and I must say that it is a fantastic option for people who want the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you will make it up hills without killing yourself. It is also great fun to pass bicycle messengers and people half your age. I have found that you can also quickly accelerate if you need a quick start from a stopped position.”  - Dan Baumstark (Read Dan’s full review here.)

And when we first introduced our PUBLIC BionX e-bike to the market, we invited a handful of public customers to come and test out these electric bikes for the first time. Here’s the video of their experiences:

Ride It to Believe It: New Electric Bikes from PUBLIC Bikes on Vimeo.

Best New Bike Apps for City Biking

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Best Bike Apps for iPhone bike directions and Android apps for biking

In honor of iPhone Day, we put together a list of some of our favorite iPhone bike apps and Android apps for people who bike in the city. The newest generations of smartphones are some of the best bike accessories ever, with some really cool new bike apps now available that make city biking even more fun and easy. From navigation to weather to fitness tracking, here’s a quick list of some of the apps that have earned a permanent place on our home screens.

Got a better app that we should know about? We are always looking for ways to make city biking smarter, easier, and more fun. If you are interested in developing a new bike app or gadget, get in touch. We are always interested in strategic partnerships to develop smart new bike gear.

 

Google Maps for Mobile
Turn-by-turn GPS bike navigation
Free: iPhone | Android | Web
Google Maps bike directions for iPhoneAfter Apple ditched Google’s maps for the iPhone 5, Google soon released their own new version of the Google Maps app for iPhone. It surpassed the original in most ways, and recently it even added bike-friendly directions, something Android users already enjoyed, and Apple’s maps never offered. While its bike directions are still sometimes a bit odd, Google Maps has been continuously improving its map data for a decade now, and it’s one of the only apps available with turn-by-turn voice navigation for your bike, just like in a car. (Pro tip: tuck your phone in your shirt or jacket’s breast pocket to hear the speaker while riding. Also a great way to add some jams to your ride.) The Android version also has some cool extras like an elevation chart to see how steep your route will be. For a quick way to plan a bike ride across almost any city, the Google Maps app deserves a place in every biker’s pocket.

 

Citymapper
All your transit options in one clever app
Free: iPhone | Android | Web
Citymapper public transit bike directions for iPhone and AndroidThe mission statement of Citymapper is to “make cities easier to use,” and at PUBLIC we think that’s pretty cool. Since they recently added directions for the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s quickly become one of our favorite apps for getting around town. It scouts out every available transportation option to help you find the smartest possible routes. You can plan a trip by bike, bus, ferry, train, taxi, or walking, and even city bike sharing systems if you don’t have your own bike with you. It packs in a ton of features without feeling too cluttered, and even makes room for some clever jokes, like showing the calories burned on your bike ride in units of soy lattes or $4 artisanal toast. While the new Bay Area bike directions could still use some improvement, the app overall is very thoughtfully designed, with lots of cheeky details that make your commute a little more fun. Plan a trip by catapult or teleporter and you’ll see what I mean.

 

Bike Maps – by Maplets
Curated, downloadable bike maps for your local area
99 cents: iPhone | $2.99: Android
Bike Maps by Maplets for iPhoneBefore the iPhone era, the state of the art bike maps were on paper, showing the official bike infrastructure of the city. These local maps are often quite carefully designed for city bikers, and they encourage you to build your own knowledge of your city’s bike routes rather than relying on GPS instructions. The Bike Maps – by Maplets app brings these bike maps to your phone, with an extensive list of maps available for your local area. Once downloaded, they can be navigated offline, saving your battery and data plan. My local favorite is the San Francisco Bike and Walking Map, which shades every street in the city according to its steepness. Crucial, because I am a big wimp about hills. You can make notes and draw routes to remember your favorite spots, and some maps allow you to overlay your current GPS location. The map collection is extensive, including parks and off-road trails, so you’re sure to find some new rides. Well worth the paid download.

 

Forecast.io Weather for Bicyclists on iPhone and Android Forecast.io
Crazy good hyperlocal weather reports
Free: Forecast.io web app for all devices | $3.99: Dark Sky app for iPhone
Forecast.io Weather App for Bicyclists on iPhone and AndroidGood weather reports are crucial for bike commuters to know what clothes to wear or pack for a dry day at work. Especially in the legendary San Francisco microclimates, a good weather app should pinpoint your precise location for the most accurate information. Forecast.io is the best designed free mobile weather app I’ve found, with a proprietary API that compiles 19 different sources of weather data to provide a simple accurate forecast at a glance, with a cool scrolling timeline view. When rain is looming, the screen adds a little precipitation chart that predicts how wet the next hour will be – great for picking the best time to ride home in between rain showers. It’s a free web app that works on any smartphone, tablet, or computer just by visiting http://forecast.io in your browser. If you like what they do, check out their Dark Sky app for iPhone which offers rain notification messages.

 

IFTTT Rain Alerts for Bike Commuters on iPhone and Android IFTTT – if this then that
Customizable weather alerts (plus a million other possibilities)
Free: iPhone | Android | Web
IFTTT Rain Alerts for Bike Commuters on iPhone and AndroidIFTTT offers all-purpose internet wiring to connect different websites and online services together and make all kinds of cool things happen. One useful way to use IFTTT for biking is to create personalized weather reports that automatically send you an email, text, or app notification when rain is in the forecast, so you’ll never be caught without a raincoat again. Just sign up for free and make this recipe: If Weather:Tomorrow’s forecast calls for… Rain, Then SMS:Send me an SMS. Instead of a text message, you can also choose an email, or a notification from the mobile app. You can set this all up on ifttt.com, but the mobile apps are also quite slick and they enable some extra features like app notifications. Here’s a link to my recipe if you want to use it to get started!

 

Moves iPhone activity tracker for cyclists Moves
Simple, automatic activity tracking
Free: iPhone | Android
Moves iPhone activity tracker for cyclistsIf you’re interested in activity tracking but aren’t quite ready to commit to a Fitbit, the free Moves app offers simple movement tracking throughout the day using just your phone. Automatically detecting whether you’re walking, running, or biking, it generates an elegant daily and weekly journal of your activity in terms of steps taken, miles traveled, calories burned, and time spent moving, to motivate your fitness goals. (Not for the paranoid – you end up with a detailed list of every place you visit.) You can also use it to record other activities and workouts, and it can share your activity data with more heavy duty fitness apps. It oddly doesn’t include any kind of goal setting features, but at least its simplicity offers a pleasant, zen experience. It thankfully includes a Battery Saving mode to make sure your phone doesn’t tire out before you do.

 

 

Strava bike fitness app Strava
Athletic tracking with friendly competition
Free: iPhone | Android | Web
Strava bike fitness appDefinitely the most popular app for the lycra wearing crowd, Strava turns your phone into a bike computer to calculate all kinds of fitness data while you ride, like calories, miles, elevation, speed, and mapping your route on GPS. It awards you for personal best records and keeps track of your cumulative rides and runs over the course of the year. Our product manager Aaron recently used Strava to track his progress as he rode every street in San Francisco. What makes Strava different is its heavy emphasis on social networking, with a news feed of the rides your friends are taking, local leaderboard rankings of the most popular spots around town, and regular challenges to motivate you to ride. Its ride mapping has also inspired a new genre of bike route art that’s most notably led to a marriage proposal spelled out street by street. Top that one, Aaron!
Strava Marry Me

Did we miss your favorite bike app? Tell us what’s on your home screen in the comments below.

 

A PUBLIC Stand: No on Gridlock, No on Prop L

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Even in a progressive city like San Francisco where we’re headquartered, we’re still fighting this outdated mindset that wider roads, more parking garages, and free parking is good for our city. Despite numerous studies and real world examples from all around the world that the opposite is true, it is all too easy for well funded groups to bait the public with misguided promises of free parking and more parking garages as a way to ease traffic congestion. This trickery has been proven wrong for decades.

A good example of this is an upcoming ballot measure in San Francisco called Prop L. We find this proposition so narrow-minded that we’re hosting a fundraising event to support the No on Gridlock, No on Prop L campaign. Please join us and make a donation to support the opposition if you are in the Bay Area.

No on Gridlock, No on Prop L Fundraiser
Tuesday, Sept. 16 from 6-8pm.
Hosted by PUBLIC Bikes
549 Hayes

Suggested $20-$100 donation

And for non-residents of San Francisco, this proposition and its potential effect is a reminder that we all need to be vigilant and take a stand for our communities, not for our cars. The battle over our public spaces waging in San Francisco leading up to November election is happening in some shape or form in other cities.

Congestion and its effect on quality of life is an issue in almost every US city. Many people think wider roads, free parking, and more parking garages will ease traffic congestion, when in fact it just worsens the situation for all of us by encouraging more cars on our already congested roads.

Wired’s article, “What’s Up With That: Building Bigger Roads Actually Makes Traffic Worse,” does an excellent job summarizing the concept of “induced demand, which is economist-speak for when increasing the supply of something (like roads) makes people want that thing even more.” And this article “Why Free Parking Is Bad For Everyone” also demystifies terribly wrong assumptions. These are must-read articles.

On this November’s ballot San Francisco voters will be asked to weigh in on Proposition L. We at PUBLIC are encouraging our customers and fans to vote No on Gridlock, No on Prop L. You can read background on Proposition L here.

Our friends at Tranform wrote an excellent analysis of why voters should reject Proposition L, which is a radical effort to reverse San Francisco’s environmental and transportation priorities.

You can also watch this short video by San Francisco League of Conservation Voters outlining the key arguments against Proposition L.

What are we doing about this at PUBLIC? We’re opening our Hayes Valley for a No on Gridlock, No on Prop L fundraiser to raise money to educate voters.

If you’re in the Bay Area, we invite you to 549 Hayes on Tuesday night, Sept 16 from 6-8pm. Learn more about our event here and invite your friends. If you can’t attend, we encourage you to make a donation.

Our vision for communities, including our very own San Francisco, is to support efforts to make our neighborhoods more people-friendly. Efforts to build more parking garages, widen road, reduce bike lanes, and provide more free parking, are simply antithetical to what we stand for at PUBLIC.

At its core, we need to recognize that when we get in our cars, we’re not just stuck in traffic – we are traffic. So why would we want to create more gridlock by encouraging more people to drive and circle around looking for free parking?

We hope you’ll join us in encouraging rational, smart transportation policies in your city. And if you’re in San Francisco, we invite you to join us at our No on Gridlock event and vote No on Prop L this November. There are a few other transportation-related ballot measures to understand.

Resources For Biking With Kids

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

As Summer fades and Fall begins, parents around the nation are readying their children for the first day of school. There are many ways to get your children to school and of course we think parents who are willing and able to bike their children to school are doing such a cool thing. Starting the day off with a bike ride shows your child that biking is a feasible and safe means of transportation. Plus, it’s a great way to create a fun shared experience with your child while squeezing in a bit of exercise.

That said, biking with your kids might at first seem overwhelming. How do I convert my bike to accomodate a child? What safety items will I need? What rules of the road should I follow? Here are 3 resources (and one little extra from us) for those considering biking with their children:

Resource #1: SF Bike Coalition’s Family Bike Guide

This thorough guide by the SFBC on biking with your family is sure to answer any and all of your biking + kid-related questions.

Resource #2: Safekids.org

The website has a great bike safety guide with tips that range from how to properly fit your child with a helmet to helpful road rule reminders.

Resource #3: Momentum Magazine’s Family Biking Articles

Momentum Magazine offers this compendium of family biking articles with loads of ideas for  transporting kids by bike and making family biking a part of your everyday routine.

Resource #4: JUST FOR FUN, OUR PUBLIC VIMEO ON A FAMILY WHO BIKES

We created a short video about a local family who has built biking into their everyday lifestyle. Give it a watch and get inspired.

 

Do you suffer from “Bicycle Face”?

Friday, August 29th, 2014

For women in the late 19th century, bikes symbolized more than two-wheeled transportation. They were instruments of change, allowing women more mobility and redefining the Victorian notions of femininity. This radical idea of women freely moving about, and in pants no less, did not jive with the traditional notion that the woman’s place was in the home.

As a result, doctors of the era took to diagnosing females in particular with the condition bicycle face, “characterized as including bulging eyes, and a tightened jawbone.” This article from Vox entitled “The 19th-century health scare that told women to worry about ‘bicycle face” does a great job of discussing the false malady and exploring the real reason behind why doctors were diagnosing this.

To the 21st century woman who bikes, wears pants and makes funny faces that don’t “freeze” (thankfully) while cycling, this myth about bicycle face is just plain ridiculous. As the Vox article describes, men viewed bikes as just another toy, women during the early 19th century saw them as a tool. A way to cycle out of their conventional roles and gain equality.

Vox also references this incredible (incredible because of it’s hilarity) “List of 41 Don’ts For Women on Bicycles.” There are so many “good” ones on this list it’s definitely worth a read. If you don’t have the time, here are some highlights:

#2: Don’t faint on the road.
#8: Don’t boast of your long rides.
#10: Don’t wear loud hued leggings.
#22: Don’t chew gum. Exercise your jaws in private.
and #41: Don’t appear to be up on “records” and “record smashing.” That is sporty.

 

Traffic Jams In All Forms

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Take a look at these eerie images of cars abandoned in a Belgium forest. These amazing, haunting images by Rosanne de Lange were actually taken at one of the biggest car cemeteries in the world – the Chatillion Car Graveyard in Belgium.

As discussed on this blog, “According to an urban legend these cars were left behind by US soldiers from World War II, who could not ship them back to the US so they decided to hide them in a forest until they could come back and retrieve them. The locals disagree and say that it’s simply an old car dump of vehicles made after the WWII”.

Click on the above images to share them via Facebook.

Traffic has been in the news a lot lately, including the 8+ hours to get to the playa of Burning Man’s Black Rock City to thousands of concert goers missing a Paul McCartney concert at the last event at Candlestick Park due to the Big Jam.

We’ve written about traffic before on our blog. More bicycles, better public transit, and improved walkable neighborhoods helps. But most importantly, we need to recognize that when we get in our cars, we’re not just stuck in traffic – we are traffic. Feel free to share this image out on Facebook.

Congestion and its effect on quality of life is an issue in almost every US city. We’re not going to solve this problem by building wider roads, at the expense of walkable, livable neighborhoods, or encouraging more cars on our already congested roads.

Even in a progressive city like San Francisco, there are people who are determined to reverse the city’s efforts to reduce car congestion and prioritize transit and walkable neighborhoods. In this November’s ballot San Francisco voters will be asked to weigh in on Proposition L. We at PUBLIC are encouraging our customers and fans to vote No on Gridlock (No on Prop L). Learn more here.

 

Halfway Is Not Enough

Thursday, July 24th, 2014
Bike-able Bridges

Images courtesy of Rob Forbes, The Botster and Ipv Delft

PUBLIC is headquartered on both sides of the San Francisco Bay, with a new flagship store and design studio in Hayes Valley, SF, and a distribution center and office in Jack London Square, Oakland. I often enjoy taking the ferry across the bay to our Oakland office, but sometimes the best choice is to drive across the Bay Bridge.

Every time I sit in bridge traffic returning to San Francisco from the East Bay, I have two conflicting emotions. First, how majestic, elegant, and inspirational the new bridge is aesthetically –and second, how unfortunate, even cruel it is that even after spending $6.5 billion on the modern new eastern span that opened last fall, a person still can’t ride a bike across the bridge from the San Francisco to the East Bay. For those unfamiliar, you can only ride half way across!

Riding the bike lanes on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, you’re treated to a gorgeous, expansive view with incredible vistas that are a treat for tourists and locals alike. But there are no definite plans to complete the bike connection on the existing western span to San Francisco, which is an opportunity unfulfilled. Take Copenhagen, it’s already awash in bike-able bridges and it’s now considering creating the 2nd largest bike bridge in the world.

Bay Bridge Lights Image Courtesy of Greg Del Savio

We have made some world-class bridge designs in the Bay Area, the Golden Gate Bridge at the top of the list. It gets over 10 million visitors every year, and the bike ride across it is epic and loved by locals and tourists alike. The recent Bay Lights project on the west span of the Bay Bridge rivals any urban lighting you’ll see in Copenhagen or anywhere else in Europe.

The vision behind these grand works casts a shadow for cyclists with the halfway solution of the new Bay Bridge redo, and makes us realize that we are still playing catch up to many European cities when it comes to comprehensive progressive transportation solutions. At PUBLIC we sincerely hope there will enough public pressure on politicians and government executives who make transportation planning and funding decisions to eventually make the Bay Bridge fully open to bikes and pedestrians, not just cars.

Travel In The World’s Most Bike Friendly Cities.

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

When traveling, biking is a superior way of getting around (no pricey cab fares or metros to navigate) that’s only getting better. Cities around the world are making it easier than ever to hop on two wheels and explore with improved bike infrastructure and convenient bike share programs. We have several perspectives listed below.

Click on the colorful grid above for the definitive list of 25 Bike Friendly Cities across the globe from Copenhaganize; Amsterdam (Netherlands), Copenhagen (Denmark), Utrecht (Netherlands), Seville (Spain) and Bordeaux (France) receive the highest ranking, and less obvious cities like Budapest (Hungary) and Tokyo (Japan) make the list.

What makes these cities truly bike friendly are the ample dedicated bike lanes, some that go for miles, bike share programs that are well used by the community and a hard core commitment to building out better bike infrastructure in the future.


Bike sharing is really coming around and for travelers this is an awesome perk. Momentum Magazine lists it’s top cities for bike share and the ones in the US that get nods are New York, Miami and Chicago. Lonely Planet highlights cities around the globe with significant bike share programs and the likes of London (England), Paris (France), Montreal (Canada) and Hangzhou (China) top the list.

So, as this travel blog with it’s own list of top 10 bicycle friendly cities quotes, “The next time you find yourself in a bike-friendly city, skip the car rental and let your legs do the driving.”