Seattle Is Leading The Way

March 23rd, 2015

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 »

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Blue Bike Lane Divider 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 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.

Two Way Bike Lanes Davey Oil, pictured with his kids, is owner of G&O Family Cyclery in Greenwood. Behind them is Madi Carlson, author of FamilyRide.us, with her kids.

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:

Communities Graph Institute for Quality Communities Graph, University of Oklahoma

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!


Erik Spiekermann: Type Geek, Bike Geek

March 18th, 2015

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 »

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Erik's bike collection in Berlin

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.

Rob Forbes

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.

2010 PUBLIC Stripes

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.

Erik on a PUBLIC bike prototype.

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.

Poster designed by Erik for PUBLIC.

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.

Rapha + PUBLIC Giveaway Winner

February 12th, 2015

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 »

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Congrats to Elliott, the Rapha + PUBLIC Giveaway Winner!

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’s Valentine To The Bike

February 6th, 2015

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 »

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Image via henrymiller.org

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.

Image via henrymiller.org

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.

Cities Experiment Going Car-Free

January 24th, 2015

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 »

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Image by Chris Yunker via Flickr

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.

Image by Sergio Ruiz via Flickr

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.

Image by Aaron Bialick via StreetsBlog SF

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.

Why Public Streets Went To The Cars

January 22nd, 2015

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 »

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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.

This Free Bird: Most Inspiring Customer Story of 2014

December 27th, 2014

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 »

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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.

Made In A Free World

November 29th, 2014

PUBLIC is pleased to be selected as one of the first 9 Made in the Free World companies. As part of this movement, we’ve committed to be a part of a network of buyers and suppliers dedicated to rooting out modern slavery in our supply chains. We were introduced to Justin Dillon, founder of Made… Read more »

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PUBLIC is pleased to be selected as one of the first 9 Made in the Free World companies.

As part of this movement, we’ve committed to be a part of a network of buyers and suppliers dedicated to rooting out modern slavery in our supply chains.

We were introduced to Justin Dillon, founder of Made in the Free World, through one our amazing contractors who helped get our flagship Hayes Valley store up and running. We met Justin and his colleague Kyle Buetzow and were inspired by their efforts to educate people about the 29 million people living as modern-day slaves who are forced to work for little or no pay.

They’re an inspiring group powered by lots of heart and a commitment to improving the lives of the least fortunate among us. We’re thankful for their work.

Through the use of SlaveryFootprint.org, Made in the Free World has helped educate over 22 million people about how modern slavery is connected to the products we use everyday.

And now Made in the Free World has engaged the business community, including PUBLIC, to leverage our purchasing power to eradicate modern slavery in our supply chains.

Each company is using Made In A Free World’s revolutionary software called FRDM™ (Forced Labor Risk Determination & Mitigation), which allows PUBLIC to better understand and influence our supply chain.

Learn more about Made in the Free World and the other companies participating that #GiveFRDM to the world, including Master & Muse, LSTN Headphones, Cotopaxi, Senda Athletics, Worthy Granola, Nisolo, Popinjay, and Yellow Leaf Hammocks.

Our Rudy’s + PUBLIC Bikes Giveaway Winner

October 16th, 2014

The lucky winner of our Rudy’s Barbershop + PUBLIC Giveaway is Jeff Gang from Boston. Jeff is a regular commuter who bikes almost every day, including through most of the winter. He’s a big supporter (and former board member) of the Boston Cyclists Union. We’re excited to hear Jeff’s perspective on bicycling in Boston. He… Read more »

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The lucky winner of our Rudy’s Barbershop + PUBLIC Giveaway is Jeff Gang from Boston.

Jeff is a regular commuter who bikes almost every day, including through most of the winter. He’s a big supporter (and former board member) of the Boston Cyclists Union.

We’re excited to hear Jeff’s perspective on bicycling in Boston. He says, “The Boston Cyclists Union is an awesome group – one of the biggest reasons that bike culture and community are really taking over here in Boston. I’ve been here since 2011, and it’s amazing how much things are changing for the better for cyclists. I started biking everywhere in college. I was lucky enough to spend a summer with Climate Summer, a bike-powered summer of grassroots action against climate change. When I moved to Boston, I knew that biking was the best way to get around.”

Jeff says, “I strongly believe that more people would bike if it felt safer, and if they didn’t feel like they had to buy a whole new wardrobe.Now we’ve got lots of events like the Boston Bike Party and city-focused shops like Bicycle Belle. Change is happening, and it’s bike-powered! I got involved with the bike community here more than two years ago because traveling the city by bike made me so happy and free — and I wanted to help more people get out of cars, off the crowded subway, and onto bikes. We’ve already got our first cycletracks taking shape in Boston! I am looking forward to riding an upright PUBLIC bike.”

We at PUBLIC look forward to seeing Jeff riding his new PUBLIC!

The Cities That Play Together Stay Together

October 7th, 2014

By riding a bike, you instantly become a more connected part of your community and a little happier. It’s the reason why one of our taglines is “Ride a Bike. Smile More.” Since the concepts of fun and urban engagement are important to us, we took notice when a recent article on the importance of… Read more »

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By riding a bike, you instantly become a more connected part of your community and a little happier. It’s the reason why one of our taglines is “Ride a Bike. Smile More.” Since the concepts of fun and urban engagement are important to us, we took notice when a recent article on the importance of “play” in cities passed by our monitors.

The article from The Guardian entitled “Playable Cities: the city that plays together, stays together” makes the case that our culture is becoming increasingly more isolated by technology. So by cultivating activities in your city that bring joy – like “Zoobombing” every Sunday on a zany bike in Portland – you create an environment that’s active, happier and paves the way for a more cohesive city. This article specifically highlights quirky, city-wide events like those illustrated above and below.

Play in cities takes many forms. Here are a few we found and a few we snapped with our own cameras.

Open Streets: NationwideAn increasing number of cities around the world organize Open Streets, which opens public streets for people to walk, bicycle, play, and connect with each other. They’re called Sunday Streets in San Francisco and Berkeley, CicLAvia in Los Angeles, and Sunday Parkways in Portland, Oregon.

Bring Your Own Big Wheels: San Francisco, CA – Adults don costumes and zoom down one of the curviest and steepest streets in San Francisco on big wheel bikes every Easter.

ZooBombing: Portland, OREvery Sunday night adults on kid’s bikes and art bikes careen down a hill near the Oregon Zoo.

Art Installation: Chicago, ILA water art installation geared towards children (but clearly adults were having fun too).

Break Dancing on the Streets in BarcelonaThe simple act of dancing in the streets is a sign of play in the city of Barcelona.