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.

 

Reading, Riding + Arithmetic

October 2nd, 2014

  You don’t need a high IQ to see why bikes and colleges are a good fit. Colleges are places where higher education and progressive thought flourish, so a transportation form like biking that’s simple and affordable, environmentally-friendly and cultivates a sense of community and connection, just makes sense. Plus, because most campuses are flat,… Read more »

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You don’t need a high IQ to see why bikes and colleges are a good fit. Colleges are places where higher education and progressive thought flourish, so a transportation form like biking that’s simple and affordable, environmentally-friendly and cultivates a sense of community and connection, just makes sense. Plus, because most campuses are flat, relatively car-free and with buildings significantly apart from each other, zipping to and from via bike is a logical choice.

Occidental College in Los Angeles has been partnering with PUBLIC bikes for a few years now to provide PUBLIC bikes for their free student bike share program. We’re pumped to see how much the Occidental Bike Share Program has grown over the years and it’s so cool to see our bikes being put to such good use on a daily basis.



Occidental College is a great role model for other campuses interested in starting a bike share program. They started small in 2011 with just four aging and poorly maintained bikes to rent. Now according to their head mechanic, Charles Deffarges, the program has grown to include over 24 well-kept PUBLIC bikes, in orange and cream to match the college’s colors.

In addition to well maintained bikes, they now have a dedicated and fully stocked bike workshop where as soon as a bike rental comes in, someone is waiting to ride it out. “Right now our fleet is fully rented,” said Deffarges. “Demand is through the roof and we’re looking to have 30 bikes available to rent by 2015.”

We have years of experience customizing PUBLIC bikes for organizations. With enough quantity and lead-time we can even create bikes in the color of your college or company. If you’re interested in partnering with PUBLIC to create a custom fleet, please get in touch.

The PUBLIC Backstory with American Cyclery

September 23rd, 2014

We’re really lucky to have great bike shop dealers around the country carrying our bikes and introducing new people to the PUBLIC. We’ve got bike shop dealers in Chicago, Fresno, Seattle, Portland, New Orleans, Brooklyn, and many other cities. All these bike shop dealers have different PUBLIC bikes in stock at their respective stores, but… Read more »

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We’re really lucky to have great bike shop dealers around the country carrying our bikes and introducing new people to the PUBLIC. We’ve got bike shop dealers in Chicago, Fresno, Seattle, Portland, New Orleans, Brooklyn, and many other cities. All these bike shop dealers have different PUBLIC bikes in stock at their respective stores, but more importantly they can special order the PUBLIC bike of your choice even if they don’t. You’ll hopefully get great customer service from them and establish a bike maintenance relationship with them.

In our home town of San Francisco, besides our PUBLIC stores, our only other local dealer is American Cyclery, the oldest independent bike shop in SF. American Cyclery is a really special dealer to PUBLIC, not only because of its rich San Francisco legacy, but because we developed the initial prototype PUBLIC bikes in partnership with American Cyclery.

American Cyclery has been around since 1941 and it looks like your typical bike shop – chock full of bikes, parts, gear, with a bustling mechanic’s workshop and a mascot, the lovable Golden Retriever, Lanikai. But American Cyclery is more than a bike shop for stock bikes and services (though it does both with professional ease). It’s the go-to spot for bike aficionados. American Cyclery is an excellent place for those interested in customized bikes and breathing life into vintage bike finds.

The owner of American Cyclery, Bradley Woehl, is one of those aforementioned bike aficionados. He’s an avid bike collector and it’s pretty safe to say, a bike historian. The basement of American Cyclery is not only full of bikes, but is also home to perhaps the city’s most comprehensive (and little known) bike library. VeloNews magazines from throughout the 20th century and oversized photo albums full of decades old bike-related newspaper clippings, all line up the shelves in American Cyclery’s basement.

PUBLIC’s founder Rob Forbes was a customer at American Cyclery before PUBLIC got its start. Both Bradley and Rob shared a mutual love of vintage bikes, and when Rob got the bug to design a modern version based on classic vintage bikes, Bradley’s bike library became the place of inspiration. According to Rob, “Bradley’s love for classic bikes and his knowledge was contagious. He helped me find bikes like the classic French Mercier [shown below] from the 50’s (all aluminum) and this British Holdsworth [shown below]. Both are still in the PUBLIC collection and sources of inspiration to us.”

Rob’s goal was to capture the beauty of those early British and Mid-Century French bikes, but to modernize them as Bradley puts it, “into simple, good looking bikes that adults both look and feel good on.”


Working together, they came up with six bike designs that met their criteria of simple, clean lines, with a fresh take. Rob’s background in design and color inspired him to make those bikes in bold colors. It was those first bikes that set the PUBLIC tone and the brand was born in 2010.

We’re proud that American Cyclery sells PUBLIC bikes and their full service bike shop is also an excellent place to get PUBLIC bikes serviced, especially if you live on the westside of San Francisco further away from our PUBLIC store in Hayes Valley.

Visit American Cyclery at 510 Frederick St, San Francisco, CA 94117.

Robin Williams: A Reflection

August 22nd, 2014

  With Robin Williams’ passing this past month, the San Francisco Bay Area lost one of its best ambassadors to the world at large and also to the world of biking. I had the privilege of meeting him a few times and knowing him a little.  I am not unusual in this regard. Robin was… Read more »

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With Robin Williams’ passing this past month, the San Francisco Bay Area lost one of its best ambassadors to the world at large and also to the world of biking. I had the privilege of meeting him a few times and knowing him a little.  I am not unusual in this regard.

Robin was a very accessible person, especially to those with a love for bikes.  Many local bike shop owners and bike related charities were also acquaintances of his. He rode the same Marin County routes like Paradise Loop that Bay Area riders frequent. He loved bikes on a number of levels and his obsession was as legendary as his humor.

Robin gave me a tour of his 50+ bike collection at his 60th birthday party. He housed his bike collection in a big garage in Napa and it was filled with amazing road bikes dating back several decades.  In this garage he was “a kid in a candy store.”

Robin had a few bikes by the celebrated Italian bike builder Dario Pegoretti, a bike builder we both respected and admired.  I saw the two of them at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in 2008. The header image and the shot below are ones I took of Robin with Dario at the Portland show.

Read this excellent The Wall Street Journal article about Robin and Dario and you’ll learn about yet another legendary side of Robin Williams – his generosity and heart.

He even once gave a bike to Conan O’Brien to cheer him up. He was like that. Watch Conan tell his funny story.

Robin Williams was well known at Bay Area bikes shops for his patronage. He spread his good will around, exemplified by his generous contributions to non-profits and support for the arts in general. Trip for Kids, a San Rafael based charity that takes bike donations and gives the bikes to needy kids who cannot afford new bikes, was an organization that Robin continually supported.

We all know Robin Williams’ unique talents as an actor and comedian.  At heart he was an enthusiastic boy who loved bikes for the same reasons that we do – the freedom they bring, the jolt of a little friendly competition and rebellion, and a lot of smiling. As Jason Gay from The Wall Street Journal recounted, when asked “why he loved riding a bicycle so much. I’ll always remember his answer, because it was wonderful and true. He said it was the closest you can get to flying.”

I wouldn’t use the phrase Rest In Peace for Robin Williams.  He was too high energy for resting in peace. His spirit is perhaps on a bike somewhere, making those fortunate enough to be biking along side him buckle over in laughter.

Best,

Rob Forbes

Please send any personal comments to me here.

PUBLIC D8i Contest Winner Andrew Stone

July 15th, 2014

  We held a contest recently upon the release of our new PUBLIC D8i and gave away this premium commuter bike loaded with all the bells and whistles. Well friends, we’ve picked our winner. Drum roll, please. And the lucky winner of this loaded set of wheels is Andrew Stone of Salt Lake City! Congrats,… Read more »

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We held a contest recently upon the release of our new PUBLIC D8i and gave away this premium commuter bike loaded with all the bells and whistles. Well friends, we’ve picked our winner.

Drum roll, please.

And the lucky winner of this loaded set of wheels is Andrew Stone of Salt Lake City!

Congrats, Andrew! He joins a growing group of lucky past PUBLIC contest winners, including Lisa, Stan, Manuel, Mark & Lauren.

We asked Andrew to share a bit about himself and here’s what we learned. Andrew moved to Salt Late City in the 90’s and has been bike commuting ever since. The city of Salt Lake has improved greatly over the years he has been riding there, making big strides in accommodating both bike commuters and recreational cyclists.

Andrew not only work commutes daily via bike, but he and his family bike to Farmers Markets, local festivals and events whenever they can. He also runs this website 365 Things To Do in Salt Lake City.

We’re happy our contest winner is already a biking regular and Andrew has assured us winning this bike will take his riding to the next level of style and fun.

A huge thanks to all our participants in this contest and stay tuned for the next PUBLIC giveaway!

Our Sweet New Spot in Hayes Valley

May 30th, 2014

Talk to any local San Franciscan and the Hayes Valley neighborhood of today is nothing like it was 20 years ago. As we’ve written about before, the demolition of the Central Freeway that once ran right through Hayes Valley led to a revitalization of the neighborhood that continues to this day. We are so enthusiastic… Read more »

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Talk to any local San Franciscan and the Hayes Valley neighborhood of today is nothing like it was 20 years ago. As we’ve written about before, the demolition of the Central Freeway that once ran right through Hayes Valley led to a revitalization of the neighborhood that continues to this day. We are so enthusiastic to be a part of that growth with our newly opened store in Hayes Valley.

Hayes Valley is a draw for so many reasons like top-notch restaurants and a wealth of unique, independent retailers that lend vibrancy and true neighborhood charm to this urban street. And if you’ve got a sweet tooth, Hayes Valley won’t disappoint. Watch your ice-cream get freshly churned at Smitten or choose your own frozen yogurt blends at Loving Cup. Pick your favorite macaroon purveyor from multiple locations and ogle at chocolates too pretty to eat (well, almost) at Christopher Elbow. Take the cake with a slice of chocolate nemesis or the light-as-air russian honey cake or the always picture perfect strawberry tomboy. Then indulge by the spoonful with over 108 flavors of bread pudding (probably not all at once).

When you’ve reached your sugar high, stop by our new Hayes Valley store and take a test ride–either to work off the treats or make room for more. We’ve got sweet new rides and accessories that are perfect for hauling all sorts of goodies, think nifty bungees and baskets perfect for pie toting and cup holders ready to be filled with sweet New Orleans Iced Coffee.