Wow – we’re almost across the finish line. After months of planning and construction, we’re proud to announce that we’re officially opening our PUBLIC store in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood on Saturday, April 25 starting from 11am-7pm. Check out our Seattle store hours after April 25.
When Lynn is not behind the microphone she can be found hiking up to Griffith Observatory in LA, hitting a yoga class, or spending a lazy Sunday morning reading comics with her boyfriend, Arthur.
Lynn doesn’t currently have a bike and can’t wait to take to the roads on her new PUBLIC bike and “go for spins around Los Feliz when the weather gets nicer.”
Congratulations Lynn and many happy trails!
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Designers tend to be opinionated, aesthetically conscious and self-professed perfectionists. So when a designer like Eric Heiman selects a PUBLIC bike for his life, we feel especially complimented.
Eric and his business partner, Adam Brodsley run Volume Inc, a design agency that “specializes in creating artifacts, systems and experiences that activate people.” Eric has a background in architecture and music and teaches at California College of The Arts.
Eric has been a part of the PUBLIC family since early on by contributing one of his designs to our PUBLIC works project, and recently designing my new book, See for Yourself. But long before I knew Eric, he knew PUBLIC. He was one of our first customers back in 2009 and still commutes daily on his PUBLIC bike.
Eric was game enough to let us interview him about all things bike and design related.
Read on to learn more about Eric, one of the top talents in design today.
PUBLIC: How long have you been riding bikes?
Eric: Since I was a wee pup growing up in small town Pennsylvania.
PUBLIC: Do you remember your very first bike? If so, please describe it.
Eric: Yes. I was 5 or 6 and it was a red Schwinn with a banana seat. My dad put me on it a bit prematurely, and I proceeded to have a traumatic wipeout out on the sidewalk in front of our house. I worked my way back via training wheels for the next few months.
PUBLIC: How did you come to love bikes?
Eric: I think it was more out of necessity than anything else. If I wanted to get from point A to point B (especially in the years before I could drive) outside of walking the bike was the best option. When it wasn’t winter, anyway.
These were the days when we kids could run wild as long as we were home by dinner. It was good exercise, too! I also went through the inevitable “dirt bike” phase of popping wheelies, ramp jumps, etc. Had a few mishaps there, too, and I’m amazed I didn’t get seriously hurt.
Those were the days of ignorance-is-bliss parenting, which needs to come back! Eating dirt as a kid builds character! (Then again, I’m not a parent.) I had a classic blue Schwinn ten-speed all through high school, and then got a Bianchi mountain bike (which, coincidentally, the first design firm I worked at created the graphics for) in college. A bike has been a preferred form of transportation all my life, really.
PUBLIC: How did you come by your PUBLIC bike?
Eric: I actually have two. When the first PUBLIC bikes warehouse moved in across from our old studio space on Harrison Street, I walked in one day and was struck by both the bikes and the congenial staff. I had been looking for a new commuter bicycle after years of riding in the city on my mountain bike. After one test ride I was sold!
The second one I received for contributing one of the PUBLIC Works posters, and it is the one I ride now. The first one has become one of the communal bikes we keep around the Volume office for anyone to use.
PUBLIC: How does bicycling fit into your lifestyle?
Eric: Cycling is my main way of getting around town. I usually bike to and from work plus everything in between, client meetings included. It’s my main form of physical exercise. The hills in SF are no joke. I’ll take the fresh air and a little traffic over a gym any day. My car is almost 13 years-old now and has barely 45,000 miles on it. I should probably just sell it already.
PUBLIC: How often do you ride?
Eric: Almost every day, weather permitting. I’ll sometimes do longer rides on weekends, like to the beach and back.
PUBLIC: How does your PUBLIC Bike reflect your personal style?
Eric: I’ve never been a “flashy-style”-type of person—I would never ride a “fixie” bike or wear tennis shoes with a suit, just to name two things that come to mind. (Though I do like to sport orange pants every so often…) But, obviously, I do care about good design and for me that’s always been about a balance of style, function and accessibility to more than just an elite cadre of the high-minded. The PUBLIC bikes check off all these boxes.
PUBLIC: Describe your perfect day on a bike?
Eric: A day when I don’t have to wear layers! Haha. Any day I’m on my bike—minus riding through a rainstorm—is a perfect day, really. I’m easy. It’s such a great grounding and stress-alleviating activity for me.
Also, one of my favorite things to do when I travel is try the bike share programs in other cities. The last time I was in Paris, New York and Minneapolis, I barely took the subways or cabs. Even late at night. You see so much more a bike.
PUBLIC: Are bicycles an important part of the community you live in?
Eric: Relative to other American cities, San Francisco and the East Bay have pretty great bike cultures. But compared to some European cities—Amsterdam, Copenhagen—we have a long way to go before biking is as embedded into everyday life as it is in those cities. Most drivers here still seem to view us as nuisances that are in the way, not as equal partners on the road.
PUBLIC: How would you describe your creative style?
Eric: Modern (in the classic sense) and understated, but always with a flash of the idiosyncratic, unique and current. The Steve Zissou-like red cap I often wear and our YBCA campaign from a few years ago both fit this description, I think. Personally, I don’t like to call attention to myself too much. At the same time I don’t want to be like everyone else. I want to feel free to express myself as I truly am. So, yes, I will dance like a mad fiend if the right music is on. Or take the karaoke microphone if it’s handed to me and there’s a song I want to sing. In my work, I want to create something unique and engaging, but not at the expense of what it was originally commissioned to do. “Authentic” is a word that is way too overused today, but that’s the ideal I try to hold myself and our work to.
PUBLIC: Where do you find inspiration?
Eric: I tend to be a sponge in terms of inspiration, and the internet age has wrought havoc on my ability to actually stop absorbing and start making things. But I definitely gravitate more towards populist narrative forms—literature, film, music, graphic novels—than I do rarefied art and design (though as a graphic designer, my love of visual culture is hard coded into my DNA). I’m as much interested in the emotional and experiential potential of my work than I am the object nature of it. Getting it out to audiences beyond just other creatives is important, too. At Volume we always like to say, “It’s not what the design is, it’s what it does that’s important.” I like a beautiful, well-crafted item as much as the next person, but I’m equally interested in how design can enable, inspire, and provoke. I love the physical and visual quality of vinyl LPs and sleeves, but I still buy them primarily to enjoy the music. I love my bike because I can ride it (plus that awesome gear-shift mechanism!), not just ogle it behind a showroom window.
Inspiration also comes from just doing the work. It’s harder for me these days as the co-principal of a (depending on the day) 7-10 person studio to focus as much on the actual doing of the work. But when I do get the chance—even if it is just throwing ideas around in our weekly collaborative meetings or doing rough sketches—the best feeling in the world is watching design manifest through making. Today, it feels like there’s never been more books, seminars, email subscriptions, websites, and conferences on how to be happy in life and how to be inspired in your work. I realize I’m very fortunate to have this creative life I’ve made for myself, but for me the solution has always been simple: Figure out the work you want to do and then just do it.
PUBLIC: Any upcoming projects/partnerships/designs that you are excited about?
Eric: We’re doing a lot more environment and exhibition-related work at Volume now. Even though the scale of these jobs makes them tough to wrangle at times, the larger scale and experiential possibilities are really appealing. I also think the design we collaborated on with your founder Rob Forbes for his book, See for Yourself, turned out well and I’m excited to see go out into the world. (Yes, that was a shameless plug, but I really am proud of that work!)
On a more personal note, I’m trying to get a writing project about my love of music off the ground in the coming year. Not sure what the format will be yet, but I’m guessing it will be influenced in equal parts by Nick Hornby, Chuck Klosterman, the “33 1/3” book series, and “Freaks and Geeks.”
If you enjoyed this interview with Eric Heiman, check out our interview with designer Erik Spiekermann.
Seattle Bike Lane Divider / Image from SDOT If you haven’t heard the news, we’re opening our first PUBLIC store outside the Bay Area next month in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. We couldn’t be more excited about joining forces with our sister city to the north to advance our shared mission to grow cities that… Read more »-->
If you haven’t heard the news, we’re opening our first PUBLIC store outside the Bay Area next month in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. We couldn’t be more excited about joining forces with our sister city to the north to advance our shared mission to grow cities that are more bike, pedestrian, and transit friendly. There’s a lot happening in Seattle to be excited about. Take its creative bright blue bike lane separators, as one clever example.
It is home to the most influential walking and biking advocacy organizations in the country. The Cascade Bicycle Club is leading the way, along with allied organizations like Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and local blogs like Seattle Bike Blog, to push for changes to Seattle’s public spaces. The city is investing heavily in bike infrastructure, with new protected bike lanes and a new bike sharing system just rolling out.
The new safe bike lanes on 2nd Ave have tripled bike traffic already. It’s also one of the safest cities in the US for pedestrians and cyclists. The Seattle area has long been one of our top markets for online orders, and our friends at Ride Bicycles in NE Roosevelt, Seattle have been among our top independent PUBLIC dealers for years. We look forward to joining forces with them across town!
But the simplest explanation we can find for why Seattle is quickly becoming one of America’s great livable cities is summed up in this chart:
Despite all the hills, and the rain, and the sprawl, more people in Seattle get to work without a car than any other city on the west coast, besides our own. That’s not just because people in Seattle are a special breed, but because city leaders and effective advocacy groups are bringing smarter design to their city, making it a friendlier place for humans to get around, not just cars. At PUBLIC, this livable cities movement is one we’re proud to be a part of, and we can’t wait to help Seattle give San Francisco a run for its money.
But the real question is: when the 49ers play the Seahawks next season, what colors will we wear? Stay tuned!
Since day one, many designers have been involved in shaping PUBLIC into what it is today. But none of them are more fanatical about bikes than Erik Spiekermann. He’s the only guy I know who has more bikes (a total of 13) and rides more often than I do. He rides daily in either of… Read more »-->
Since day one, many designers have been involved in shaping PUBLIC into what it is today. But none of them are more fanatical about bikes than Erik Spiekermann. He’s the only guy I know who has more bikes (a total of 13) and rides more often than I do. He rides daily in either of his two bike centric residences in Berlin, Germany and Tiburon, California.
Erik and I go back about a decade, starting when I had him design some house numbers for DWR. I learned then that he was opinionated about many things and a perfectionist in everything he touches. He contributed to the core elements of the PUBLIC brand including our logo and the original stripes on our bikes. He is a world renowned designer with numerous awards and typefaces under his belt, a master Tweeter, a modernist extraordinaire and a good friend.
Below is our interview with Erik where he shares how both design and bikes inform his life. Enjoy.
PUBLIC: Do you remember your first bike? If so, please describe it.
Erik: Yes. My neighbor gave it me when I was about 10. I painted it green and it had silver spokes and no gears. It had just one little rubber pad for a brake on the front wheel. And it was too tall for me so I couldn’t sit on the saddle but had to stick one leg under the crossbar to get to the other pedal. All that said, it got me to school.
PUBLIC: How did you come to love bikes?
Erik: They offered independence. I would cover distances that were too far and boring to walk and I could carry things without effort, like books, to school. If the weather got really bad, I would go and take a tram. So we never needed a car (not that we had one while I lived with my parents). My dad drove a 20-ton truck and I learnt to drive on one of them.
The main thing about a bike for me has always been that I use them all the time, not just for sports and not dressed in Spandex. I get on my bike in whatever I’m wearing, even if it is a Tuxedo for a posh reception. It is the most efficient and fun way to get around.
PUBLIC: How often do you ride?
Erik: Every day. In Berlin, I take my bike to work and for errands, including shopping (that’s why I need different bikes for different tasks). In London, I cover distances much faster than I would by public transport. Here in Tiburon, I take my bike to the ferry over to San Francisco and run my errands there on my PUBLIC D8. And we ride the Paradise Loop as often as we can on our steel road bikes. But I wish I had more reasons to use the bike every day.
PUBLIC: You designed the original identity stripes featured on every PUBLIC bike. Please talk to us a little about your inspiration for the stripes.
Erik: Stripes are a classic bicycle theme and also prevalent in other sports (Adidas et al). They are a good way to identify a bike without it taking over the whole frame, like the classic bike brands do. Stripes work well on bike tubes where there is a lack of real estate. The stripes can be adapted in colour and frequency and also used on other media. It’s more subtle than repeating a logo.
PUBLIC: Why do you have 13 bikes?
Erik: They are in 4 locations (1 Amsterdam, 2 London, 2 SF, 8 Berlin) and most serve a different purpose. A few are just there because they’re beautiful.
PUBLIC: How does bicycling fit into your lifestyle?
Erik: I ride to work in Berlin and I get around on a bike in the other cities as well. Just practical.
PUBLIC: Describe your perfect day on a bike in Germany?
Erik: Going to the studio, running errands. Not a special effort, no spandex gear, no special shoes, just moving around the city.
PUBLIC: How does your PUBLIC bike reflect your personal style?
Erik: It’s practical and effortless to use. It has a few gears for San Francisco and a luggage rack to carry my shopping and other gear.
PUBLIC: What does the word “public” mean to you?
Erik: Bikes are for everybody, not just for sports
PUBLIC: Where do you find inspiration?
Erik: Life. Travel, people, read, listen.
PUBLIC: You mention that Apple could do better than Helvetica. What font would you suggest?
Erik: One that I would design for them. A lot of people are using my Fira typeface as system font on Apple Yosemite. We originally designed Fira for Firefox/Mozilla and it is now Open Source. The hack for the system replacement is on Github.
PUBLIC: Any upcoming projects/ partnerships/ designs that you are excited about?
Erik: Yes, a letterpress studio in Berlin.
PUBLIC: Anything else you’d like to add?
Erik: Bikes are practical, fun and healthy. They get you around, you see things and they make you feel good.
We’re excited to announce that the winner of our Rapha + PUBLIC Giveaway is Elliott S. from El Dorado Hills, CA. Elliott grew up riding mountain bikes around Folsom Lake, CA. In college he recalls riding his rusty single speed road bike between his classes and his grocery job, and then going for trail rides… Read more »-->
We’re excited to announce that the winner of our Rapha + PUBLIC Giveaway is Elliott S. from El Dorado Hills, CA.
Elliott grew up riding mountain bikes around Folsom Lake, CA. In college he recalls riding his rusty single speed road bike between his classes and his grocery job, and then going for trail rides on the weekends.
What draws him to riding is the convenience and the freedom. “When I bike I don’t have to worry about parking or spending money on car insurance,” said Elliott.
When he previously lived in San Francisco he bike commuted daily to work and loved seeing the bike infrastructure improvements in the city, like bike lanes along the Embarcadero. Since bikes have always been a part of his life and he believes in encouraging the biking lifestyle, he donates regularly to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
Currently, Elliott is living his “dream job” as a videographer for Kirkwood Mountain Resort. When the gig ends, he’s excited to move back to the Bay Area where he plans to “ride this PUBLIC D8i Chrome everywhere!”
We look forward to seeing Elliott riding around the city on his stylish new wheels. Sign up for our e-newsletter to hear about our next giveaway!
Henry Miller, the American author and artist, had the middle name of Valentine. And in addition to perhaps his best known work, Tropic of Cancer, he also penned a book at the end of his career that one could call his “valentine to the bicycle” entitled, My Bike and Other Friends. A friend gave us… Read more »-->
Henry Miller, the American author and artist, had the middle name of Valentine. And in addition to perhaps his best known work, Tropic of Cancer, he also penned a book at the end of his career that one could call his “valentine to the bicycle” entitled, My Bike and Other Friends.
A friend gave us the below poster featuring a quote from Miller’s My Bike and Other Friends. We’re sharing it with you now because it’s Valentine’s Day and this quote represents our kind of Valentine.
The poster comes from The Henry Miller Library in Big Sur, California. If you ever have the pleasure of visiting Big Sur, make sure to check out this Library. It’s an amazing resource for literature and art, as well as a venue for top notch musical talents We’ve been to Philip Glass concerts there and they have featured artist like Patti Smith and Laurie Anderson in the past.
While we don’t recommend riding a single speed through Big Sur, smoking while riding the way Miller does, or sleeping with your bike as he suggests in his quote, we do appreciate Miller’s heartfelt sentiment that the bike can be one of your best silent companions.
We recently ran across an article called “7 Cities That Are Starting To Go Car-Free,” in Fast Company. As urban cities become denser with more people and cars, the article raises the question – are so many cars really needed or do they just cause more congestion and degrades our quality of life? The article talks… Read more »-->
We recently ran across an article called “7 Cities That Are Starting To Go Car-Free,” in Fast Company. As urban cities become denser with more people and cars, the article raises the question – are so many cars really needed or do they just cause more congestion and degrades our quality of life?
The article talks about the city of Milan (shown above) that’s going so far as to offer free public transit vouchers to commuters who pledge not head to the office via their car. Check out the rest of the cites that are experimenting with this concept in the Fast Company article.
Over the holidays in San Francisco, the city experimented with this concept by transforming a few blocks of one of the busiest streets in the downtown area of the city, Stockton Street, into a car-free oasis (see image above). The result? People loved it for providing a welcome respite smack in-between the most traffic-laden streets of San Francisco.
We can think of a few other streets in San Francisco that might be better without cars entirely, like Powell Street pictured above. The confluence of cars, taxis and (because it’s San Francisco) iconic cable cars make it not only a mess for vehicles, but pedestrians as well. SF Streets Blog reiterates this in the article, “Auto-Clogged Powell Street Could Be a Car-Free Haven,” where they make a valid case for why this street is ripe for transforming into living pedestrian area.
Are there streets in your city that would be better served if cars were removed from the equation? Use #publicbikes on social media and let us know.
What if you didn’t have to legally be in a crosswalk to cross the street? If you could just cross the street whenever you wanted – without waiting for a green light or a car to pass. Basically, imagine if jaywalking wasn’t a crime? 100 years ago this was the case. Adults could cross the… Read more »-->
What if you didn’t have to legally be in a crosswalk to cross the street? If you could just cross the street whenever you wanted – without waiting for a green light or a car to pass. Basically, imagine if jaywalking wasn’t a crime?
100 years ago this was the case. Adults could cross the streets without looking both ways and children could play in them freely. The shot above of Manhattan in 1914 illustrates the streets as open and active public spaces.
Most of us don’t question why jaywalking is illegal. We don’t because crosswalks and green lights are advisable in this day and age if you don’t want to get run over by a car. It’s just the nature of roads that rules need to be established for safety, right? Not exactly.
The reason streets were redefined as being owned by cars instead of public spaces, and the origin and negative connotation of the word “jaywalking” is a result of a successful and agressive marketing campaign staged by auto makers and manufacturers in the 1920’s.
As cars started to enter the scene in the mid-1920s (image above) people started to get hurt. Namely, the children and the elderly who had been using the streets freely before cars came onto the scene, were getting killed. Because of this dramatic spike in deaths, cars became demonized.
And the car industry wasn’t happy about this. So, they launched an agressive marketing campaign that painted the pedestrian who was silly enough to walk out in front of cars, as the fool.
A “jay” was another word for a “country bumpkin” or a “hick.” Someone who clearly didn’t know how to behave when in a city. The auto-industry created the term “jay-walking” to refer to this type of city person who didn’t know the proper way to behave when around cars. They used this term in their campaigns and went so far as to stage demonstrations with clowns and actors jaywalking across streets with cars nudging them to illustrate what a backwards practice walking across the street was.
For the full story, read “The forgotten history of how automakers invented the crime of jaywalking” via Vox.
At the heart of our mission at PUBLIC is our connection to our customers. Over the years we’ve heard countless touching stories about customers incorporating our bikes into their life events: engagements, weddings, birthdays, graduations, and yes, even as part of memorials. This year we learned an especially poignant story about a customer named Carrie,… Read more »-->
At the heart of our mission at PUBLIC is our connection to our customers. Over the years we’ve heard countless touching stories about customers incorporating our bikes into their life events: engagements, weddings, birthdays, graduations, and yes, even as part of memorials.
This year we learned an especially poignant story about a customer named Carrie, who suffered a stroke but by late October she had regained enough of her strength to get back on her bike.
As she wrote on her blog after the ride, “I RODE MY BIKE AROUND THE BLOCK…I have to tell you, it felt great to be outside. ON.MY.BIKE…I couldn’t go far and was pretty shaky, but I did it. And then I cried all the way home.”
The first image shown above is of Carrie with her arm triumphantly raised in the air after that first loop around the block.
For most of us, getting on our bike for our daily commute or weekend ride is not a big deal. But for someone like Carrie, it’s another story. Check out her blog, This Free Bird, for the complete story.
Carrie wrote to us saying, “My bike is a source of pure motivation and joy. That bike has given me such a sense of freedom.”
May the New Year be filled with optimism, new adventures, free birds, and let’s never take even the simple act of riding a bike for granted.