Bikes Are Big in the Big Apple

December 2nd, 2010

Sacha White of Vanilla Sacha White of Vanilla Richard Sachs Dario Pegoretti Mike Flanagan of A.N.T. Mike Flanagan of A.N.T. Peter Weigle Jeff Jones Photo credits: Bespoke bicycle photos from Museum of Art and Design We are declaring May “Bike Design Month” in Manhattan. Mayor Bloomberg has not signed off on this title yet, but… Read more »

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Sacha White of Vanilla


Sacha White of Vanilla


Richard Sachs

Dario Pegoretti
Dario Pegoretti


Mike Flanagan of A.N.T.


Mike Flanagan of A.N.T.


Peter Weigle

Jeff Jones
Jeff Jones

Photo credits: Bespoke bicycle photos from Museum of Art and Design

We are declaring May “Bike Design Month” in Manhattan. Mayor Bloomberg has not signed off on this title yet, but as his office has been actively supporting progressive smart alternative transportation, he probably won’t mind our rogue designation. There are two events of note:

1) Bespoke: The Handbuilt Bicycle at the Museum of Art and Design opens on May 13th. Michael Maharam (interview below) of textile fame and master bike builder Sacha White have put together a superb exhibition of contemporary handmade bikes.

2) The launch of PUBLIC in and around the ICFF. Join a bunch of us on a festive bike ride on May 16th from Javits to SOHO for a reception at the Tretorn Store. Please RSVP online.

Interview with Michael Maharam

Bespoke: The Handbuilt Bicycle displays the designs of six internationally renowned bicycle builders at the Museum of Arts & Design. Organized by Michael Maharam and master bicycle builder Sacha White, the exhibit explores emerging trends and innovations in the design world. We caught up with Michael earlier this week.

Rob: It’s great to see this work made available in the museum context. Congrats. Is this the first show of its type in the US?

Michael: As far as I know, yes….and long overdue. This is a fine craft, like glassblowing or cabinetmaking, though with an element of daily functionality and cultural timeliness which is highly relevant and greatly underexposed.

How did the idea for the show evolve?
I had asked Sacha White to build me a bicycle, and we got into a discussion about the fact that he had been building for a decade and wanted to take a break for a year to focus on building a small number of carefully considered bicycles without client or commercial constraint. I was having lunch with Holly Hotchner, the director of MAD that week, and I proposed to organize and curate a show based on Sacha’s desire.

What would make the show success to you?
Ultimately, raising public awareness of the craft, consumer understanding and expectation of the quality of products they purchase and compelling manufacturers to do a better job with quotidian products is critical if we are to transcend the era of material gluttony.

The designers are all from the US except Dario Pegoretti. How did the US become such a force in bike design?
Though this is a craft which has had numerous “golden ages”, its present appeal is as a force of zeitgeist. Underlying elements include the rise of physical fitness, environmentalism and individualism as points of cultural aspiration and expression.

What’s the first thing you look for in a bike?
I’m an aesthete…appearance coupled with the imagination and finesse of the builder.

What is the first thing the untrained eye should look for in a bike?
Comfort.

Do you remember the first bike you ever rode?
Rudge three speed…black, with gold trim. I removed the fenders to make a hot rod of it, come what may on rainy days.

What kind of riding do you do personally? Ever been a racer?
I’m a fair weather rider these days…commuting a bit and weekend exercise. Riding in Manhattan is misery enough, but to do so in rain and cold is beyond the fray. My hat is off to those who do.

Ever ridden a fixed gear bike?
Often, but not the variety presently in vogue. Through my young years I’ve built stripped down bicycles with a minimalistic bent. Again, it’s largely about Manhattan riding…hardly serene.

Many see as you as uncompromising modernist. What is your personal interest in handmade bicycles? Aren’t they craft?
I view modernism as the most fitting backdrop for all that I collect…and sell, as we sell our collection of textiles, which facilitates personal collecting. If I were a fan of baroque architecture, I’d only collect minimalism I suppose. Modernism soothes.

I recall in one of our early conversations, maybe ten years ago, you rode a motorcycle. I did not know you were also a cyclist. This phenomenon is actually common, i.e. guys loving things with two wheels. What’s behind this love? Love of Speed?
A young man’s first taste of independence.

Is there a “Ray and Charles Eames” equivalent in the bike design world?
I like the Raleigh Three Speed, myself. I think it’s elegant and practical. Though classic, not modern. As for modern, the phosphorescent shaft driven urban bicycles produced by Biomega are pretty smart.

What’s the most unusual bike in your collection?
I like my all aluminum Colnago Duall…polished aluminum lugs, unpainted aluminum tubes…very sculptural, though not very rigid.

If I was one of your staff, would you allow me to keep my bike in your office if I rode it to work? You keep a pretty clean office.
Not yet, but we’re working on it.

Rob: Thanks, Michael. We’ll see you in New York.

Share your thoughts.
Join the conversation in the comments below.

Orange Towers and Fat Books

December 1st, 2010

Two ”monuments” dedicated to the public space came on my radar screen this week. The first was Coit Tower, seen here from my deck illuminated in orange to honor of the San Francisco Giants playing in the World Series. It makes us smile, and it brings focus to an important architectural icon in the city…. Read more »

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Coit Tower lit up in orange

Coit Tower lit up in orange

'The High Cost of Free Parking' by Donald Shoup

'The High Cost of Free Parking' by Donald Shoup

Donald Shoup in Paris

Donald Shoup in Paris

Two ”monuments” dedicated to the public space came on my radar screen this week. The first was Coit Tower, seen here from my deck illuminated in orange to honor of the San Francisco Giants playing in the World Series. It makes us smile, and it brings focus to an important architectural icon in the city. The other monument is a massive 737-page tome that arrived on my desk called, The High Cost of Free Parking by Donald Shoup. What do they have in common?

Shoup’s book and the Orange Coit Tower help us look at our public spaces from a fresh perspective and to consider their value and potential in our daily lives. How do we assess the real value of public spaces in our cities anyway? What is Golden Gate or Central Park worth to us? What about the value of the common everyday sidewalk or street corner where people congregate? How about a public bench, beach, train station, bike path or dog park? These are heady issues without easy answers. Social economics is tricky like that, and usually gets left to academics. I guess that’s why it takes 737 pages to give the subject of free parking its fair due. An advertising person might simply reduce it down to “Think Differently,” like Apple does.

Shoup’s persuasive premise is that free parking is the great blind spot of American local politics. We agree. We have remarked on this in our own modest way in the past, for example our That Blind Spot post. Rarely do we share quotes, but take a minute to absorb these poignant reviews.

“Free parking is like a fertility drug for cars. Many people don’t realize how much of the high price of housing is due to requirements by local governments that a certain number of parking spaces must be provided. These costs are paid by everyone, including those who don’t own a car.”

“In this revelatory, revolutionary book, UCLA professor Donald Shoup persuasively explains why almost everything we are told about parking either by professional planning experts or by ‘common sense’ is wrong, and argues that current parking policies constitute the greatest planning disaster in human history.”

“Shoup points out that if we decided that gasoline should be free, the result we would expect would be obvious: people would drive too much, shortages of gasoline would develop, fights would break out over scarce gas, and governments would go broke trying to pay for it all. Parking is no different. Providing free parking leads to overuse, shortages, and conflicts over parking. Cash-strapped local governments and neighborhoods lose out too.”


“I was stunned to find out that in some neighborhoods up to 90% of the traffic has been found to be people cruising around looking for a place to park. Charging the right price for parking according to local demand can get rid of this problem.”

How many of us have the patience to read a 737-page book? How can we bridge the gap between academic work and public awareness? Should we paint parking spots orange, pile up a bunch of Shoup’s books in a parking space? Events like Park(ing) Day help raise awareness. An easier route might be to join “The Shoupistas” on Facebook. We need more creative minds think progressively about public space, like the city planner who dreamt of celebratory Orange Towers.

One action we can take today is to Vote Tomorrow for legislation to improve the quality of our public space. If you live in California, a “No” vote on big oil-funded Prop. 23 is a “No” brainer. If you live in San Francisco’s western and northern neighborhoods, vote “Yes” for Bert Hill on the BART Board. We don’t usually endorse individuals, but transit advocate Bert Hill has unimpeachable professional credentials and a demeanor such that he teaches bicycle safety as avocation. His David vs. Goliath battle against the incumbent can be viewed here.

Free Shipping on All Bikes in stock through November 16th

Contest for Everyone. Even Students.

We are giving away two bikes as part of our PUBLIC J7 and PUBLIC A7 launch, and there is a special program for college students. Please forward this page with details about our contest to your friends and family.

Fall Blues Festival

All blue PUBLIC Ds at 20% off
We’ve got more Blue diamond-frame bikes (D1, D3, and D8) than we have room for in our warehouse, and we need to make space for new bikes coming in mid-November. For a limited time, we’re offering a special on our blue diamond bikes in single, 3, and 8 speeds, in all sizes. See our Fall Blues page for details.

 

Our PUBLIC Contest Winners

November 23rd, 2010

We had a tough time choosing the winners of our PUBLIC Contest for a new PUBLIC J7 or PUBLIC A7 among so many impressive, thoughtful, and creative entries. We received entries from all over the country from Muscle Shoals, AL to Sarasota, FL to Flat Rock, MI. We had both a contest for university students… Read more »

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We had a tough time choosing the winners of our PUBLIC Contest for a new PUBLIC J7 or PUBLIC A7 among so many impressive, thoughtful, and creative entries. We received entries from all over the country from Muscle Shoals, AL to Sarasota, FL to Flat Rock, MI.

We had both a contest for university students and a general contest for everyone else. And we even decided to give away a third PUBLIC bike to a student from UC Berkeley where we received the most university entries. Our Grand Prize winners all received new PUBLIC bikes and the second prize winners received PUBLIC accessories and gear.

Here are our PUBLIC Contest winners (read the winning submissions below):

Grand Prize PUBLIC Contest Winner

Mark Schafer
Knoxville, Tennessee

Grand Prize University Contest Winners

Marieke Van Damme
Boston University
Boston, Massachusetts

Michal Kapitulnik
UC Berkeley
Berkeley, California

Second Prize Contest Winners

Kate Woodrow
Berkeley, California

Sandra Edwards
New York, New York

Karen Krutch
Florence, Alabama

Heidi Easudes
Phoenix, Arizona

Stephanie Holder
Oakland, California

Leslie Bloom
San Luis Obispo, Calfornia

David Kwan
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Matt Wholey
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Hannah Halliday
State College, Pennsylvania

Mary Hosch
Convington, Louisiana

Grand Prize Winning Submissions

Mark Schafer
Knoxville, TN

Please view the illustrated version of my entry.

A 90-Minute Bicycle Trip in Knoxville, Tennessee
–Starring PUBLIC and Me–

Stop #1
MY HOUSE
We would begin our ride west of town at my house, traveling on roads and PUBLIC greenways towards Downtown.

Stop #2
NEYLAND STADIUM
Home of the Tennessee Vols. It is here that you would discover why you should open a bike shop in Knoxville selling only your orange bikes!

Stop #3
THE SUNSPHERE
No, it’s not actually a wig shop as shown on the Simpsons, but it’s the define mark of the Knoxville skyline and features a great view of the city!

Stop #4
RACHMANINOFF STATUE
A bit random, but this cool monument memorializes the great pianist’s last PUBLIC concert! (it was in Knoxville)

Stop #5
MARKET SQUARE
Perhaps Knoxville’s best PUBLIC space, this is where our bike ride would end with an energizing meal from the farmers’ market or a great local eatery like the Tomato Head. Over lunch, we’d discuss…

MY QUESTIONS ABOUT BIKES & BIKING
Question #1
How do you encourage bike riding when things where you live are pretty far apart?

Question #2
To transform my commute, is my only option to sell my house, move, and get a new job?

Question #3
What would you suggest to improve biking in Knoxville?

I would then say, “Thank you” for taking a bike ride in my city.

THE END

Marieke Van Damme
Boston University
Boston, Massachusetts

(Note! From “A” to “Z”):

Ahoy! Boston’s a great town to explore by PUBLIC bicycle. Climb on with me at Boston University. Down we go. Esplanade first. Fenway coming up. Great place to grab a bite, this place called Lower Depths. Hot dogs for a dollar. I like mine with mac and cheese. Just in time to beat the campus rush.

Kenmore’s the name of this area. Lansdowne Street is our way out of here, where all the home run balls fall. Mothers Rest marks the start of a lovely string of parks with a pleasant bike path. Now we head uphill, so change gears. On past the Museum of Fine Arts. Pedal! Quixotic this trip is not.

Round the Riverway, where our tires send acorns somersaulting. Soon we plateau at a pond where boats wobble in the breeze. The path around is nice, but no biking allowed. Used to be able to swim here, too. Veer with me instead onto the street where my apartment is.

Xerxes once halted his army for a week to admire a sycamore. You and I can’t do that, we’ve got studying to do. Zoom back downhill when you’re done; I’ll bike in tomorrow.

Michal Kapitulnik
UC Berkeley
Berkeley, California

left, left, straight. stop. look under your left shoe. right, straight. right, hang right, stop. look straight ahead. left, left, straight. stop. right, veer left, straight, stop. look to your left. straight, 2nd right, straight, stop. look over your right shoulder. straight, right, right, third left, stop. snacks. straight (riding more slowly) third right, stop. nap.

DIY Urbanism

September 6th, 2010

PUBLIC will have one of our bicycles displayed at SPUR’s exhibit “Rebar. And there’s a fun opening party with food and drinks on Sept. 7: Buy tickets here We hope to see you at the opening party!

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PUBLIC will have one of our bicycles displayed at SPUR’s exhibit “DIY Urbanism: Testing the grounds for social change.”

Here’s the official exhibit description from SPUR:

“Since the onset of the ‘great recession’ in 2008, San Francisco, like many American cities, has struggled through a period of economic decline and drastically reduced public resources. Fortunately for San Francisco, a city with a long history of entrepreneurship and social activism, citizens have displayed great wherewithal and ingenuity in the face of budgetary stalemates—resulting in an outpouring of innovative do-it-yourself projects ranging from activating stalled construction sites, to constructing temporary public plazas and parks at street intersections, to designing pop-up storefronts, to creating a national forest in the heart of the Tenderloin. DIY Urbanism provides a snapshot of this burgeoning and distinctively local movement, and explores the meeting grounds between the bottom-up approach of DIY urbanists and the traditional top-down planning process.”

The exhibit will last from September 7-October 29, 2010. The exhibit is curated by Ruth Keffer and designed by our friends from Rebar.

And there’s a fun opening party with food and drinks on Sept. 7:

DIY URBANISM EVENT DETAILS
Tuesday, September 7, 2010, 6-9 pm
SPUR Urban Center
654 Mission Street, San Francisco
Admission: $10-$20 sliding scale
Buy tickets here

We hope to see you at the opening party!

Quantifying Civilization

July 9th, 2010

I took a break from the VELOCITY 2010 conference and rode to the Copenhagen street corner billed as the busiest intersection in the city. A meter there counts the number of bikes that pass by as they cross the bridge. 27 cyclists cruised by during one light change; 15,000 in all on that day; and… Read more »

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I took a break from the VELOCITY 2010 conference and rode to the Copenhagen street corner billed as the busiest intersection in the city. A meter there counts the number of bikes that pass by as they cross the bridge. 27 cyclists cruised by during one light change; 15,000 in all on that day; and 1,815,570 so far this year. Quite cool. The stream of cyclists felt like the very definition of freedom and self-reliance. And people looked happy and alive as they pedaled along on their way to work or school—it was a collective experience of a high order. I submit that this counter is as good a “civilization meter” as anything that history has provided.

Traditionally we have used other data to decide what makes a great civilization.

If cultural output is the yardstick, Egypt and Classical Greece are looking pretty good. But did enough of the community share in the greatness? If civilian enlightenment is the measure, China during the Sung dynasty (9th Century) comes out well: their civil servants had to pass tests that included writing poetry and painting landscapes. What about those who never took the test?

The US considers itself highly civilized based on education standards, citing statistics about how many people have college degrees. But Native Americans – who greatly value their connection to nature – might see things a bit differently.

Whichever aspect of civilization you value more, it seems fundamental that a truly civilized society has to be one in which the greatest number of people feel safe and secure as they move around and congregate in their public spaces. This is where life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness take place, where they are visible. And you can judge the greatness of a city by the percentage of people using and enjoying the public spaces.

This brings us to bikes.

No need for a mini-van hereThe Danes consider themselves as civilized as it gets. They take pride in their egalitarian and democratic principles, and they have become tireless advocates of rights for pedestrians and cyclists. More than one third of Danes ride a bike everyday to school or work. They have become synonymous with cycling (along with the Dutch). Over the last 50 years they have weaned themselves away from cars in urban areas, and they have increased the amount of public spaces devoted to pedestrians, cyclists, sidewalk cafes, etc. Denmark now leads the Livable Cities initiatives internationally. And they can quantify the advance of their civilization:

  • 16% of all transportation trips taken in Denmark are by bike
  • 45% of all kids ride a bike to school everyday
  • 25% of all parents bike their toddlers around the cities
  • 20% fewer bike injuries have occurred as cycling has increased 20% in recent years
  • 9% of the population in Denmark suffers from obesity
  • (30% of the US population suffers from obesity. We ‘lead’ the world in this metric)

Warehouse Sale this Saturday

If you happen to be in the Bay Areas next week, please come to our first ever warehouse sale. We’ll have bikes, samples and all kinds of things. The location is right on Harrison Street. See more details on our Sample Sale.

David Byrne’s “Creation in Reverse” at TED

June 18th, 2010

We’re fans of David Byrne for all the cultural stuff he churns out and we think his Bicycle Diaries is a brilliant form of advocacy. We’ve written about him before.  And we’re fans of TED.  Both have quite special websites. We just received a note from his office: “My own [TED] talk (it wasn’t a… Read more »

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We’re fans of David Byrne for all the cultural stuff he churns out and we think his Bicycle Diaries is a brilliant form of advocacy. We’ve written about him before.  And we’re fans of TED.  Both have quite special websites. We just received a note from his office:

“My own [TED] talk (it wasn’t a musical performance) was based on the idea that the acoustic properties of the clubs, theaters and concert halls where our music might get performed determines to a large extent the kind of music we write. We semi unconsciously create music that will be appropriate to the places in which it will most likely be heard. Put that way it sounds obvious…but most people are surprised that creativity might be steered and molded by such mundane forces. I go further – it seems humans aren’t the only ones who do this, who adapt our music to sonic circumstances – birds do it too. I play lots of sound snippets as examples, with images of the venues accompanying them…Enjoy.”

Byrne’s talk is also available as video podcast, downloadable free from the iTunes store.

The First Lady of Livable Cities

June 7th, 2010

Meet Janette Sadik-Khan I was lucky enough to meet and interview the First Lady of Livable Cities, Janette Sadik-Khan (and NY Times profile) in New York last month. (Her actual title is Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation.) Sadik-Khan oversees the way people get around in the Big Apple.  It’s one of… Read more »

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Meet Janette Sadik-Khan

Janette Sadik-KahnI was lucky enough to meet and interview the First Lady of Livable Cities, Janette Sadik-Khan (and NY Times profile) in New York last month. (Her actual title is Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation.) Sadik-Khan oversees the way people get around in the Big Apple.  It’s one of those jobs that is a little hard to get your head around: she manages 793 bridges and over 300,000 streetlights on a daily basis.  And there are impromptu events everyday. For example, we watched President Obama land in his chopper from her 9th floor window office and the ensuing traffic problems as a result of his motorcade. No two days are the same.

I am a big fan because she has done more to make US cities livable than any recent person we know.  You’re welcome to challenge me on that in the comments below. I would be happy to meet another person in the US who surpasses her in accomplishments.

Consider these recent New York City milestones:

  • Transforming Times Square into a pedestrian zone
  • 200 miles of on street bike lanes
  • 1200 new outdoor bicycle racks
  • 600 signs to guide cyclists
  • 35% increase in commuter cycling from 2007–2008.  Think about that. 35%.

The changes she brought about in New York set an example for other smaller, less complex urban environments. You only have to go to Manhattan and pedal around to appreciate what these accomplishments mean.  You can get almost anywhere in New York City pretty easily.  And riding across one of the bridges is a real thrill.

Her actions and leadership make so much sense in light of the BP Gulf Coast debacle. We can chastise BP and “Big Oil” all we want. But as long as our society maintains the current rate of oil consumption, we should can expect more disasters to occur.  Sadik-Khan’s rationale for reducing cars in the city has less to do with preventing future natural disasters and more to do with solving immediate and pragmatic urban issues of congestion and mobility.

According to Sadik-Khan, “projections show that one million more people are expected to move to New York City over the next 20 years.  Mayor Bloomberg’s plan for the city recognizes that the only way to accommodate that growth is to improve public transit and make cycling a real transportation option for New Yorkers.”

It is great to see a woman in a leadership position like this.  US transportation design culture (cars, bikes, trains) has traditionally been male dominated. Robert Moses might have his own opinion.

Hear Sadik-Khan and join PUBLIC in Copenhagen

If you get a chance to meet or hear Janette Sadik-Khan talk, it’s worth it.   Later this month she’ll be addressing an international audience at VELO City in Copenhagen. We’ll be there too, so come ride with us.

Meet the PUBLIC Contest Winners

May 10th, 2010

Congratulations to the PUBLIC contest winners. We thought we’d share some of the winners below so you can see the diversity and creativity of entries.  And a huge thank you to everyone who entered. But first, the winners… Grand Prize Winner, PUBLIC M3 Lauren Gerrie New York City, New York Chef. Artist. Observer. 1st Runner… Read more »

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Congratulations to the PUBLIC contest winners. We thought we’d share some of the winners below so you can see the diversity and creativity of entries.  And a huge thank you to everyone who entered. But first, the winners…

Grand Prize Winner, PUBLIC M3

Lauren Gerrie
New York City, New York
Chef. Artist. Observer.

1st Runner up

Brandi Adams
Washington, DC
Advisor. Reader. Believer in Good Design.

2nd Runner up

Curt Nickisch
Boston, Massachusetts
Radio journalist. Outdoorsman. Soccer fan.

3rd Runner up

Marisa Gaggino
Royal Oak, Michigan
Antique shop owner. Blogger. Detroit Lover.

Honorable Mention

Amanda Moon
Austin, Texas
Photographer. Furniture connoisseur. Bacon enthusiast

Don Stevenson
Charlottesville, Virginia
Editor. Family man. Treehouse idealist.

Mary Lucking
Phoenix, Arizona
Artist. Biker. Enigma.

Shawn Turner
Carmichael, California
Illustrator. Teacher. Swimmer.

Brandon Cole
Chicago, Illinois
Editor. Tuff. Cat-daddy.

Jim Ventosa
Baltimore, Maryland
Husband. Father. Nerd.

Jason Nifong
Lexington, North Carolina
Dad. Son. Cycling Enthusiast.

And now, the winning entries…

Lauren Gerrie

Ride-63:00
I am always early.
9th Street Espresso. Iced red eye.

60:00
You arrive. Introductions and firm handshakes are exchanged.

55:00
My iced beverage sits in a cup holder centered on the handlebars of my vintage burgundy Panasonic 10 speed.

We’re off.
Buying groceries for a dinner party my company, bigLITTLE Get Together, is hosting this evening.

50:00
Union Square Farmers Market: Ramps. Ronny Brook Butter. Fennel. Pears. Rooftop Honey

38:00
Bleeker Street between 6th and 7th Avenue.
Murray’s Cheese: Mascarpone.
Lobster Place: Mussels

30:00
First Avenue between 5th and 6th St.
Tinto Fino: Mar De Vinas Albariño. Muga Rosé

22:00
Houston between Orchard and Allen.
Russ & Daughters: Walnuts. Dried Strawberries

15:00
Avenue B between 2nd and 3rd Street.
Sigmund Pretzels: Classic Salt

8:00
3rd Street between Avenue C and D
My apartment.
Lock up.
Unload baskets.
Walk up six flights of stairs.
Unpack groceries and begin to make dinner.

Menu:

Roasted Ramp Compound Butter with Soft Pretzels
Albariño Mussels with Fennel
Whipped Mascarpone with Black Pepper Poached Pears and Honey
Toasted Walnuts and Dried Strawberries paired with Rose

Brandi Adams
Washington, DC

Were you to come with me for a bike ride that could only last an hour, you might expect a whirlwind tour through Washington DC: a ride past at the Capitol building, a moment at the White House in the hopes of seeing the President himself, or a long ride around the reflecting pool on an early evening when cherry blossoms have fully bloomed, their pedals following your bike in a cotton candy stream.

No. I would take you to none of these places.

Instead, we would go to a little known part of town, Petworth, and ride east to quiet, stately grounds.  The guard at the gate would wave us in as we were just there to take in the landscape and green quiet of the Armed Forces Retirement Home.

During my first visit  I got lost walking the grounds and several retired soldiers stopped to talk and direct me on my way.

One gentleman said, “This would be easier if you weren’t on foot.”

I couldn’t help but agree. With a bike we could examine history through landscape, architecture and humanity with friendly avuncular men with stories that we would otherwise never hear.

Curt Nickisch
Boston, Massachusetts

We’d start where I live and pedal through the Arnold Arboretum, a swatch of rolling hills of exotic trees in Harvard’s care for 137 years.  Then we’d spin out and along Centre Street in Boston’s Jamaica Plain, a collection of urban neighborhoods whose Victorian tripledecker homes recall the history of this country neighborhood for old Boston.

This route swings us past the original Samuel Adams brewery and around to Jamaica Pond, the only natural pond in Suffolk County and the source of ice – and skating competitions – during the 1800s.

Then we’d coast down the bike path along the Emerald Necklace, a string of parks designed by the first landscape architect Frederick Olmsted, then past Fenway Park and on to the bike path that nudges the Charles River for miles.

We’d skirt the water along the Esplanade, pedaling easily with the breeze that pushes a flock of sailboats, around to where that ‘dirty water’ empties into the harbor and we can admire the Bunker Hill Monument over in Charleston, (where one of my ancestors gave his life in that battle for our great democracy).   Finally, we’d ride into the North End to savor a valedictory cannoli!

Marisa Gaggino
Royal Oak, Michigan

Detroit must be seen on bike to appreciate its fragile, tough beauty.  We would start at Eastern Market, a 100+ year old farmer’s market and head south to the Dequindre Cut, a newly paved bike path through what was once a rail line, the remains are covered in spectacular and changing graffiti. We head west along the Detroit Riverwalk, where enlightened leadership saw fit to make preserve the river as public asset instead of a wasteland.  First we have to weave through some of the oldest brick streets, lined with the remains of industrial facilities with names like Stroh’s and Packard, across the international waterway Hiram Walker in Windsor.  Landscaping is indigenous plants, morel mushrooms even! And benches! Now people can actually linger and watch the boats go by.  What a thing to see Detroiters smiling at one another. A quick trip along Jefferson leads us to Belle Isle, an island in the middle of the river, across a bridge we can see the elegant 20’s country club, boathouse, the magnificent beaux arts fountain, conservatory and aquarium. This is a migratory pattern and flying over our heads, are geese, ducks, and there’s swan and herons in the pond, deer nearby. Folks are fishing in the river and having huge family barbecues. The meadow’s up ahead, the city completely disappears, past a monument and at the end we look out to the river’s mouth and the vast sparkling waters of Lake St. Clair.

The PUBLIC Contest Winner: Lauren Gerrie

May 10th, 2010

“Oftentimes people will ask if it is hard to ride a bike in heels. It’s not,” Lauren says. “In fact, it makes wearing heels that much easier because your feet hurt less from not having to walk around. I put together my outfits based around the assumption that I will be riding my bike. This… Read more »

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Contest Winner: Lauren Gerrie“Oftentimes people will ask if it is hard to ride a bike in heels. It’s not,” Lauren says. “In fact, it makes wearing heels that much easier because your feet hurt less from not having to walk around. I put together my outfits based around the assumption that I will be riding my bike. This opens my world of options up tenfold. I tell you what, a girl cannot stand/walk around this city in 4″ stilettos for that long, but she sure as hell can ride in them for hours on end.”

Meet Lauren Gerrie. She is our kind of PUBLIC advocate. And winner of the PUBLIC contest.

She came to New York to dance professionally and later co-founded her own company, bigLITTLE Get Together, to provide contemporary urban cuisine for unique occasions. The bigLITTLE team use their bicycles for their shopping adventures.

Lauren cruises Lower Manhattan by bicycle because it’s economical and faster than other modes of transport. She even commutes at 5 am to her other job as pastry chef in Williamsburg at Marlow & Sons/Diner. From her East Village apartment, she crosses the bridge and gets to work in seven minutes door to door, while enjoying the silence and beauty of a city that is mostly still asleep.

What does Lauren like to do for fun? Lauren says, “Late night rides with a pack of friends, everyone decked out in the their finest threads, wind blowing through their hair, laughter filling the thick humid air, jumping from party to party, roof top to roof top, then locking up at 5am with the sun rising and listening to the birds waking up. Perfection.”

We’re excited to meet Lauren when several of us will be in New York City later this month for our launch ride and event. She’ll also be giving us a bike tour, inspired by her online contest submission, on her new PUBLIC M3.