Outwitting Thieves at PUBLIC

December 12th, 2011

A sad fact of life is that bikes get stolen. Even with the enlightened bicycle cultures in Denmark and Holland, hundreds of thousands of bikes get ripped off every year.  We watch this with consternation. With all the GPS tracking and smart technology, why hasn’t anyone come up with a universal solution? At this early… Read more »

-->
Outwitting bike thieves

A sad fact of life is that bikes get stolen. Even with the enlightened bicycle cultures in Denmark and Holland, hundreds of thousands of bikes get ripped off every year.  We watch this with consternation. With all the GPS tracking and smart technology, why hasn’t anyone come up with a universal solution? At this early stage of our company, designing a solution is beyond our reach. The best we can do for now is to include unique serial numbers on every PUBLIC bike for tracking and to offer a good selection of locks for all occasions. We keep our eyes open for new solutions, like this one from Japan sent in by a reader. Read on.

David Byrne. G.R. Christmas, courtesy PaceWildenstein The Butler and the Chef

The Eco Cycle automated bike storage system in Japan, designed by Giken, is almost identical to systems used throughout Europe in train stations to store luggage. They operate like an underground elevator for belongings and provide security, as well as convenience, and eliminate the need for a lock. They are marvelous, ingenious, and so appreciated by weary travelers who don’t want to lug their bags around the city.   These clever systems are not common in the United States, but neither are trains, sadly.

If a solution similar to the Eco Cycle popped-up in New York soon, we would not be surprised. The New York Department of Transportation has underwritten contests for bike rack designs in recent years that drew the likes of David Byrne. They continue to push for progressive polices in biking infrastructure. At the forefront of their policy making is Janette Sadik-Khan who we interviewed last year. Sadik-Khan has been voted in the “Top 100 Urban Thinkers” by Planetizen, celebrated by Fast Company, dubbed a genius by Esquire, heralded a street fighter by the American Prospect, and offered as a reason to love New York by NY Mag.

The lack of available and convenient modern bike storage in San Francisco is unfathomable to most of us. Even with our SF Bike Coalition boasting over 12,000 members, the City can’t seem to keep up with the demand for bike parking. Even if not quickly enough to please us, our city streets are changing. Since the bike injunction lifted last August, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority continues to repurpose street parking spots for bike corrals. In our car centric South Park neighborhood, a bike corral was just installed at our favorite French bistro The Butler and the Chef, just 50 yards down the street. Come visit. Have a signature quiche dish and stop by PUBLIC. We have some pretty cool racks, as well as locks, home storage solutions, and other stuff.  If you want to get a bike corral for your hood, go here.

Is there a silver lining to the bike thievery problem? Unlikely. But the subject is at the heart of one of the greatest classic movies in history, The Bicycle Thief by Vittorio De Sica. It’s Woody Allen’s favorite movie of all time. Another positive outcome is that bike locks themselves make for good visuals seen on the streets. Take for example the photo essay, Bondage in Amsterdam that we sent out last year after a trip to Amsterdam. The diversity in solutions is pretty cool.

Pink Preoccupation

December 31st, 2010

We were in Taiwan a couple of weeks ago meeting with our manufacturing partners. The Taiwanese are foodies and the local blue-collar lunch cafes are a real treat. They are unpretentious places with sparse décor, but offer beautifully colorful dishes of fresh greens, fish, noodles, etc. I noticed that pink was the dominant color on… Read more »

-->
Pink PastimePink PastimePink Pastime

We were in Taiwan a couple of weeks ago meeting with our manufacturing partners. The Taiwanese are foodies and the local blue-collar lunch cafes are a real treat. They are unpretentious places with sparse décor, but offer beautifully colorful dishes of fresh greens, fish, noodles, etc. I noticed that pink was the dominant color on the tables and walls, and then I began seeing it everywhere around us – on the streets, in the sinks, on signage, on guys’ shirts in the factory, in the hotel lobby, everywhere. Pink is as ubiquitous in Taiwan as Orange is in Holland.

Spotting color is a good sport; determining the cultural relevance is a bit trickier. The origin of pink is tied to roses. Victoria’s Secret (of course) has tried to claim it. Communists were called “pinkos” when I was a kid. Blake Edwards used pink (and Peter Sellers) to create the most famous feline in cinematic history and a highly memorable Henry Mancini soundtrack. We found it was a favorite color in the hip Portland biking scene a few years ago, and we wrote it up in Men In Pink. Our friends at Rapha like it a lot.

Google ‘Pink’ and you will get a wide range of interpretations: girly, gay, sexy, connected to tranquility. Chasing pink around Taiwan was a stress-reducing activity, so we’re nominating the softer, less violent red as “best cure for jet lag.”

 
Pink PastimePink PastimePink PastimePink PastimePink PastimePink PastimePink PastimePink PastimePink PastimePink PastimePink PastimePink Pastime

That Blind Spot

December 31st, 2010

When we look in the mirror that reflects the world we live in, there’s a blind spot – we can’t see the cars. We’ve gotten so used to cars dominating our streets and landscape that in many respects, we don’t see how much they affect our everyday experience. Even in a ‘progressive’ place like Bolinas,… Read more »

-->
View of Bolinas

Bolinas

View of Bolinas

Bolinas

South Park in San Francisco

South Park

South Park in San Francisco

South Park

When we look in the mirror that reflects the world we live in, there’s a blind spot – we can’t see the cars.

We’ve gotten so used to cars dominating our streets and landscape that in many respects, we don’t see how much they affect our everyday experience.

Even in a ‘progressive’ place like Bolinas, CA, a beach town north of San Francisco where the locals tear down road signs that direct traffic towards their town, the main street is sadly an oversized asphalt parking lot. The width of the grey street dwarfs any other element. One must wade through (or just not see?) a mess of cars in order to experience their ‘unspoiled’ town. Cars have carved such an uncontested place in our landscape that just imagining them not there takes a real effort. In fact, the act of imagining a car free downtown Bolinas might take more energy than parking a couple blocks off the main drag. This isn’t Mideast Peace we’re talking about. The problem is the car has us all hypnotized into thinking it has to be, deserves to be, there. It doesn’t, does it?

I notice this hypnosis everyday outside our store in the progressive South Park neighborhood. Many visitors to South Park are captivated by the European charm of our neighborhood with a beautiful park nestled between vibrant eateries, residential buildings, and storefronts.

Yet an eye level survey, from almost any angle in South Park, will reveal that cars take up most of the visual space. It’s hard to even see the architecture or the people in the park. The sidewalk is pinched to a point where you can fit in one petite café table, barely. There is not enough space for legal bike racks, so there are none. None. Except the ones in our no cars allowed driveway.

We inch our way sideways between tightly fitted car bumpers when we walk into the park. I guess we can take a little comfort in the fact that we’re turning sideways to slide between Prius’s rather than SUV’s? Often we just don’t see what’s in front of our noses (or pressed against our thighs). Like many cities, San Francisco has a long way to being “progressive’ with respect to transportation and community design. But as a city we’re moving in the right direction with more parklets and efforts to redesign our streetscape, like Great Streets.

Yet despite all the smaller, progressive efforts to reclaim our public spaces, our broader public policy (also subject to a blind spot) stumbles along as if cars, asphalt, and pollution are invisible inevitabilities. Two recent examples are the Gulf oil spill and the recent Caldecott Tunnel in our East Bay. We blame and demonize BP but completely fail to see that it is we who create the demand for the product that they screwed up trying to get for us. In the case of the Caldecott Tunnel, we are spending $420 million taxpayer dollars to encourage more cars to pile into the already heavily congested East Bay and Bay Bridge traffic snarl. Effective mass transit and a higher tax on oil would get us part way to a solution.

We’re certainly not anti-car. In fact, some of us at PUBLIC own a car and ride a bicycle. But we at PUBLIC bicycle as our first transportation option in the city because it’s faster and more convenient – and more fun – than driving a car. We think the most livable cities will create the infrastructure to make bicycling the de facto, faster, convenient, and safer option for getting around. And we think the healthiest and most vibrant cities will be the ones moving away from the car-centric land-use policies of the past several decades.

Research indicates that 40% of all trips are less than two miles from home and 82% of trips, five miles or less, are made by car. Imagine if more people who are now driving to their neighborhood store, school, or to work switched over to bicycles?

What to do? Self-righteousness makes us feel a little better for a few minutes, but it gets us nowhere. If all politics are local, I guess we’ll begin in South Park. At the very least, we’ll try to get some bike racks there for starters and maybe paint them some bright colors that can be glimpsed occasionally through the cars. Ideas welcome.

50% Off End of Summer Sale

Medium Zero Messenger Bag - Donghia StripeWe’re having a one time final chance 50% off sale on a few special items while quantities last. This Donghia fabric shoulder bag is one example. The fabric was designed to withstand summer heat, but it’s also a durable winter textile. It will keep you looking colorful and protect your laptop or lunch in any season.

 

Strange on the Streets

December 29th, 2010

There was a unique street event in San Francisco (and simultaneously around the world) last week called PARK(ing) Day. Businesses and community groups were encouraged to convert the metered parking spaces in front of their establishments into alternative public spaces. The event plays off what it means when you pay for a parking space, demanding… Read more »

-->
Park(ing) DayPark(ing) DaySWA StudiosPark(ing) Day
Park(ing) Day

2nd Street SOMA

One of SOMA's six lane thoroughfares

3rd Street SOMA

Pedestrians crossing SOMA's six lanes

Brannan Street SOMA

There was a unique street event in San Francisco (and simultaneously around the world) last week called PARK(ing) Day. Businesses and community groups were encouraged to convert the metered parking spaces in front of their establishments into alternative public spaces. The event plays off what it means when you pay for a parking space, demanding a little awareness from us about this wholly habitual transaction. What is a parking space? What could it be? It’s a fun and quirky event, spread out mostly in the South of Market (SOMA), Hayes Valley, and Mission parts of the city. The best designed installations involved some humor, cleverness, and visual thinking ­­ an architectural pop-up environment made from the recycled cardboard tubes of large format printers by SWA/Studios SWA/Studios on Howard Street and the Pig (Harry Allen), a parked astroturf car piece at Propeller Propeller on Hayes. There were several animated spaces on Valencia Street that included insect habitats, brown bears, panda bears, maroon walruses on bikes (of course ), and more.

PARK(ing) Day asks people to reevaluate the very nature of urban street design and to prioritize the human experience over the car experience. It’s a mild-mannered demonstration, a lot easier for most drivers to accept than the more confrontational Critical Mass. PARK(ing) Day shares much in common with the hugely successful Sunday Streets program where sections of the city are closed to car traffic for a day. Both are international events, exploding in popularity, and well received by the residents and business alike because it increases friendly sidewalk traffic, not car traffic.

It’s great to call attention to these urban design issues with these diminutive installations, but a little sad that the monstrously dominant visual element that defines our environment – the massive swaths of asphalt – are implicitly given a pass. In our SOMA neighborhood numerous six lane one-way thoroughfares crisscross miles of the city and define the urban plan of the district. These supersized runways were smart design elements at one time. They were constructed back in the 1930’s in order to accommodate commercial trucks that serviced the heavy industries that made up this part of city.

But industry has left most of SOMA. Factories have been replaced by lofts, yoga studios, bars, eateries, art museums, music clubs, and design offices – a myriad soulful community-based enterprises. There is a vibrant community here, but not many of us enjoy walking around much. It’s impersonal in sight, sound, and scale not really designed for humans. One-way high-speed traffic runs counter to the needs of civilized neighborhoods. We live and work on highway corridors that serve freeways and bridges for outlying communities, not ours.

Logically, it is time for these thoroughfares to be retrofitted with trees, pedestrian zones, bike lanes, parks, and sidewalk cafes. All of this could be done at low cost with community support and with marginal impact to traffic. San Francisco also has some stellar examples of repurposed public spaces ­the Ferry Building and Crissy Field at the top of the list. Tourists and locals alike flock to these retrofitted destinations. Community is nurtured. What’s not to like about it?

It seems so obvious. Some of the most attractive and valuable real estate in the world we have operating as underutilized sober grey asphalt runways. I guess we just don’t see it. Or we are too busy hustling through it or making sure we don’t get run over crossing the streets to think about the possibilities. This is what is really strange, a lot stranger than maroon walruses talking to bears to be sure.

Park(ing) DayPark(ing) DayPark(ing) DayPark(ing) DayPark(ing) DayPark(ing) Day
 

Bikes Back in Stock (Almost)

PUBLIC's Orange M3As many of you know we have been out of stock on most of our 3-Speeds for months. Thanks for your patience. We will have Medium sized M3’s in Cream, Orange, and Blue ready to ship by October 15th. We sold out of these quickly before, so this is a good time to place your order.

 

Dad, Let’s Hit the Road.

December 26th, 2010

Put yourself in the position of a young child. You are given the choice of how to get to school, or to the store, with one of your parents on any given day. Do you want to go: Buckled up or strapped down in the rear seat of a car with a view of the… Read more »

-->
Kids & BikesKids & BikesKids & BikesKids & BikesKids & BikesKids & BikesKids & Bikes

Put yourself in the position of a young child. You are given the choice of how to get to school, or to the store, with one of your parents on any given day. Do you want to go:

  • Buckled up or strapped down in the rear seat of a car with a view of the back of a seat and someone’s head? or
  • Sitting in front of a bicycle cart with the wind blowing in your face, fresh air, and a 360-degree view of the world with your parent behind, at the helm

This would be an easy choice for most kids. It would be like asking a dog if he would rather have his car window rolled up or down. But kids and dogs do not get to make these decisions on their own. Parents decide these things, based mostly on convenience, safety, or on fear. And thus we have major differences in various countries and cultures.

One of the most visible differences between US cities and cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam is that kids and parents are both highly visible on the streets in those foreign cities. They are everywhere omnipresent. I saw so many young parents with children on the streets on bikes that I actually asked one mother if the birth rate was especially high in Denmark. She laughed and replied: “No, our birth rate is actually one of the lowest in Europe. But the government makes it so easy for us to take our kids out on trips that you just see more of us in Public.”

Almost 50% of young children get around Copenhagen on bikes with their parents. It looked like these percentages were higher in Amsterdam. One in four parents in Copenhagen have a specially designed bicycle rig – cycle carts – for hauling their kids around town and are given special bike storage spaces on their neighborhood streets.

I have to believe that this bodes well for a child’s development. What is the lifetime value of experiencing the world from the front of a bike versus the rear seat of a car in early youth? What is it worth to learn to approach the world with a sense of adventure instead of fear? From where do we get our sense of confidence, independence and social connection? How cool is it to spend time with your parents doing something physical and fun everyday?

These thoughts were on mind as I watched so many parents pedaling their kids around the city. My Mom did not pedal me around in Pasadena where I grew up – we rode bikes ourselves, but I do remember how cool it was when my Mom got a convertible car. What is the value of fresh air and wind alone?

I cannot advocate the Amsterdam/Copenhagen bike mode for parents in many US cities that are not very bike family-friendly at this time. But I wish I could. What would it take to make more of those Danish kidmobiles common on our streets? It will take governmental policy, community leadership, courageous smart Mayors, separated lanes for bicycles, and a lot more people riding and having fun on their bikes. Let’s get there.

– Rob Forbes

Photos taken in Amsterdam and Copenhagen

Also, this week at PUBLIC:
Free Shipping Ends Tonight
PUBLIC Jobs
Special Deals On Clothing

 
Kids & BikesKids & BikesKids & BikesKids & BikesKids & BikesKids & Bikes

The Good Life: Coffee with Beer Chaser

December 24th, 2010

We were in Copenhagen recently for a big biking event and took tons of photographs of Danes and their bikes. My favorite photo, however, is bikeless – just a café table top on the main drag, right across from Tivoli Gardens. The table was occupied by an old guy who looked like he might be… Read more »

-->

Copenhagen Still LifeWe were in Copenhagen recently for a big biking event and took tons of photographs of Danes and their bikes. My favorite photo, however, is bikeless – just a café table top on the main drag, right across from Tivoli Gardens. The table was occupied by an old guy who looked like he might be a WWII veteran or a character out of some post-apocalypse movie. Gaunt face, old guy ears. He even had his aluminum crutches sprawled on the sidewalk next to his table. Not wanting to invade the moment, I just snapped a quick picture of his carefully laid-out table and another from behind him.

His table styling was better than any professional could achieve because it was real. It was a still life emblematic of the Danish character, soul, and culture. Morandi could not have done better. The guy had arranged his beloved objects just so, creating a strong sense of order and control: wool hat, tobacco pouch, coffee, corncob pipe, beer, plastic lighter, ashtray. The palette was impeccable as if worked out in advance with the café owner. It was a mixture of old and new cultural artifacts, made elegant and timeless atop a classic Danish teak table surface. It was a study in materials, simplicity, practicality, and self-sufficiency. Resourcefulness and design run deep in Danish culture.

Here it was, 11AM, and this man was alternating sips of beer and coffee, preparing for the day. There was such a sense of pleasure in the little things in life — the ones that we can take control of and author for ourselves. This guy was doing his part. It was a study in dignity, tradition and comfort — a reminder that these little things are a huge part of our lives.

What does this have to do with bikes? Everything. This is a study in the pleasure of independence and self-sufficiency — the qualities that first drew us to bikes when we were kids, and that still attract us as adults. We don’t need much to be happy.

If this guy were riding a bike today he would probably be on a single speed because of its simplicity and Copenhagen’s flat terrain.

Our Single Speeds Are On Sale

Danny on our Classic D1
Doubling up with the Dahon on a Vespa

We sell two basic modern lightweight single speeds: our classic D1 and a foldable Dahon Mu Uno. Why choose one of these over our geared bikes? Lots of reasons. First, they are easy to ride and will take you almost everywhere. For almost 70 years (from 1880 to 1950) most bikes had only one gear. In fact in the early Tour de France competitions, racers would have to change wheels to climb the mountains. There are different reasons today. They encourage us to ride more slowly and to look around more carefully. Stress levels are reduced when you are not concerned with speed. You do not race — you cruise. Think of our D1 as a modern cruiser.

The Dahon is less a cruiser than an ultimate utility bike. You’ll find numerous uses for it depending on your habits and needs. For example, I strapped it to my Vespa (with our Swiss bungee cord) when I dropped the scooter off for a tune up and needed a ride home. It’s perfect for short trips around the city. It fits almost anywhere: a car trunk, closets, narrow elevators, on public transportation and takes only 10 seconds to fold up. Works if you are 4‘6” or 6’4” and anywhere in between, so it is a great guest and family bike.

 
Ian showing off his own double-upSally on our D1Test riding a Dahon

Hotels, Yurts, Trailers, and Bikes

December 22nd, 2010

You can test ride (and buy) our bikes from a select group of bike stores around the US. If you want to combine a vacation and a test ride, here are two hotels that provide PUBLIC bikes for their guests. The H2 Hotel in Healdsburg, California and El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas. Both of these… Read more »

-->
H2 pool reflectionPUBLIC bikes at H2The H2 green roof; looking north.

You can test ride (and buy) our bikes from a select group of bike stores around the US. If you want to combine a vacation and a test ride, here are two hotels that provide PUBLIC bikes for their guests. The H2 Hotel in Healdsburg, California and El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas. Both of these new lodgings offer exceptionally unique guest experiences in unique locations.

H2

In August, this boutique hotel opened and ever since has been getting kudos for many aspects of its design. Architect David Baker applied his eco-design skills to the project by utilizing local materials, installing a living roof, a solar system, an underground cistern for water collection, and employing other features to reduce the environmental impact. The interiors were designed by Marie Fisher and include Piet Hein Eek furniture and other unique details. You’ll find Piet Hein Eek work inside too. A short walk from the hotel leads you to the historic center square in Healdsburg, which is lined with unique local stores and our favorite Italian trattoria in the county, Scopa. Some of the best country biking in the state surrounds the hotel – easy bikes trips to wineries, the Russian River, and to numerous other Sonoma Valley destinations. H2 is a welcome alternative to the more traditional B&B’s in the area that stock potpourri and Victorian details but not bikes. H2 is quickly gaining a rep as one of the best hotels in the entire Bay Area. Mention PUBLIC and receive a 10% discount on rooms, Sunday-Thursday now through December 28th, 2010.
www.h2hotel.com

 
El Cosmico Trailer

El Cosmico yurtEl Cosmico teepee

Photos courtesy of Eric Ryan Anderson

El Cosmico

Anyone who has been to Marfa, Texas knows that the hotel options lack in contrast to the uniqueness of Marfa itself. Marfa is home to a phenomenal collection of Donald Judd works and installations. He dedicated over twenty years of his life to this small southwestern town where he lived and worked until his death. El Cosmico may be as unique as Marfa itself. You can stay in a 1956 vintage Imperial Mansion trailer for $125 or if you’re on a tighter budget go with a Teepee or a Yurt for as little as $60. El Cosmico’s amenities – beyond PUBLIC bikes – range from a Bath House, Dutch Tubs, a Hammock Grove, and wireless Internet. The shared outdoor kitchen onsite and picnic tables set the tone for great conversation.

One cannot truly capture the experience of Marfa from a typical hotel room, while awaiting room service. El Cosmico allows you to feel the essence of the desert after visiting Donald Judd’s work throughout the town. Flat terrain and PUBLIC bikes allow you to see it all. Mention PUBLIC and receive a 10% discount on rooms, Sunday-Thursdays.
www.elcosmico.com

 

Other Bike-Hotels?

We plan to maintain a list of hotels that provide guests with free bikes – of any brand – as part of their hospitality package. Please send us referrals and we will mention them in future newsletters. Two hotels we frequently recommend are the Maritime in New York and the San Jose in Austin.

PUBLIC Rear Baskets now Back in Stock

Rear BasketWe designed this handy wire basket that easily attaches to almost any rear bike rack. It’s been a best selling item because of its functionality and versatility – great for books, laptops, purses, and groceries. In just seconds you can pop the rear basket off, grab it by the handle, run your errands, and save a few plastic bags along the way. A couple bungee straps or a cargo net make it that much more utilitarian.

David Herlihy Event at PUBLIC Oct 8th

David Herlihy’s first book on bikes, Bicycle: The History won the 2004 Award for Excellence in the History of Science. It’s a great fast paced read and probably the best reference on bikes we know about. David Herlihy wrote another unique book, The Lost Cyclist. Check out Urban Velo’s review. We are delighted to have him at PUBLIC to talk about the book and hang out with us for an evening. Mark your calendars from 6-8pm on Oct. 8 at 123 South Park and RSVP at rsvp@publicbikes.com.

 

Mile Highs and Lows in Colorado

December 21st, 2010

A quick trip to Colorado last month put us in the Denver International Airport on our way to Boulder, CO. We don’t know of two greater contrasts in transportation designs in one region. The experience was a study in the extremes we see in our modern world. The Denver International Airport has been on the… Read more »

-->
Mile Highs and Lows in ColoradoMile Highs and Lows in Colorado
Mile Highs and Lows in Colorado

Boulder Bike Lane

Mile Highs and Lows in Colorado

Vecchios

Mile Highs and Lows in Colorado

Vintage at U Bikes

Mile Highs and Lows in Colorado

Public in Boulder Rack

A quick trip to Colorado last month put us in the Denver International Airport on our way to Boulder, CO. We don’t know of two greater contrasts in transportation designs in one region. The experience was a study in the extremes we see in our modern world.

The Denver International Airport has been on the design radar since its inception in 1994. It rises out of nowhere in the high plains, like modernist Bedouin tents. Inside it feels like a study in efficient mobility with everyone everywhere in motion. The architecture firm, Fentress Architects, designed the airport and it lives up to their slogan “Inspired Design for People.” A speedy tram zips you to terminals. There are elevators, horizontal conveyor walkways, and escalators in every space. They whisk you around like magic inside the space. But once you get your bags and look for public transportation, it smacks you. You are stuck. You are 15 miles from anywhere. Denver is one of the few major airports in the entire world that is not connected to its city by some form of rail. Taxis and rental cars are your only way out. OK, there are buses (sort of) but who wants to pack into a bus, especially after a plane flight? It is as if the car rental agencies and taxis conspired to form a monopoly. Maybe they did. How uncivilized.

Nearby, Boulder is the opposite extreme i.e. very civilized. The city is designed to encourage people to walk, ride bikes, take public transportation, and reduce their dependence on cars. There are bike trails and well-signed paths everywhere and bike racks of all shapes and sizes all around town. For bike geeks there are several amazing bike stores like University Bikes (an amazing collection of vintage and modern bikes) and Vecchio where you can test ride a PUBLIC. For novice riders they even have a website, Go Bike Boulder that tells you how to get from A to B on a bike. With 300+ miles of bike paths within the 24.5 square miles of the city, this is very helpful. Boulder is not Amsterdam, but bikes do set the pace around downtown and you’ll see the full range of bikers from costumed nighttime bike parades to Lycra clad bike tri-athletes. And maybe the highest sign of civic enlightenment was that the bikers seem to obey the laws and leave the downtown pedestrian mall for pedestrians. Perhaps kudos goes to the City of Boulder for offering support and easy access to Bicyclists Rights and Responsibility on their comprehensive website. This is all very optimistic and idealistic – other cities could learn a lot from this example. The bike industry advocacy and educational organization Bikes Belong is headquartered there and it certainly belongs there.

What the Denver International Airport and Boulder have in common is that they are somewhat insular communities that attempt to provide the best mobility experience for people within their walls. However, they do not deal with the regional issues i.e. what to do when you are outside of their community. For this planning we do need government involvement, legislation, and public advocates.

It is our hope for enlightened transportation planning, whether that means high-speed rail or bike lanes.

Take Action. Vote.

And with another election season upon us, we encourage everyone to vote for candidates who prioritize sound transportation, bicycle and pedestrian-oriented land-use planning. And if you live in California, a strong NO vote against Proposition 23 is important. It’s worth a bike ride or stroll to your polling booth to vote NO against the disastrous, backward Proposition 23 that’s largely funded by big oil companies. This issue is not complicated.

Win a New PUBLIC bike

Ladies G7 OrangeWe have been besieged by requests from customers since the day we launched for an affordable all-purpose city bike. Our design team put this request on our fast track and we will have two new bike models here by mid-November. We are having a contest to win one of these bikes. So here is a chance to be one of the first to ride one, and for free. The bikes will be priced at $495. We will have full specifications up next week, but you can get a sneak preview and enter the contest today.

Tretorn Rainboot

Tretorn Skerry Reslig Rain Boot
We will be adding a wide range of new products this fall, including new Tretorn shoes like these Skerry Reslig rain boots. Made from all natural and PVC-free rubber, these 100% waterproof boots were originally designed for heavy-weather sailing. Which also makes them a welcome solution for biking on rain-soaked city streets and sidewalks. They could even make puddles fun again.

 

PUBLIC’s in the Public

December 16th, 2010

Our bikes are showing in up all kinds of places. We feel very fortunate to have them sprinkled all around the US after only a few months of opening shop. This is a thank you to our fans, a gallery of nationwide photos of our bikes and clients, and an invitation to our South Park… Read more »

-->
In front of Anish Kapoor sculpture in Chicago

Anish Kapoor sculpture by Ron Wu

Under Brazilian dancers

Under Brazilian dancers

In bike parking lots in Denmark

Denmark

In front of politician’s podiums

In front of politician’s podiums

Next to Frank Gehry in New York

New York

In meadows in the Rockies

Rockies

At the beach

At the beach

Our bikes are showing in up all kinds of places. We feel very fortunate to have them sprinkled all around the US after only a few months of opening shop. This is a thank you to our fans, a gallery of nationwide photos of our bikes and clients, and an invitation to our South Park party this Saturday in San Francisco. Here’s partial list of where PUBLIC bikes have been spotted:

  • In bike parking lots in Denmark
  • At numerous Farmers Markets
  • In lingerie stores
  • Next to Frank Gehry in New York
  • Under politicians rear ends
  • In meadows in the Rockies
  • At the beach
  • In magazine store windows
  • In artist studios in Brooklyn
  • In SOHO shoe stores
  • Chopped into rickshaws
  • In boutique hotels
  • At ballparks
  • Hung on gallery walls
  • At Design Within Reach
  • In O Magazine and Martha Stewart Living
  • In J Crew catalogs
  • In blogs like Treehugger
  • In numerous other media
  • On the streets in 40 states

At some of the best bike stores and retailers in the US:

More Photos…

We have an ulterior motive in displaying these photos . . . We’d like more. We plan to display them in our store and on our blog. Photos are only one way for us to share our story and the fun. We’ll be taking photos at our party this weekend and we welcome shots, videos even more so, from around the country. You can even upload photos to our Flickr pool and Facebook.

Our Rear Basket on Sale

PUBLIC BasketWe designed this simple, lightweight rear basket with a spring-loaded quick release, so you can easily attach and remove it from your rack. By removing it from the bike in just a few seconds, it transitions into a shopping basket equipped with a handle. It fits on most standard racks, and that’s one of the many reasons it’s been so popular.

A Streetcar Named Yellow

December 14th, 2010

We arrived in Lisbon, Portugal with absolutely no travel agenda other than to walk around and hang out in a European city and culture that is a little off the travel radar. Lisbon has a lot in common with San Francisco physically. Both cities are on the water with hilly, dramatic views, and a photogenic… Read more »

-->
Lisbon #28 Streetcar Lisbon #28 StreetcarLisbon #28 StreetcarLisbon #28 Streetcar Lisbon #28 StreetcarTiled building facade in Lisbon

We arrived in Lisbon, Portugal with absolutely no travel agenda other than to walk around and hang out in a European city and culture that is a little off the travel radar. Lisbon has a lot in common with San Francisco physically. Both cities are on the water with hilly, dramatic views, and a photogenic orange bridge. Both are great walking cities but spread out enough so that you need some kind of public transportation to get the feel of the entire city.

It’s challenging to see Lisbon by bicycle – if you want to think or talk while you’re seeing it – because the streets are heavily cobbled with rail lines slashing through them. And the hills are so steep that even kids walk their bikes up them.

We were tipped off that the #28 Streetcar was a good way to get an overview of the city. When one pulled up to our stop, I loved its canary yellow color and the fact that locals and tourists alike were hanging out of the windows and smiling. Inside it had the feel of a vintage motorboat more than a tram, with dark wood paneling, polished metal hardware, and neat design details.

The #28 zooms up and down around the city taking some sharp, jostling turns. It reminded me of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland more than public transportation. Fun. You could break an arm if you left it hanging too far out the window, but that little bit of risk just heightened the experience. Everyone fights for the right to a seat with a window that opens and closes manually. And everyone – including the locals – seemed to be getting a kick out of riding it. It was a treat, like taking vaporetti in Venice or the ferries in the Bay Area.

I live right on a cable car line in San Francisco, but I never take it. Our cable cars resemble the Lisbon #28 in character, but they are slow, inconvenient, unreliable, and they stop way too often. They are simply not fun to ride unless you’re a tourist, and walking is usually faster. What would it take it take to get me on a local cable car? Speed I guess. If it zipped downtown, I might use it regularly. But the same thing that would attract me (speed) would probably scare away the tourists.

Convenience and speed obviously comes first with public transportation, but maybe there are other design criteria like ‘color,’ ‘fresh air’, even ‘fun’, that should be taken more seriously? Would I have taken the #28 if it were a sober modern grey or beige with no manual windows and no thrill to the ride? Not a chance. Would I take BART more often if it were less dowdy? Maybe. Do you think our Department of Transportation design departments would laugh at me for suggesting that we should make BART more colorful, retrofit some manual windows for fresh air, and engineer some thrills into the ride? Definitely. Do charm and efficiency need to be mutually exclusive? No. This is why we ride bikes.

Lisbon has a lot more to offer than the Yellow #28. The cobbled streets and sidewalks make pattern a part of everyday excursion. The diversity and color in the tiles and buildings are a few of the unique details to the city. But you can’t see most of them from the #28 – it goes too fast.

See more of our Lisbon photos here.

 

Dutch Bike Company Seattle

Interior of the Dutch Bike Company in Seattle

Interior of the Dutch Bike Company in Seattle

Dutch Bike Company Seattle is known as “importers and retailers of the finest European city bicycles.” We’re proud that you can now test ride and buy a PUBLIC bike in Seattle at this fabulous retailer. Much of our inspiration comes from Europe. We designed our PUBLIC bikes as an alternative to the authentic Dutch bikes that we love – ours are lighter in weight, typically offer more gears, more vibrant colors, and sizes for every person. We continue to add more test ride locations around the country.

PARK(ing) Day on Sept. 17

PARK(ing) DayOne of our favorite days in the city is the annual PARK(ing) Day. This year’s PARK(ing) Day is on Friday, Sept. 17. PARK(ing) Day started in 2005 by our friends at Rebar, who are some of the most creative urban designers and planners we’ve come across. We’re teaming up with our friends from Bike Basket Pies and Nomad’s Kitchen to convert a few parking spots near our office as temporary picnic areas. We’ll have tables and chairs – and a bookshelf with reading materials to inspire visitors to read about our world of design and bicycles. We’ll have a few other surprises too. Come visit us at 123 South Park on Friday and share meal with our PUBLIC posse.