An Urban Cupid?

February 14th, 2013

“We can live without it, we may live longer without it, and the doggie bag will survive just fine.” -Mayor Bloomberg comparing plastic foam containers to lead paint. We show love in many ways. This Valentines week, it’s mostly personal, private, and driven by commercial interests (like PUBLIC putting polka dot bikes on SALE!).  When… Read more »

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“We can live without it, we may live longer without it, and the doggie bag will survive just fine.”
-Mayor Bloomberg comparing plastic foam containers to lead paint.

We show love in many ways. This Valentines week, it’s mostly personal, private, and driven by commercial interests (like PUBLIC putting polka dot bikes on SALE!).  When I read in the New York Times that NYC Mayor Bloomberg was taking on the plastic-foam container industry, it reminded me of the exceptional civic love he’s shown for his city, especially for the health and well being of its residents and culture. He does truly embody the “I heart NY“ spirit that Milton Glaser so elegantly gave form to in this iconic logo.

Bloomberg’s other crusades of love have been in the news this past week, and predictably where he has been opposed by strong forces in political battles, many of which he may not win or that may be overturned when he departs office. His bike lanes initiatives made the news this week along with his smart taxi programs. Some of his courageous positions often contrast what we see in Washington, where love seems to be more easily purchased by lobbyists and where acts of genuine civic leadership take a backseat to personal interests.

It might be a stretch to think of any billionaire as a Cupid, but we hope that he can be a realistic role model for other politicians. And some his programs such as stop and frisk are controversial. But we hope that his heartfelt and genuine commitment can be a realistic role model for other politicians.

To Go: Plastic-Foam Containers, if the Mayor Gets His Way
Published by New York Times 2.13.13

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, whose regulatory lance has slain fatty foods, supersize sodas, and smoking in parks, is now targeting plastic foam, the much-derided polymer that environmentalists have long tried to restrict.

On Thursday, Mr. Bloomberg, in his 12th and final State of the City address, will propose a citywide ban on plastic-foam food packaging, including takeout boxes, cups and trays. Public schools would be instructed to remove plastic-foam trays from their cafeterias. Many restaurants and bodegas would be forced to restock.

In excerpts from his speech released on Wednesday, Mr. Bloomberg rails against plastic foam, even comparing it to lead paint. “We can live without it, we may live longer without it, and the doggie bag will survive just fine,” the mayor plans to say. Read on.

Anxiety Over Future of Bike Lanes
Published by New York Times 2.12.13

During Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s tenure, New York City has become a cycling haven, with sprawling lanes across each borough and a bike-share program set to begin this spring.

But as Mr. Bloomberg is to leave office at year’s end, there is widespread concern among cyclists that a reckoning awaits, and that the city’s next mayor may end this period of bike-friendly programs and policies.

The concern is noted even in the Bloomberg administration, where some speak of invisible countdown clocks in every city office, reminding officials of the dwindling time to complete projects. “Three-hundred and twenty-nine days,” Janette Sadik-Khan, the city’s transportation commissioner, said in a recent interview. “There’s an app where you can have it on your phone.” In a poll by The New York Times in August, 66 percent of New Yorkers said the bike lanes were a good idea; 27 percent called them a bad idea. Read on.

Doubting if Tomorrow Will Ever Come for Taxi
Published by New York Times 2.10.13

New York City’s attempt to reimagine its taxicab experience, perhaps the least divisive of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s legacy-making transportation efforts, now appears to be the most at risk. One measure, creating a vibrant street hail network of livery cabs outside Manhattan, has been mired in court since last June, delaying its implementation indefinitely.

Another, allowing New Yorkers to hail yellow taxis using smartphone apps, was watered down amid heavy lobbying from the livery and black car industries — and will most likely face a legal challenge.Then there was the crown jewel, cast in yellow: the so-called Taxi of Tomorrow, a nearly complete redesign of the modern taxi, the first since the age of the Checker cab. Now, that, too, is imperiled. Read on.

 

Cars. Freedom. Sex. Thanks.

December 28th, 2012

I received an email out of the blue last week from a childhood friend whom I had not heard from since 8th grade. The year was 1967.  We were mid-century modern kids growing up in suburban South Pasadena, right along the Pasadena Freeway (ostensibly the first freeway in the world). His note to me said:… Read more »

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I received an email out of the blue last week from a childhood friend whom I had not heard from since 8th grade. The year was 1967.  We were mid-century modern kids growing up in suburban South Pasadena, right along the Pasadena Freeway (ostensibly the first freeway in the world). His note to me said: “Will never forget going to the beach with your mom in her Volvo.”

I don’t remember that specific beach trip, but I sure remember my Mom’s car: a 1967 Volvo P1800, a sexy red sports car that hauled ass with a “high tech” flip switch overdrive, an elegant dashboard, and a body shaped like a cute rocket. There were not a lot of Swedish cars on the road then, so it probably stood out like a yellow Tesla or Ferrari would today. My mom was a way-left Irish feminist college teacher, hardly a car buff, and had no interest in design or mechanics. To her, the Volvo was a statement of identity and freedom.

My response to Kent was: “I remember riding on the back of your Dad’s Matchless.”

The Matchless was a classic British motorcycle, and Kent’s Dad was a true car and motorcycle buff.  He was a middle class husband and father – not a collector – but the guy had a Jaguar XJ12, a 52 Ford and his wife drove a 58 Thunderbird. He also had several motorcycles.  I remember riding his Honda 50 on his front lawn, going dirt bike riding and flying down the Pasadena Freeway on the back of his Matchless. I don’t think we had even the concept of a helmet then. He gave Kent a 1962 Austin Mini 850 when he turned fifteen. These vehicles are all beloved classic mid century design on a par with Eames chairs or Schindler architecture.  The modern movement was in its infancy and Southern California was the epicenter. Gas was $0.31 a gallon. It was on.

Back then cars were about sex, freedom, style, and independence. They were also about mobility and access. They were our social networking devices. They provided us with what teenagers and youth of today get from their Smartphones and the Web: connectivity.  But you can travel a lot farther, see more, and meet more people, with digital technology than you can with a car, and for a lot less money.

Fast-forward fifty years. Volvos are now about Safety, not Sex.  And we are faced with the problems and challenges that the car’s usurpation of much of our public space (and co-option of our lifestyle) has created.  In the 50’s suburban sprawl had not yet cast its spell all over America. Parking lots surrounded by chain link fences were not common in the hearts of cities.  Streetcar lines had not yet been ripped up by automobile companies. Regional shopping malls had not yet been created to lure people away from Main Street.  Traffic jams were the exception not the rule. We did not know anything about climate change or that cars would become (and still are) the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 1 and 34 and responsible for more deaths than all of our wars combined. And, to add insult to injury, cars would eventually all look about the same, getting big and boxy in shades of silver and black. We were asleep at the wheel while all this was going on.

It has not all been a one-way slide downwards since the 1960’s. When Kent and I were kids there was so much smog in LA that we were wheezing all through the summer. Lead was later removed from gas and the air quality improved dramatically. The environmental movement took shape.  A few mass transit systems, e.g. BART in the Bay Area, were funded. But it took decades before it occurred to us that we should try to make our cities amenable to us, not our cars.

Today, the “white flight” to the suburbs has been reversed with “bright flight” back to cities. Many Millennials and the youth are choosing to live without a dependence on cars and are exhibiting a true passion and connection for their communities.* Cities all round the world have radically improved their pedestrian infrastructure in the last few decades. Riding a bike has become mainstream in many cities.  The most recent email I’ve received from Kent is very hopeful:  “My daughter lives in downtown LA and rides her bike everywhere she needs to go.”

You are part of this change.  Thanks.

We have not come full circle, but we are making headway in many of our cities. And you are part of this progressive change. You have helped to make our cities more livable. You have also made us (PUBLIC) more livable – you have kept us in business into what is now our third year.  We feel lucky to be in a business that is predicated on positive social change and improved urban living and one that puts smiles on people’s faces. We hope that our bikes will bring you independence, connectivity, and some of the same sexiness and style that cars did half a century ago.

Thanks,

Rob

* To learn about this subject in detail from an expert, get Jeff Speck’s latest book Walkable City. Jeff is a leading spokesperson for more enlightened urban planning, the co-author of Suburban Nation, and witty and brilliant. We will have a review of this book next week.

Communities in the Saddle

September 6th, 2012

Most of our customers make a personal choice to get around or commute by bicycle. But the growing number of groups, companies, and even neighborhoods that encourage people to rethink how they move around also inspires us. Bikes get us to smile, but they also serve a valuable social function. All of the examples below… Read more »

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Most of our customers make a personal choice to get around or commute by bicycle. But the growing number of groups, companies, and even neighborhoods that encourage people to rethink how they move around also inspires us. Bikes get us to smile, but they also serve a valuable social function.

All of the examples below share one common thread – the bicycle is a simple and cost-effective way to create connections between people and places, while also taking care of the environment.

Some museums, like Masschusetts Museum of Contemporary Art provide bikes for their visitors to connect the museum with the surrounding area. MASS MoCa Jodi Joseph sums it up: “What better way to see the area?  An hour or two on a MASS MoCA bike rental can bring you to three world-class art museums, while you take in stunning Berkshire views, tackle truly accessible urban and rural riding, and you get in some good exercise.  Everyone wins!”

Residential communities are taking bikes seriously as well. For example, Grow Community, a neighborhood on Bainbridge Island, Washington provides a fleet of PUBLIC bikes for residents. Grow Community leaders recognize that a healthy community has sustainable transportation options that are not entirely dependent motor vehicles.

We love to see companies such as Clif Bar, Mozilla, AOL, Williams-Sonoma, Rackspace, and others provide our bikes for their employees. We produced custom bikes for Clif Bar’s 20th Anniversary giveaway to each employee. Mozilla offers fiery custom bikes for employees. Williams-Sonoma employees utilize our bikes to move between offices in San Francisco.  And many hotels, like Tribeca Grand Hotel on the Right Coast and Hotel Healdsburg on the Left Coast offer bikes for guests.

If you have other examples of enlightened groups and companies that are encouraging bicycling, please pass them onto us (or send us a photo as part of our contest). And please refer us to your company or any other groups that might be interested in the PUBLIC option.

PUBLIC Women’s Bike Clinic on Sept 13

August 30th, 2012

Back by popular demand, we’re organizing another Women’s Bike Clinic – but in Oakland! In 1-hour PUBLIC employee Jillian Betterly will teach you the basic mechanics of a bike. The purpose of this clinic is to help you understand basic mechanics of a bike with special emphasis on our PUBLIC bikes. Learn how your gearing… Read more »

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Back by popular demand, we’re organizing another Women’s Bike Clinic – but in Oakland!

In 1-hour PUBLIC employee Jillian Betterly will teach you the basic mechanics of a bike. The purpose of this clinic is to help you understand basic mechanics of a bike with special emphasis on our PUBLIC bikes. Learn how your gearing works, how to change a flat, best ways to lock your bike, and basic troubleshooting of brakes, chain and shifters. After the 1-hour workshop, stay longer for Q&A. It’s optional to bring your PUBLIC bike or your own bike. Jillian will spend the hour doing a demo on a PUBLIC bike & then can spend some time after the Q&A helping individuals with their bikes.

Thursday, September 13 (OPEN)
6:30-8pm
205 Alice Street @ 2nd near Jack London Square

This free clinic is limited to 25 women participants. Please send email to rsvp@publicbikes.com to reserve your spot.

If you cannot attend, sign up for our newsletter to hear about future clinics.

Fall Style

August 22nd, 2012

The last weeks of summer bring excitement for new fall fashion. We are thrilled to see the fashion world highlighting bikes, and Vogue recently featured our PUBLIC M8 “Fashion Cycles: The Best Bikes – and the Pre-Fall Looks That Go With Them”. Elle Décor featured our PUBLIC D8 in “Roll Models”. It’s just one more… Read more »

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The last weeks of summer bring excitement for new fall fashion. We are thrilled to see the fashion world highlighting bikes, and Vogue recently featured our PUBLIC M8 “Fashion Cycles: The Best Bikes – and the Pre-Fall Looks That Go With Them”. Elle Décor featured our PUBLIC D8 in “Roll Models”. It’s just one more positive sign that the US is embracing bikes for a range of everyday activities.

Katherine Bernard of Vogue guides you towards your bike style. “How will your fashion look on a cycle? Just as you might acquire pieces to complement a favorite new bag, it’s possible to build your ensemble around your bike.” Check out our gear selection to suit your style and spruce up your bike.

PUBLIC bikes are also featured this month in business publications. The Wall Street Journal recently featured Leah Shahum, our Executive Director of the San Francisco Bike Coalition in “Advocate’s Vision for a Bike Friendly City.” It’s a great interview as Leah is one of the most eloquent spokespeople for city biking, and we’re proud to see Leah featured on her orange PUBLIC M8 in national media.

Also check out yesterday’s NY Times article on the city’s support for bike lanes. We dig it.

 

Bike Shares Go Global

August 1st, 2012

We’re big fans of bike share programs. We believe that rising tides help all boats – and more people riding bikes, whether they’re using a bike share or riding their own personal bikes is good for everyone. As more people get on bikes, it raises awareness that biking can be a mainstream form of transportation… Read more »

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We’re big fans of bike share programs. We believe that rising tides help all boats – and more people riding bikes, whether they’re using a bike share or riding their own personal bikes is good for everyone. As more people get on bikes, it raises awareness that biking can be a mainstream form of transportation for everyone. That’s good for all of us.

Given our name PUBLIC, one of the obvious questions we get is whether our company develops bikes for bike share programs. The answer is no and yes.

No, we don’t produce bikes for citywide bike share programs because those programs require an entirely different supportive infrastructure and business model. It’s like the difference between producing a tank and a car – very different type of vehicle, specifications and infrastructure required.

But yes, we do provide bikes for private bike share programs for companies and hotels. For example, Williams-Sonoma employees use PUBLIC bikes to get around their four different locations. Hotels such as Hotel Healdsburg, James Hotel Chicago, Tribeca Grand Hotel, and Mondrian SoHo provide PUBLIC bikes for their guests to ride.  Find out more details.

We also provide bikes for outstanding bike rental and tour companies such as Streets of San Francisco in Hayes Valley and San Francisco Bike Rentals near the Ferry Building and Upper Haight.

We’ve been following the development of bike share programs around the world for many years. We’re delighted to see American cities such as Washington, DC, Chattanooga, and New York City follow the lead of world-class cities like Montreal, London, and Paris in implementing bike share programs. In the next year or so our very own San Francisco will hopefully launch its own bike share program.

 

Ultimate Bike Shop Challenge

July 13th, 2012

Are you a member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition? As many of you know, we founded PUBLIC with the belief that bicycles are an important part of a healthy, livable community. Good design, when applied to a bicycle, can inspire more people to get on bikes. But the best way to encourage more people… Read more »

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Are you a member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition?

As many of you know, we founded PUBLIC with the belief that bicycles are an important part of a healthy, livable community. Good design, when applied to a bicycle, can inspire more people to get on bikes. But the best way to encourage more people to get around by bicycle is to make our city streets more accessible and safer for the everyday bicyclist.

Clif Bar PUBLIC Bike

Kudos to the SF Bicycle Coalition for transforming many streets in San Francisco into safe places for bikes, including The Wiggle, Market Street, and Valencia Street. Look at some of the work they are currently doing with Connecting the City. This is why PUBLIC supports the 12,000+ member SF Bicycle Coalition  – and why we’re participating in the Ultimate Bike Shop Challenge with other local bike stores to see who can sell the most SF Bicycle Coalition memberships during the month of July.

If you’re already a member of SF Bicycle, thank you for investing in an organization that works to connect the city with safe, comfortable bikeways.

If you’re not a SF Bicycle Coalition member yet, you can join now for $35. Your membership will get you the Urban Bicyclists’ Survival Kit, a one-year subscription of SF Bicycle Coalition”s Tube Times newsletter, free bike trailer rentals, free admission to select events, and discounts at many local establishments – and you’ll help PUBLIC win the Ultimate Bike Shop Challenge!

UPCOMING SF BICYCLE COALITION EVENTS
Seven Hells of San Francisco Bike Ride

Seven Hells of San Francisco Bike Ride

On July 21 join fellow masochists on this ride over some of the steepest hills in the city. Two years ago a PUBLIC team member rode the Seven Hells ride on a PUBLIC M8 – and climbed 25-30% degree hills without walking. It was tough but it proved that you can climb just about any hill in the city on a PUBLIC. Read more about the Seven Hells ride. RSVP here.

Better Market Street

Improve Market Street

Most of us ride on Market Street. To make Market Street into a world-class boulevard, the city needs to make the street more bicycle, pedestrian, and transit friendly. We encourage you to attend upcoming community meetings about Market Street’s future.

Project Kickstand – Clif Bar’s 20th Anniversary

July 3rd, 2012

What’s the coolest thing a company can do for its employees? Often companies recognize hard working employees with monthly awards or free parking spaces. Other companies provide free lunches, extra days of vacation, or casual Fridays. Bay Area company Clif Bar took it up a big notch. They gave ALL of their employees a free… Read more »

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What’s the coolest thing a company can do for its employees? Often companies recognize hard working employees with monthly awards or free parking spaces. Other companies provide free lunches, extra days of vacation, or casual Fridays. Bay Area company Clif Bar took it up a big notch. They gave ALL of their employees a free custom bike inscribed with the individual’s name and the date they started working for the company. It was one of the greatest acts of corporate generosity for employees we have heard of and PUBLIC was proud to play a part.

Last December we started working on a special project called “Project Kickstand” for our friends at Clif Bar. Clif Bar Co-CEOs Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford wanted to surprise each of their 300+ employees with a custom PUBLIC bike as part of the company’s 20th Anniversary.

See more photos in our Clif Bar 20th Anniversary Facebook album.

Clif Bar PUBLIC Bike Clif Bar PUBLIC Bike Clif Bar PUBLIC Bike Clif Bar PUBLIC Bike

We took our PUBLIC V3 and painted it Clif Bar red with matching rims and rear racks, and added a Clif Bar logo head badge and message “Born on a Bike – Kitchen Crafted – Family & Employee Owned” on the frame. Each bike has a custom decal with the employee’s name and year they started working at Clif Bar.

Our PUBLIC team secretly delivered these bikes to a warehouse next to Clif Bar’s Emeryville headquarters. It was our privilege to bear witness to the surprise. Gary and Kit led the hundreds of employees around the block to the secret warehouse. After the doors opened, they invited their employees to a find a custom-made bike with their name on it.

As you can imagine, the scene was utter disbelief, joy, giddiness, and many tears. A Clif Bar employee captured raw footage of the experience.

We’re very proud (thrilled) to have produced and delivered these bikes for Clif Bar, a company  that we’ve long admired for putting community, people, and sustainability at the forefront of building a successful business.

Congratulations Gary, Kit, and the entire Clif Bar family.

We’re proud to add Clif Bar to our growing list of companies that have provided PUBLIC bikes for employees to use, including Williams-Sonoma, Mozilla, Square, AOL, PeopleBrowsr, Rackspace, and others.

Getting Local

June 27th, 2012

Getting around on a bike helps us all connect more closely with our communities. And buying local helps build a better civic connection between residents and local shops, craftsmen, farmers, chefs, and cafes. Urban farming is taking off. San Francisco recently (finally) changed the zoning laws that allow us to grow and sell local produce,… Read more »

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Getting around on a bike helps us all connect more closely with our communities. And buying local helps build a better civic connection between residents and local shops, craftsmen, farmers, chefs, and cafes. Urban farming is taking off. San Francisco recently (finally) changed the zoning laws that allow us to grow and sell local produce, a practice that has been gaining momentum across the country. We’d like to see more vacant lots get transformed into urban farms in residential neighborhoods. We encourage you to enjoy the local harvests by shopping at your farmers market. To find out what local goods we now offer, read on.

A large and lively farmers market takes place on Sundays down the street from our new Oakland Store. Come visit us and grab some local produce.

We think of ourselves as part of this “Livable Cities” movement, and so selling local products like honeys and jams makes sense.

BAY AREA BEE COMPANY
San Francisco based Bay Area Bee Company raises beehives with great care in locations across the Bay Area, even inside the city limits. Hive locations are selected based on food and water sources that encourage strong, healthy and productive colonies, and delicious honey. Come by our stores for a taste or buy directly online.

As we grow we plan to introduce more local goods, with a focus on our hometown San Francisco. If you know of products that support local communities, let us know. In the mean time, check out some of the new products we just introduced.

THESE ARE THINGS SAN FRANCISCO CITY MAP
Maps also increase our awareness and appreciation of our local community. We sell several maps with unique illustrations. From a tiny apartment in Ohio, These Are Things printing press designs illustrations with a cartographic twist. Jen Adrion and Omar Noory celebrate where they are from, have traveled, and dream of going. PUBLIC supports their local love for cities. The maps have a nice sense of place and look great in a home, office, or studio.

 

Special Bikes for Special Groups

May 30th, 2012

We like to find ways to work creatively with organizations that believe in our mission. It is incredibly satisfying to collaborate with companies and organizations that promote bicycling as a healthy choice for everyday transportation. We receive a lot of requests to donate a bike to a worthwhile cause like public broadcasting, community art centers,… Read more »

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We like to find ways to work creatively with organizations that believe in our mission. It is incredibly satisfying to collaborate with companies and organizations that promote bicycling as a healthy choice for everyday transportation. We receive a lot of requests to donate a bike to a worthwhile cause like public broadcasting, community art centers, and urban planning coalitions, just to name a few. While we are not in a position to give bikes away, we have found some clever and successful ways to support groups.

Our local Public Broadcasting NPR affiliate KQED is one example. We helped them raise over $170,000 for their pledge drive which featured PUBLIC bikes on Bike to Work Day two weeks ago. It was one of their most successful pledge drives. Grist, the environmental news website raised $72,000 for their membership drive featuring a PUBLIC bike. We did a similar promotion for the Sierra Club, who works to protect communities and the environment. Other organizations we’ve helped range from Streetsblog, Bike Zambia, Homeless PreNatal Program, California Bicycle Coalition, Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center, among others.

Developing special bikes for events is also fun. This month the ArtBikes auction at the San Francisco Fine Arts Fair featured PUBLIC Bikes to help raise $10,000 for our local San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. Earlier this year Creative Growth, a community art center for adults with mental and physical disabilities, auctioned a PUBLIC bike painted by artist Donald Mitchell and brought in $2,000.

We also customize large bike orders for organizations, hotels, and companies. Recently local Bay Area companies Williams-Sonoma and Mozilla, with support from our friends at Bikes Make Life Better, introduced employee bike share programs to help their employees get around more efficiently and more happily. They join a growing list of innovative, people-oriented companies that are rethinking the way their employees move between offices, corporate campuses, or around town.

If you work for a company or organization that you think should incorporate a bike fleet, read on for more information. And please do come to us with creative ideas for ways we can work together. Send us your ideas here.