World Cup. Bikes and Brazil.

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… Read more »

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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

May 9th, 2014

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… Read more »

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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

Women, Bikes, and Freedom

November 15th, 2013

When we launched PUBLIC four years ago, we wanted to build a company that offered bicycles and products attractive to all kinds of people, especially women. We’re proud that 60% of our customers are women – and we’re thrilled to see the growing number of women biking around the country. In case you missed it,… Read more »

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When we launched PUBLIC four years ago, we wanted to build a company that offered bicycles and products attractive to all kinds of people, especially women.

We’re proud that 60% of our customers are women – and we’re thrilled to see the growing number of women biking around the country.

In case you missed it, The League of American Bicyclists recently issued a report called “Women on a Roll” (PDF) that highlighted many of the trends we’ve been seeing first-hand. Bicycle Times summarized the report and noted that from “2003 to 2012, the number of women and girls who bicycle rose 20 percent, compared to a .5 percent decline among men.

In our blog, we’ve previously highlighted fifteen women who are making a difference in bicycling around the country. Our list was not meant to be comprehensive, but a conversation starter. Read the comments for other difference-makers, including Georgena Terry from Terry Bicycles, Mia Birk of Alta Planning + Design, or Renee Rivera of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition.

The good news is that more women are joining the ranks of people incorporating a bicycle in their lives – and they’re leading many advocacy and industry game-changing companies. We hope to do our small part at PUBLIC.

We’re Hiring. Help Build Walkable (and Bikeable) Cities

October 18th, 2013

If you want to know why I started PUBLIC, and why we feel constantly excited and accomplished about getting more people on bikes, watch this TED video. Jeff Speck articulates the reasons why the movement to make our cities more walkable and bikeable is perhaps one of the most important social initiatives in the US… Read more »

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If you want to know why I started PUBLIC, and why we feel constantly excited and accomplished about getting more people on bikes, watch this TED video. Jeff Speck articulates the reasons why the movement to make our cities more walkable and bikeable is perhaps one of the most important social initiatives in the US for the 21st century.

Jeff is a hero of mine, and a mentor. I have written about him and his recent book, Walkable City in a prior PUBLIC Opinion essay. I was privileged to work with him for two years when he headed up the NEA sponsored Mayors’ Institute on City Design, where designers, urbanists, and mayors get together and help solve design problems facing modern US cities.

Jeff’s talk is about ways the US can be more economically resilient, healthy, and environmentally sustainable by making our cities more walkable and bikeable. And he is not afraid to challenge some major issues with the path of development the US took in the 20th century. Watch this to learn why “the worse idea we’ve ever had [in the US] is suburban sprawl.”

Jeff Speck on Walkable Cities at TED

We’re Hiring

We are recruiting for several positions listed below. Additionally, we always have projects that need to be managed by self-directed part-time employees. If you have a friendly demeanor, curiosity, a college degree, solid computer skills, and a desire to change the world, please send us a note of interest and resume to jobs@publicbikes.com. All inquiries will be kept confidential, and we will follow up in more detail with any qualified applicant.

Online Marketing Associate – Part-Time or Full-Time

This person will take ownership for the success of our online marketing program and its impact on the overall growth of our online sales channel. This position could be a part-time contract or possibly full-time employee job based in San Francisco. You will use current online marketing technology, both internal and outsourced, to implement programs to enhance traffic (SEM and SEO), Google Analytics, and customer insights/merchandising. Pay depends on experience. Find out more and apply here.

IT Technical Support – Part-Time

This part-time IT Technical Support Contractor based in the San Francisco Bay Area will have technical know-how to serve as our in-house IT support point person related to PUBLIC’s technology systems, including our retail point of sales, e-commerce and inventory management, and basic office connectivity technology troubleshooting in a mixed Macintosh and Windows environment. This person will be familiar with all information systems used at PUBLIC, including hardware and software. Pay depends on experience. Learn more and apply here.

Retail Store Sales Associates – Part-Time

We are looking for part-time Retail Store Sales Associates immediately who are able to work on weekends and already be located in the Bay Area. Retail experience and references are essential, but you do not need to be a bike mechanic. For more information visit our website.

Top 10 Reasons to E-Bike

October 16th, 2013

Hi, I’m Rob, founder of PUBLIC and a daily e-bike rider. I’ve put together my top ten reasons for buying an e-bike, as an experienced rider and advocate. They are a thrill. You will ride more often. They make hills a non-issue. I like climbing hills on my road bike, and when we ride for… Read more »

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Hi, I’m Rob, founder of PUBLIC and a daily e-bike rider. I’ve put together my top ten reasons for buying an e-bike, as an experienced rider and advocate.

PUBLIC M8 Electric Mixte Electric Bike in San Francisco
PUBLIC D8 Electric BionX Bike in San Francisco
PUBLIC M8 Electric BionX e-bike in San Francisco
PUBLIC M8 BionX Electric Mixte electric bike in San Francisco
  1. They are a thrill.
  2. You will ride more often.
  3. They make hills a non-issue. I like climbing hills on my road bike, and when we ride for exercise we typically look for steep hills. It feels good to sweat and hammer up a hill, and you always get the rewarding descent. But to me there is no pleasure in riding hills in the city when dressed in work clothes. With an e-bike, I can ride up even the steepest hills without puffing, with about as much effort as walking.
  4. They are friend-friendly. If you have a partner or friend who does not ride as vigorously as you, on an e-bike they can keep up with you (or stay ahead of you).
  5. Park anywhere for free.
  6. Ride in bike lanes to avoid traffic.
  7. Saves money (no license, insurance, or parking meters).
  8. Speed. If you want to zip past the other cyclists you can, some will chuckle, others will glare.
  9. Effortless function. You can carry twenty extra pounds of anything and not even know it.
  10. Now equipped with disc brakes our new e-bikes are safer than ever.

The Rise of Technology and the Decline of Driving

October 10th, 2013

One of our favorite sources of information about urban issues is the The Atlantic Cities, which recently featured this article by Emily Badger on some of the less obvious effects of the rise of technology. “Teleconferencing has made telework more common. E-commerce has reduced the need to drive to the mall. Real-time arrival apps have… Read more »

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Millennials Prefer to Bike

One of our favorite sources of information about urban issues is the The Atlantic Cities, which recently featured this article by Emily Badger on some of the less obvious effects of the rise of technology.

“Teleconferencing has made telework more common. E-commerce has reduced the need to drive to the mall. Real-time arrival apps have made public transit more predictable. Solar-powered stations have helped bike-share expand. WiFi and smart phones have made it possible to get work done on a moving bus, raising the mental cost of driving alone. And social media, for some people, has reduced the need to travel across town to see a friend you might more easily connect with on Facebook.”

Read the full article here.

A correlation between high-tech culture and smarter transportation is obvious to those of us who live and work in San Francisco. We see many people who choose to live car free, and there are increasing numbers of young people on bikes on our streets. The major tech companies like Twitter, Apple, Google, and Facebook have incentive programs for employees who bike to work, and many have bike share programs on their campuses.

Millennials are a lot more passionate and interested in connectivity — smart phone and apps — than they are about physical mobility and what kind of car you drive. This is an optimistic sign and a phenomenon that appears to hold true in all other progressive cities across the country.

Electric Bikes and Millennials

PUBLIC BionX mixte electric bike in San Francisco

We don’t have any stats on Millennials’ preferences for electric bikes in the US yet. But studies in Europe show that these new electrical-assisted bikes are the fastest growing transportation segment in their cities. This new generation of faster, easier bikes have become a logical alternative to a car for many people. We’ve launched a range of e-bikes this month. Some are made from PUBLIC DNA with a BionX system, and others from the Swiss bike design firm Stromer. They combine technology in a manner that will appeal to both Millennials and the older crowd alike.

Announcing new electric bikes from PUBLIC

October 4th, 2013

Listen up. We are introducing several electric bikes this month at PUBLIC. I want to strongly encourage any and all bicycle lovers to take a close look at these and, if possible, take one out for a test ride. If you’re in the Bay Area or Seattle, we’ve got several models we can loan you… Read more »

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Listen up. We are introducing several electric bikes this month at PUBLIC. I want to strongly encourage any and all bicycle lovers to take a close look at these and, if possible, take one out for a test ride. If you’re in the Bay Area or Seattle, we’ve got several models we can loan you for a quick test ride.

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PUBLIC D8 Electric in Black

I don’t often make product endorsements this strong. But I have been checking out e-bikes for five years, watching them explode in popularity all over Europe. I’ve also been riding these e-bikes every day for several months, and I have become an addict, an evangelist, and a proselytizer. I think these bikes are game changers, commute changers, and even life changers for some of us. The electrical assist function is perhaps the biggest technology change in bikes since the invention of the derailleur to change your gears. They will not replace our basic bikes for beauty and simplicity. And why should they? But e-bikes offer some terrific benefits that will encourage many of us to ride more often. Find out more about the advantages of electric bikes on our website.

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PUBLIC M8 Electric in Navy

I am fortunate to have several different bikes and a Vespa in my garage. Depending on my mood and what my day demands, I always have to decide which is the best vehicle to ride. Now that I have an electric bike I find myself choosing it way more often than the others because it gives me the most flexibility, speed, and fun. My daily commute involves two stretches that are no fun: a mile stretch of flat grey asphalt, headwinds off the Golden Gate Bridge, and a steep half-mile uphill to my apartment. The e-bike solves the grind at the end of my day.

If I only had the space and budget for one two-wheeled vehicle in my life in San Francisco, it would be an e-bike. For any of us that have three to twenty-mile commutes or a hilly commute and are fortunate to live some place with a garage or elevator, an e-bike is a compelling option.

Buy a House Get a Free Bike

September 10th, 2013

You would have to be hiding under a rock to not notice the increased number of bikes on the streets in major cities across the US (and round the world). From bike share programs to the creation of bike lanes and biking infrastructure, major cities like NYC, Washington, D.C., Chicago and SF have been rolling… Read more »

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You would have to be hiding under a rock to not notice the increased number of bikes on the streets in major cities across the US (and round the world). From bike share programs to the creation of bike lanes and biking infrastructure, major cities like NYC, Washington, D.C., Chicago and SF have been rolling out programs.

PUBLIC is pleased to play a part in these progressive developments. Now we’re also seeing residential suburban communities following suit, and this bodes well for the greening of America. 
One new development is a new urban village down the SF Peninsula in San Mateo where 93 Shea Homes buyers are getting PUBLIC bikes. The old site was the Bay Meadows Race track, which closed its operations five years ago. So where horses used to run there will now be bikes rolling along.

Bay Meadows touts itself as a development where “Life in Motion” is celebrated and they’re truly living up to this vision.
 Here’s what Janice Thacher, partner at Wilson Meany, developer of Bay Meadows, had to say:

“In collaboration with Shea Homes, we are thrilled to provide each Landsdowne homeowner the gift of two-wheel transportation. Bay Meadows offers an innovative and sustainable new way to live, and PUBLIC Bikes closely shares our philosophy. With their new bikes, Landsdowne residents will take advantage of local San Mateo attractions, as well as Bay Meadows’ bike-friendly experience highlighted by trails, parks, and access to on-site retail and office space.”

How cool is that? Ninety-three new homeowners can go grocery shopping nearby using their PUBLIC bikes, and even access the nearby Caltrain station and take their bikes to San Francisco or elsewhere.

If you’re interested in checking out these Landsdowne homes, you can visit model residences daily from 12pm – 6pm. The units located on the Hillsdale Caltrain line seem especially desirable for people needing quick, smart access to San Francisco.

Erotic Parking in Japan

August 19th, 2013

Most of us who get around on bikes everyday are accustomed to improvising parking solutions: a fence, a parking meter, a bridge, or even a tree will do in a pinch. It doesn’t make us happy to struggle to find parking, but we’ve gotten used to it. And then you see a solution like the… Read more »

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Most of us who get around on bikes everyday are accustomed to improvising parking solutions: a fence, a parking meter, a bridge, or even a tree will do in a pinch. It doesn’t make us happy to struggle to find parking, but we’ve gotten used to it. And then you see a solution like the “Underground Bike Parking in Japan” and you become green with envy. That’s why I use the word “erotic” because it fills me with desire, not for sex, but for public design solutions this sexy. How many more people would ride a bike to work if they knew it could be dropped off and retrieved so elegantly? How much clutter from the streets would we eliminate?

Cities are only going to become more congested and dense as more people move into them. This urban trend is global and unrelenting. Why isn’t the US a leader here? Is it asking too much in our high tech world with engineers behind epic companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter – many of whom ride bikes and live in the city – to work with government officials to come up with some inspiring bike parking solution like what we see in Japan? This is one Kickstarter campaign we would all get behind.

Rolling out the Green Carpet in San Francisco

August 13th, 2013

We’re big fans of color at PUBLIC, and we love to see it used intelligently in our public spaces to offset the grey asphalt that dominates our urban landscapes. We’ve add a fantastic infusion of green all throughout San Francisco this past month, making our bike lanes vivid, visible, safer, and cool, and giving our… Read more »

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What Color is Your Street?

We’re big fans of color at PUBLIC, and we love to see it used intelligently in our public spaces to offset the grey asphalt that dominates our urban landscapes. We’ve add a fantastic infusion of green all throughout San Francisco this past month, making our bike lanes vivid, visible, safer, and cool, and giving our lanes newfound respect and esteem. Green won’t get as much acclaim as the International Orange of our Golden Gate Bridge, but it has made a huge improvement to our riding, and it prompted us to think more about the use of color in public.

Color can inspire, detract, and many times communicate messages about the use and behavior expected of people using public spaces. For example, in the United States, we generally recognize Blue as a signal for disabled accommodation or parking. Yellow means caution or slow down, while Red signifies stop. White might communicate a temporary or restricted loading zone. You won’t find Pink or Purple anywhere. As we see more cities implement separated bikeways to make bicycling safer and more accessible, the color Green has become the de facto standard color for many bike lanes.

Why Green bike lanes? There’s actually been a lot of research on the best color treatment for bike lanes. What it boils down to is that the choice of Green for bike lanes is not just an aesthetic color choice, but a choice based on color as a “traffic control device.”

According to the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD):

San Francisco’s new green bike lanes on Market Street Bike counter on San Francisco’s Market Street New green bike lanes on Fell Street in San Francisco

“A number of experiments have been conducted in the United States and in other countries around the world to determine the value of designating a particular pavement color to communicate to road users that a portion of the roadway has been set aside for exclusive or preferential use by bicyclists and to enhance the conspicuity of a bicycle lane or a bicycle lane extension. Green, blue, and red are among the colors that have been tested for this purpose. Because these colored pavements are intended to regulate, warn, or guide traffic (motorists and bicyclists) and thus are serving as more than just an aesthetic treatment, they are considered to be traffic control devices. For the past ten years in the United States, green has been the only color that has received official FHWA approval for colored pavement experiments on bicycle facilities.”

While Green has become a more standard bike lane color, there isn’t a specific shade of green that’s been specified. While neon green might work on most streets, it might not be the best shade for a green bike lane inside a park, a debate that occurred when San Francisco implemented a green bike lane in Golden Gate Park.

Not surprisingly, the color Green for bike lanes is not universally loved. Certain members of the film industry in Los Angeles are upset over Green bike lanes because the color makes post-production work more tedious.

We’re excited when we see an increase in green bike lanes because it signifies a city’s priority to invest in bicycling improvements. There’s even a concerted effort called The Green Lane Project to push for improvements in six U.S. cities.

We can disagree over Green as the best color choice, but hopefully we can agree that more bike lanes are better for all of us.