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Archive for the ‘Sustainable Transportation’ Category

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Even in a progressive city like San Francisco where we’re headquartered, we’re still fighting this outdated mindset that wider roads, more parking garages, and free parking is good for our city.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.”

Riding The Roads Less Ridden

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

World Cup. Bikes and Brazil.

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

PUBLIC World Cup Correspondent,
Dan

Bike To Work Bay Area

Friday, May 9th, 2014

Supervisor London Breed on Cream PUBLIC C7

Yesterday the Bay Area celebrated the 20th Anniversary of Bike to Work Day with an impressive amount of bikers hitting the road. One major San Francisco thoroughfare tallied that nearly 76% of the trips made on it yesterday were done by bike. Well done, San Francisco!

The month of May is National Bike Month and we’re happy to see so many people participating in Bike to Work Day. Of course, we think everyday should be Bike to Work Day for anyone who works less than 5 miles from home. In the Bay Area alone, more than one million Bay Area residents live within five miles of their workplace.

If you’re considering biking to daily as part of your commute, but not sure where to start, check out the San Francisco Bike Coalition for maps and tips and more. If you’re a bike-to-work regular or just getting into biking, drop us a line and let us know how your bike commute went yesterday

Imagine how less congested our streets would be and how much healthier and happier people would be if more people made the choice to bicycle, walk, or take public transit to work.

We’re lucky to live in San Francisco where bicycling is a mainstream activity and the majority of our local elected officials recognize the value of bicycling. This year, 9 out of 11 local elected Board of Supervisors, our Mayor, and our District Attorney all participated in Bike to Work Day with thousands of other residents. Bike to Work Day helps remind these elected officials to fully fund and prioritize initiatives like Connecting the City which creates safe and accessible bikeways for anyone from 8 to 80 years old.

We know cities can get more people to bicycle if they create separated bikeways like this new one on Polk Street near City Hall. It takes political will and funding to make these changes happen on our public streets.

We encourage you to find out more about your local Bike to Work Day activities – and support your local and statewide bicycle advocacy organizations working to make bicycling better for all of us.


Bike to Work Day 2014 photos by SF Bike Coalition

Bikes are Up, Traffic is Down in San Francisco

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

City Leaders and Bike Advocates on Bike to Work Day. Traffic on Bay Bridge.

Many of us accept punishing traffic situations on a daily basis. Traffic can seem as inevitable as having to file your taxes every April. But while we haven’t figured out a better solution for the 1040 form, traffic is a problem that can be solved. Cities all over the world are being reconfigured to be more pedestrian friendly, limiting car traffic by a number of means, with amazing results. The latest news from the SF Chronicle is that commuter traffic has improved all over San Francisco in the past couple years, with fewer cars on the streets and shorter waits at lights. How did San Francisco manage to reduce automobile congestion? We made our streets better for bikes.

According to the Chronicle, car traffic is improving because more residents and commuters are choosing bicycles and public transit, and leaving their cars at home. The number of people biking in San Francisco has doubled since 2006, thanks to the advocacy of the SF Bike Coalition; the city’s improvements in bike infrastructure like green bike lanes, signals, and parking; and bikes like ours that are designed to be easy for all kinds of people to ride.

The new Bay Area Bike Share is a good “last mile” solution for transit riders to get to their final destination, and regional commuter train BART now allows people to bring their own bikes on board during peak commuting hours (finally!). There are many other forces at work to help solve the traffic problems, such as charging more for parking, creating pedestrian zones and congestion pricing, but bikes are proving to provide the most simple and affordable solution.

These bike-positive changes are happening all over the country, from big cities like ChicagoDC and New York to small towns like Edinburg, Texas. And no matter where you live, it’s a movement you can be part of. Joining a state or local bike advocacy group like the California Bike Coalition is a great way to start. And of course, choosing to ride a bike (using the best commuter bike) or take transit instead of driving a car is the easiest way you can curb traffic in your city.