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 »
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 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
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.
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 »
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.
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.
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.
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.
We 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’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 email@example.com.
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 »
Boulder Bike Lane
Vintage at U Bikes
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.
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.
We 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.
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.
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 »
Anish Kapoor sculpture by Ron Wu
Under Brazilian dancers
In front of politician’s podiums
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:
- San Francisco, CA: American Cyclery
- Berkeley, CA: Bike Fit Studio
- Oakland, CA: Manifesto Bicycles
- New York City, NY: Tretorn
- Lexington, MA (near Boston): Ride Studio
- Los Angeles, CA: Flying Pigeon LA
- Minneapolis, MN: One on One Bicycle Studio
- Montauk, NY: Edition New York
- Portland, OR: Clever Cycles
- Santa Barbara, CA: WheelHouse
- San Diego, CA: Velo Cult
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.
We 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.
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 »
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
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
One 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.
Our new PUBLIC bikes (prototypes) have been turning up all around San Francisco. We’ll have them for sale next month, but you can check them out right now on our PUBLIC website and maybe even win one in our contest. When we showed our pal Laura Guido-Clark our line of bikes, she deemed the colors… Read more »
Our new PUBLIC bikes (prototypes) have been turning up all around San Francisco. We’ll have them for sale next month, but you can check them out right now on our PUBLIC website and maybe even win one in our contest.
PUBLIC M8 in white with basket
PUBLIC D1 in chartreuse
When we showed our pal Laura Guido-Clark our line of bikes, she deemed the colors “lickable”. We liked that. Admittedly, we did not have “licking” in mind when we came up with these colors, but Laura makes her living understanding and applying the meaning and value of color to our world; so when she talks we sit up straight. Our bike colors – ironically – are derived from the world of cars and scooters. The “Milano” orange was inspired by a ’68 Vespa we’ve had in our office. Our robin’s egg blue was stolen from a vintage Porsche we spotted on the street. The green and white came from late ’60s BMW’s. There is also a ‘50s Thunderbird turquoise we might steal in the future. A lot of older cars were quite lickable.
Studio Forbes Vespa
PUBLIC D3 in orange
It is hard to think of cars as being lickable these days. Their colors are predominantly versions of gray, dark gray and darker gray – and a black to keep designers and teenagers appeased. It’s probably just as well, because cars are a lot bigger than they used to be, and color makes objects appear larger. A big, honking Lincoln Navigator in our ‘Milano’ orange would scare just about anyone. Car shapes today are less distinct from each other – it’s often hard to tell a Mercedes from a Ford. So painting them with special colors would be an exercise in superficiality. And given the effect of cars on the environment in recent decades, car manufacturers are right to focus on efficiency and safety rather than color. Car culture as romance and beauty is mostly an exercise in nostalgia. It’s hard to imagine a contemporary rock band singing a paean to a Saturn or an Audi the way the Beach Boys or Jan and Dean swooned over the cars of their era. Maybe someday designers will create cars that are so smart and beautiful that they will again deserve special colors (they should talk to Laura), but until then we can give a nod to what was great about cars by moving some of their lickable colors into the future.
We’d just like to see more people on bikes, and pretty colors are one way to help people fall in love with them. Our bikes are also a thrill to ride and the result of two years of research and design. If you are in the Bay Area (and friendly), please stop by and take a spin. Just give us a call at 415.896.0123 to make an appointment. We’ll also have our bikes in SOHO, at the Tretorn store by mid May, and elsewhere around the US in coming months.
If you want an example of how an imaginative repurposing of a public space can change people’s perspectives of their own city, the best example in recent years is The High Line in New York. We “walked it” last month for the first time. It is perhaps the most provocative, creative, optimistic piece of modern… Read more »
If you want an example of how an imaginative repurposing of a public space can change people’s perspectives of their own city, the best example in recent years is The High Line in New York. We “walked it” last month for the first time. It is perhaps the most provocative, creative, optimistic piece of modern design of this decade – as visually and culturally relevant, and as original, as Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao last decade.
In the 1930s The High Line elevated rail was constructed as part of the West Side Improvement project to serve the meatpacking and garment district of Manhattan without disrupting pedestrian traffic. By 1980 the rail was abandoned and in threat of being torn down as a result of the nationwide increase in interstate trucking. It was an irrelevant anachronism, and many felt the logical thing to do was tear it down – it served no rational urban purpose. Instead, community forces worked together to convert the structure into a mile and a half long public park and walkway. It now gives anyone and everyone a place to hang out, snooze, read a paper, people watch, jog, learn about the indigenous plants and view the city and its architecture from an elevated perspective.
Quiet. Reflective. Clever. Friendly. Inclusive. Pretty. These are not the adjectives we normally assign to most new urban developments. The fact that the private and public sectors even tried to pull this off is reason for giddy optimism; their success (and the final product) borders on the miraculous.
Architects Diller Scoffidio + Renfro and landscape architects James Corner Field Operations are responsible for the rehabilitation of The High Line. They blended historic and new materials and languages – leaving old chunky iron rails and hardware exposed and incorporating newly poured concrete creatively. Instead of denying the past, they incorporated and transformed it. The High Line has the feel of an outdoor museum – charming kids, foreign visitors, and locals alike. It combines indigenous flora and many designer details like the elegant modern outdoor benches. The neighborhood has been truly refreshed, and visitors are treated to forgotten vistas of the city.
We have examples of intelligently repurposed public spaces in San Francisco: Crissy Field, Fort Mason, and the Ferry Building, for example. But the High Line has a unique drama and character derived from its elevated structural nature and connection to the past. Like Chicago’s celebrated River Architecture Tour, it is equal parts education and entertainment, and perhaps destined to be as popular. (The River Tour is Chicago’s premiere tourist attraction).
Having given San Francisco and Chicago their due, it must be said that The High Line is another example of New York’s leadership in creatively reshaping public spaces to make the city more livable.
Check out more of our photos of The High Line on Flickr.
Bicycling around at dusk or at night without a highly visible blinking rear taillight is unsafe. When we turn our clocks back on November 7th we need to be extra cautious of bicycle safety. There are many bike taillights on the market, but very few that pass our test for being easy to install, easy to remove, elegant, and highly visible. Our Knog Gekko Taillight is a house favorite for its size and functionality. Made from flexible silicone, it wraps around almost any seat post or frame tube easily, and comes in several colors. Its three bright red LED lights keep you visible up to 1,800 feet. Ride on with safety.
The first deliveries of our PUBLIC M3 sold out in many sizes and colors early this summer. It turned out to be our most popular model. Our next delivery comes in this week. We will be filling backorders – thanks for waiting – and taking new orders for immediate shipment. This easy shifting 3 speed is especially suited for those who wear skirts or those who prefer not to swing a leg way up and over a typical crossbar, i.e. it’s good for guys too.
Bikes are designed for motion, so they naturally find themselves starring in all sorts of videos all around the world. The original Copenhagen Cycle Chic travels the world making low budget pleasant and elegant videos in cities such as Barcelona, Tokyo, Paris, and our home San Francisco. Bikes crop up in socially responsible videos like… Read more »
Bikes are designed for motion, so they naturally find themselves starring in all sorts of videos all around the world. The original Copenhagen Cycle Chic travels the world making low budget pleasant and elegant videos in cities such as Barcelona, Tokyo, Paris, and our home San Francisco. Bikes crop up in socially responsible videos like the Streetsfilm coverage of Ciclovia in Bogota. Bikes have been filmed in radical rides with pyromaniac guys and music videos of dreamy nighttime rides with girls in billowing skirts. A celebrity stunt bike rider, Danny MacAskill has a YouTube video that has been viewed over 20 million times. (Don’t try this with your PUBLIC). The Wall Street Journal made a video on David Byrne riding around Brooklyn. Cycling clips from the Tour de France and other races are ubiquitous online. While bikes are not much good for pornography, you can even find videos on nude bike rides from Michigan to Melbourne.
We have been capturing bikes and bike events on video for years. They range from this intense roller-racing event in Portland to daily traffic in Copenhagen. Our friends put together the video featured above of our Design Ride Manhattan last May. We’d like to feature more videos like these online.
Customer videos. Earn $500 merchandise credit.
We’d like to feature customer and client videos on our website and in newsletters. Can you help us out? Most bicyclists seem to share a few passions: music, coffee, art, photography, and local culture. This is all good content for the videos we would like to feature. Create a short 60-second video of riding your PUBLIC bike in your hood with commentary and/or a soundtrack. Just make sure you have authorization or permission to use any creative work such as music or images that are not your own.
This is just one idea – we’ll happily look at any concepts and formats. This is an ongoing offer and request. But between now and the end of the year we’ll give a $500 merchandise credit for any videos we choose to feature on our website.
Here’s how to submit videos:
Go to Flickr, Vimeo, or You Tube. If you don’t have an account with either, you’ll need to create one. No worries, it is a quick and easy process. Once you have an account select “upload a video.” Finally and most importantly, tag the video with PUBLIC Bikes. To be extra sure we receive your video send the link to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are adding a lot new products to our website this week: Yepp kids seats from the Netherlands, Knog bike locks from Australia, a Saris bike racks from Wisconsin, and this easy to install flashing taillight designed to bolt right onto your bike rack or seat post. “Blinky” has five super-bright LED tail lights to keep you safely visible – especially needed this time of year as the days get shorter.
Our post last week, That Blind Spot drew a lot of feedback. It’s pretty easy to point to the problems car culture inflicts on the US and to wag fingers at poor transportation ‘design’. The irony of our local community – the ‘progressive’ Bay Area – succumbing to this collective blindness stands out as somewhat… Read more »
Sea of Cars at Eurobike
Next Bike stand at Eurobike
Next Bike Rentals
Next Bike text message
Next Bike Advertisement
Bike parking lots in Amsterdam
Our post last week, That Blind Spot drew a lot of feedback. It’s pretty easy to point to the problems car culture inflicts on the US and to wag fingers at poor transportation ‘design’. The irony of our local community – the ‘progressive’ Bay Area – succumbing to this collective blindness stands out as somewhat comical. This irony is not unique to the US. Let me tell you what I came across in Germany at the annual Eurobike show last week.
Eurobike is the Mecca for bicyclists. It may be five times the size of the US Interbike show. Getting to Friedrichshafen, the town closet to the show, is a treat and hopefully a taste of all travel in the future. You fly into Zurich, walk 100 yards to a train that speeds you silently at 100 mph to Romanshorn. You hop a ferry and have a beer with pals during an hour-long ride across the lake, disembarking in Friedrichshafen, where you can walk to your hotel. You’re feeling profoundly envious of the European public transportation system – the last car I thought about was the taxi in San Francisco taking me to BART (Bay Area Regional Transit).
Getting to the bike show the next morning brought me back to the reality of car traffic. The show is held in a remote suburban location and only accessible by cars and buses. The three-mile trip may take you an hour. Traffic is backed up for 20 miles in all directions with people in their cars trying to get to a bike show. The exhibition area is surrounded by fields of cars and feels stunningly like a racetrack event. This sea of cars really puts the ‘iron’ in irony.
These traffic-jams last all four days of the show. Remember, this is a show to celebrate bikes – amazing pieces of design that give us all independence and efficiency. The irony of it all seems lost on the leaders of the bike industry. How much sweeter it would be if we all rode bikes from our hotels to the show located in a city or community where bikes serve a social purpose? What if the parking lot looked like what you find in so many cities like Amsterdam?
Solutions are always more interesting, and I found one on the first day. I was standing in a long line waiting for a bus after the show, tired and cranky like everyone else. I noticed a small line of rental ‘Next Bikes’ outside the convention hall. I inquired. The bikes were all spoken for, but the guy thought there might be one in a remote location. He used a wireless GPS system and located a bike nearby. In thirty seconds he hooked me up to the online service and sent me a text with the location, serial number, and lock combo of my bike. After a 15-minute walk I was on my free bike and riding blissfully back to the hotel with that special pleasure of passing all the car traffic leaving the Eurobike show. I used the bike during my four-day trip and dropped it off outside my hotel where I simply called the service to tell them I was done. The rental price was $1 Euro for four days. (The ads on the bikes apparently pay for the costs of the system.) All of this is made possible by wireless technology, free enterprise, and local entrepreneurs.
Let’s not delude ourselves by nostalgic thinking that bikes alone are the answer to mobility. We need modern technology. Bike geeks love technology and we have such a tradition for innovation in our own backyard. We must be able to make this work at home, no? Grassroots innovations seem more likely than relying on governmental action or waiting for the bike industry to come around (which is having too much fun watching kids fly on bikes over hills, and it does look like fun).
Mellow Johnny's Inside
Mellow Johnny’s is well known because it’s owned by Lance Armstrong, but better known for the adjoining Juan Pelota café, the showers for sweaty bikers, a bike service center, and the best selection in Austin of lifestyle clothing and bikes for racing and city commuting. I love it for its low-key local architecture. Check it out when in Austin. Also check out our other test ride locations around the country – we just added a few more.
The fashion side of biking gains attention every year, driven mostly by mainstream media. Two prime examples are the recent articles in The New York Times, “Bicycle Chic Gains Speed,” and in The Wall Street Journal, “The Season of Biker Chic,” both placed in the style section. In new media, bike fashion has become a… Read more »
The fashion side of biking gains attention every year, driven mostly by mainstream media. Two prime examples are the recent articles in The New York Times, “Bicycle Chic Gains Speed,” and in The Wall Street Journal, “The Season of Biker Chic,” both placed in the style section. In new media, bike fashion has become a common theme for the increasing number of blogs, take for example, Velo Vogue, Velo Chic NYC, Copenhagen Cycle Chic, and Riding Pretty just to name a few. Even solely fashion driven blogs, such as the Sartorialist, started to include a biking category. Curiously, the bike industry itself has been a laggard in responding to this dimension of biking, still consumed with the logo and lycra side of biking. But times are changing. At the Interbike trade show in Las Vegas last month, there was a cool fashion show that that went all the way down to bike lingerie and guys taking their pants off.
Interbike is mostly a guy thing. We don’t have the attendance statistics, but anyone who goes can attest that women are a minority as exhibitors and attendees. As a result Interbike is, well, lacking in visual and fashion appeal in the same way that a male-dominated automotive, golf, or hunting exposition might be. But this year each afternoon Interbike hosted the 2010 Ready to Ride Fashion Show, well choreographed by Momentum Magazine and our Pedal Savvy friends, with a fast paced circular runaway of models cruising around on bikes.
We are not fashion critics at PUBLIC, in fact quite the opposite. We think that anything goes on bikes and our PUBLIC bikes are especially designed for everyday wear. And we’re not exactly sure how bike lingerie from Movmoda really functions for the everyday bicyclist, but we like to see boundaries being pushed. We loved the variety of color and pattern, and the fact that the show included a full range of accessories, complete outfits, and great attention to detail. Kudos to Momentum.
The fashion show is another example of women leading the industry in new directions. But it is a sea of change culturally. I was asked recently by the Daily Beast to write up what I considered to be the leading innovations in the industry. What I came up with was “more women riders.” Here is a sampling of the show. We’re all working together with new media to make sure that what happens in Vegas does not always stay in Vegas.
Papergirl SF Hits The Streets With Art
PUBLIC was pleased to support Papergirl SF. Papergirl, as self-described, is a “mail-art and delivery systems art project that is participatory, analogue, non-commercial, and impulsive. ” We love seeing the way in which art creates community, fun, and connects to our mission about getting more people on bicycles. This past Sunday our PUBLIC office served as the launch pad to roll up 1,700 pieces of art from over 100 artists from 52 different cities and 11 different countries. Hundreds of strangers on the streets of San Francisco received a nice surprise by a lovely posse of bicyclists giving away and throwing rolled up art on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Take a look our photos we took of the strangers who received their surprises.