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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

How Seville Rolls

Monday, April 6th, 2015

The many bikers of Seville.

“Seville is the poster child of the modern bicycle planning movement. Nothing less.”
- Copenhagenize

I was just in Seville, Spain (population 700K) to ride around, study the urban layout and better understand how Seville became a model for enlightened city transportation and a leader in the city bike movement.

The most unique thing about the people who ride bikes in Seville is that they are not very unique. Basically, everybody rides, just as everybody walks, and it’s not a big deal. You see musicians, parents with kids, fashionable women, old dudes hunched over smoking cigarettes, one legged guys, tourists, commuters, the entire gamut. It is the two-wheeled definition of pluralism and democracy.

A flashy fixie in Seville

In the 2013 Copenhagenize survey of the Most Bike Friendly Cities, Seville ranked 4th out of 20 top cities, behind the bike-friendly powerhouses of Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Utrecht. This prestigious ranking on the part of Seville is a result of great political vision and will.

It’s a vision that’s very much in line with that of the Making Cities Liveable movement, a movement that focuses on “designing urban cities in a way that enriches the quality of everyday life of the city’s inhabitants.” Basically, Sevillanos were fed up with the noise, traffic and pollution generated by cars and buses and wanted a more liveable city where they could interact and live more openly.

The city officials heard their concerns and changes were made. Bike share programs were implemented and buses were replaced by light rail. (Horse drawn carriages were allowed to stay.) The results of these changes were impressive. The bike share program in Seville rose in usage from .5% in 2006 to 7% in 2013, according to Copenhagenize. And there is now over 180 miles of pleasant green bike track to ride along. I rode along it and was impressed by the robustness of it and high amount of usage.

Cool bike dividers, left. Seville's bike share bikes, right.

Safety is always a key issue in biking. Curvy lanes go all around Seville, sometimes in parallel with sidewalks and sometimes crossing streets. Yet to keep things safe, there are cool little concrete markers and abundant signage.

Sane and respectful crosswalks of Seville.

In addition to the signage, people in Seville seem to have respect for pedestrians. Cars don’t whiz around at high speeds nor do they assume that their rights are more important than others. And everybody observes crosswalks. You will note that few cyclists wear helmets (a fact that’s true for most cities where infrastructure is set up to respect cyclists). Kids under 16 are required to wear helmets. It’s just very sane and civilized.

Seville isn’t new to this transportation thing. Magellan embarked from Spain on his first voyage to circumnavigate the globe. And while the miles of bike lanes in Seville aren’t enough for global navigation, it’s impressive to see how this Spanish city has made incredible strides in biking infrastructure and urban planning. It’s a place of civility and quality, and in my mind one of the most modern city designs in the world.

Happy riding and traveling,

Rob Forbes

Rob an his rented mixte at the Andalusian Center for Contemporary Art, Seville.

 

Snow & Tell: Snow Informing How We Use Public Space

Monday, January 12th, 2015

When we think of snow, many of us think about snowboarding, sledding, or a beautiful natural winter landscape.

But another cool (pun intended) feature of snow is how it acts as an “urban usage map.” The way cars make tracks around and through snow shows how much public space is used and unused by cars. Is there room for sidewalk extensions for pedestrians? Could car lanes be narrowed or median greening be added? Snow can literally show us the answer.

This video from Streetsfilm does a great job explaining how snow can reveal a lot about mobility and how public spaces are utilized in cities.

As Clarence Eckerson from Streetsfilm told the BBC: “The snow is almost like nature’s tracing paper. It’s free. You don’t have to do a crazy expensive traffic calming study. It provides a visual cue into how people behave.”

Through the visual storytelling in the article “What Snow Tells Us About Creating Better Public Spaces on E. Passyunk Avenue” you can see how snowfall in Philadelphia informs how public space could be better utilized. Notice how much public space could be rededicated to people over cars.

A phenomenon of urban snowfall is naturally created “sneckdowns,” or snow neckdowns. A neckdown is a curb extension, a traffic calming measure that involves sidewalk widening, narrowing car roads and making streets wider for pedestrians. The word “sneckdown” is a play on the concept of neckdown, but with snow.

For more on the phenomena of sneckdowns check out this article one Streetsfilm.

So when you’re walking, biking, or driving around in the your city during or after snowfall, pay attention to the snow on the ground. It might tell you a lot about how your streets and public spaces could be changed to make them more people-friendly.

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.

PUBLIC Talk: Amy Wibowo on Traveling with Bicycle

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

 

Two years ago Amy got her first bike ever, a limited edition PUBLIC C7 step-through she named Peppermint Patty. After learning how to ride in San Francisco, Amy packed up her PUBLIC bike and PUBLIC Twin Pannier bags for a grand adventure riding and camping all over Europe with a friend, from the forests of Finland to fields of lavender in the French countryside. Everywhere she met helpful, friendly folks and turned plenty of heads with her free-spirited style. You can read all about her travels with Peppermint Patty on her blog, which is full of beautiful photography and helpful tips on how to plan your own bike adventures.

Bikes In The Woods / Image courtesy of Amy Wibowo

Bikes In The Woods / Photo Courtesy of Amy Wibowo

We love Amy’s story because she’s such an inspiration, showing how much fun anybody can have just by hopping on a bike and riding somewhere new. Although we didn’t have international bike touring in mind when we designed our PUBLIC C7 bike, we’re glad that its simple, relaxed style worked just as well for Amy when she was cruising around Europe as it does getting her across town in San Francisco.

We’re really excited to host a special event with Amy Wibowo at our new San Francisco flagship store in Hayes Valley, next Wednesday August 13. She’ll give a talk about how anybody can have an epic bike adventure without needing a bunch of fancy gear, and she even made a really cool zine full of bike travel tips (shown left). Meet Amy and get your own free copy of her zine at our event Wednesday night, details below.

WHAT: PUBLIC Talk: Amy Wibowo on Traveling with Bicycle
WHERE: PUBLIC Bikes, 549 Hayes Street (between Octavia and Laguna)
WHEN: Wednesday, August 13 from 6pm-8pm

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

They Don’t Come Back

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Image courtesy of wellandgoodnyc.com

I was in New York earlier this month and rode from my Chelsea hotel through downtown and over the Brooklyn Bridge to visit our dealer, Joe Nocella who runs 718 Cyclery in Brooklyn. Riding in New York keeps getting better and better with excellent signage, more riders and respectful taxi drivers. Well, at least two of those three statements are true. Honestly now, riding in New York is a pleasure compared to most other cities. And riding over the Brooklyn Bridge is epic, even more so than our Golden Gate Bridge because of its history.

Joe’s bike shop, 718 Cyclery is cool – really cool. Joe calls it the “inverted” bike shop, meaning that they turned the concept of the traditional bike store upside down. His innovations range from teaching bike classes, working on bikes with customers, and creating an atmosphere that is super customer friendly, the way your neighborhood café is.

718 Cyclery Inside View

718 Cyclery does high-end custom bikes, everyday city bikes, and everything in between. Joe has been selling a lot of our bikes for years. When I asked him why, he said, “They don’t come back”. Basically, the quality is such that customers don’t return with the quality problems that plague other city bikes. We love getting these compliments, and we love having bike professional like Joe getting our bikes out on the streets where they belong.

We select our bike dealers the way we design our bikes – with great attention to detail. While out bikes rarely “come back” for quality problems, they need servicing and tune ups, and all of us need our local bike shop. For a list of other great dealers click here.

Header image courtesy of wellandgoodnyc.com.

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.