Halfway Is Not Enough

July 24th, 2014

PUBLIC is headquartered on both sides of the San Francisco Bay, with a new flagship store and design studio in Hayes Valley, SF, and a distribution center and office in Jack London Square, Oakland. I often enjoy taking the ferry across the bay to our Oakland office, but sometimes the best choice is to drive… Read more »

-->
Bike-able Bridges

Images courtesy of Rob Forbes, The Botster and Ipv Delft

PUBLIC is headquartered on both sides of the San Francisco Bay, with a new flagship store and design studio in Hayes Valley, SF, and a distribution center and office in Jack London Square, Oakland. I often enjoy taking the ferry across the bay to our Oakland office, but sometimes the best choice is to drive across the Bay Bridge.

Every time I sit in bridge traffic returning to San Francisco from the East Bay, I have two conflicting emotions. First, how majestic, elegant, and inspirational the new bridge is aesthetically –and second, how unfortunate, even cruel it is that even after spending $6.5 billion on the modern new eastern span that opened last fall, a person still can’t ride a bike across the bridge from the San Francisco to the East Bay. For those unfamiliar, you can only ride half way across!

Riding the bike lanes on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, you’re treated to a gorgeous, expansive view with incredible vistas that are a treat for tourists and locals alike. But there are no definite plans to complete the bike connection on the existing western span to San Francisco, which is an opportunity unfulfilled. Take Copenhagen, it’s already awash in bike-able bridges and it’s now considering creating the 2nd largest bike bridge in the world.

Bay Bridge Lights Image Courtesy of Greg Del Savio

We have made some world-class bridge designs in the Bay Area, the Golden Gate Bridge at the top of the list. It gets over 10 million visitors every year, and the bike ride across it is epic and loved by locals and tourists alike. The recent Bay Lights project on the west span of the Bay Bridge rivals any urban lighting you’ll see in Copenhagen or anywhere else in Europe.

The vision behind these grand works casts a shadow for cyclists with the halfway solution of the new Bay Bridge redo, and makes us realize that we are still playing catch up to many European cities when it comes to comprehensive progressive transportation solutions. At PUBLIC we sincerely hope there will enough public pressure on politicians and government executives who make transportation planning and funding decisions to eventually make the Bay Bridge fully open to bikes and pedestrians, not just cars.

Riding The Roads Less Ridden

June 25th, 2014

You know him through the bikes he develops at PUBLIC, but in his spare time our bike designer, Aaron Glick has been working on a very public side project, biking every single street in San Francisco and tracking it on his GPS. He completed his project just last month and we checked in with him about why in the… Read more »

-->

Images from top to bottom: A tiny, hidden alley in North Beach; Pops of color in the Bayview; A golden sunset in Sutro Heights; and fly fishing in Golden Gate Park.

You know him through the bikes he develops at PUBLIC, but in his spare time our bike designer, Aaron Glick has been working on a very public side project, biking every single street in San Francisco and tracking it on his GPS. He completed his project just last month and we checked in with him about why in the heck he did it and what he learned.

Aaron has a self-proclaimed fear of getting lost when biking. And part of his motivation for riding every SF road was to overcome this fear, “I thought if I rode every street I would never be lost again, right?” A daily commuter and trail biker, he also thought that because he rode regularly, he had been all over the city. His GPS route data proved otherwise, “I was in a cycling rut. I thought that if I attempted to ride every street I would surely shake things up and discover new routes and interesting places I’d never heard of.” He was also inspired by Brett Lobre, a San Franciscan who had previously tackled riding every road in San Francisco in his Ride Every Road project.

More than just adding a blue line to his GPS tracking, Aaron’s ride connected him to the community around him in a way he wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. “The public housing/projects were some of the most interesting parts of the city to me. Some of them were in awful condition and their confusing street layout and made them feel separated from the more affluent buildings and homes around them.” Others, he found were in prime SF locations atop hills with great views and were exceptionally well-maintained.

His ride also took him through a variety of unusual spots, like hidden gardens in the Bernal Heights neighborhood, congested alleyways in China Town, a recycled art garden in the Bayview and a huge sundial in Ingleside.

Have a question for Aaron about biking? Leave your comment on our blog and Aaron will respond!

 

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 »

-->

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.

PUBLIC Interview With Ellen Bennett of Hedley & Bennett

April 25th, 2014

Some of our customers are as passionate and detailed oriented about their products as we are about our bicycles. Ellen Bennett, founder of Hedley & Bennett, a chef’s apron manufacturer, is one of them. We interviewed Ellen and learned all about her love of aprons and our PUBLIC R16. Read on for the complete interview… Read more »

-->

Some of our customers are as passionate and detailed oriented about their products as we are about our bicycles. Ellen Bennett, founder of Hedley & Bennett, a chef’s apron manufacturer, is one of them. We interviewed Ellen and learned all about her love of aprons and our PUBLIC R16. Read on for the complete interview and then swing by her site for 10% off with promo code: SOFANCYPANTS.

PUBLIC: Tell us about your company and your products?
ELLEN: We’re an apron company that makes badass, functional and high quality aprons for chefs and restaurants all around the world.

PUBLIC: What inspires your creative work?
ELLEN: All the amazing, hardworking chefs we meet. We want to make them happy. We want to make them feel good about the way they look in the kitchen and feel inspired to be different and unique. We also love design and fun bright colors everywhere. Deep down, we’re all kids at heart and love to live life with the mentality that we can do anything!

PUBLIC: What details make your products unique?
ELLEN:
We hand pick really beautiful, unique fabrics like selvage denims from Japan and Italy. We make all of our aprons comfortable and functional. We wear them, wash them and put them through the ringer to make sure they are durable enough for our chefs

PUBLIC: How did you come by your PUBLIC bike?
ELLEN:
I saw a PUBLIC bike for the first time when my boyfriend Casey Caplowe, co-founder of GOOD Magazine, saw them and sent me a link. They were the most beautiful and clean looking bikes I had ever seen and I instantly wanted one.
Later that year I was in San Francisco walking around and I saw a sign for the PUBLIC bike shop. I ran into the store, picked the one I wanted and then took a picture and put it on Instagram saying “ I want it soooo bad !!”
Then in December Casey surprised me with the exact PUBLIC bike I had Instagramed from my San Francisco trip. First, he gave me a little box with a beautiful copper bell to put on the handle. And then the beautiful bike came out!

PUBLIC: How does bicycling fit into your lifestyle
ELLEN:
My office is in Downtown LA so when I have meetings near by I will use it to zip on over and I will ALWAYS take it inside the buildings with me, riding it down the hallway and parking it in the meeting room. People compliment the bike all day long and it sits parked in the entrance of our office.

PUBLIC: How does your PUBLIC bike reflect your personal style?
ELLEN:
I love big, bold, but clean design and this bike is exactly like that.

PUBLIC: Are bicycles an important part of the community you live in?
ELLEN: Definitely. LA is becoming such a green city, and with downtown being so close together, it’s easy to take the bike around town to restaurants and fabric shops around here.

PUBLIC: Any upcoming projects/partnerships/designs that you are excited about?
ELLEN: We are about to launch our amazing new chef coat line!

PUBLIC: Anything else you’d like to add?
ELLEN:
We love you!!

PUBLIC Response: The feeling is mutual!

 

Photos courtesy of Hedley & Bennett and Life&Thyme.  

Single-Speeds in Rome and at Home

November 22nd, 2013

I wrote a piece earlier this year that focused on Italian Women biking in Italy, and the biggest difference between Italy and the US might be that you see a lot more women riding on the streets than men. Lucky for us, we were in Italy again this past month for a two-week residency at… Read more »

-->


I wrote a piece earlier this year that focused on Italian Women biking in Italy, and the biggest difference between Italy and the US might be that you see a lot more women riding on the streets than men.

Lucky for us, we were in Italy again this past month for a two-week residency at the American Academy in Rome to participate in their visiting artist program. If you don’t know about the AAR, and you have serious interest in Italian culture, check them out. It is a remarkable institution that has various programs and is best known for the prestigious Rome Prize that is awarded to academics, designers, and artists. I was there to finish up a book about design found on the streets, and I took special note of the biking scene there. I focused on single-speeds, like the ones we’ve launched this month. They are very common in Rome, a city of Seven Hills, and the fact is that a single-speed bike will work for many of us in almost any urban environment.

Rome is now one of the best walking cities in the world and something of a poster child for the Livable Cities Movement of which PUBLIC is a member in spirit. In recent decades Rome has cleaned up its act by essentially banning cars from many parts of the city. Just two decades ago, cars – and the related noise and pollution – were so bad that it was frequently cited in tourist literature, along with pick pockets, as a dangerous urban element. All that has changed. Rome is now another beacon of optimism for other less progressive cities (like most in the US!)

Rome has actually been known for enlightened public policy dating back to Emperor Hadrian’s rule (117-138 AD) when many social policies were enacted to make the city safe and pleasant for the entire population. So today’s urban reforms have a lengthy tradition. OK, the Dark Ages and 20th Century car frenzy were serious interruptions to that tradition, but we see now that even the oldest cities in the world can adapt to a smarter way of getting around.

We’re Hiring. Help Build Walkable (and Bikeable) Cities

October 18th, 2013

If you want to know why I started PUBLIC, and why we feel constantly excited and accomplished about getting more people on bikes, watch this TED video. Jeff Speck articulates the reasons why the movement to make our cities more walkable and bikeable is perhaps one of the most important social initiatives in the US… Read more »

-->

If you want to know why I started PUBLIC, and why we feel constantly excited and accomplished about getting more people on bikes, watch this TED video. Jeff Speck articulates the reasons why the movement to make our cities more walkable and bikeable is perhaps one of the most important social initiatives in the US for the 21st century.

Jeff is a hero of mine, and a mentor. I have written about him and his recent book, Walkable City in a prior PUBLIC Opinion essay. I was privileged to work with him for two years when he headed up the NEA sponsored Mayors’ Institute on City Design, where designers, urbanists, and mayors get together and help solve design problems facing modern US cities.

Jeff’s talk is about ways the US can be more economically resilient, healthy, and environmentally sustainable by making our cities more walkable and bikeable. And he is not afraid to challenge some major issues with the path of development the US took in the 20th century. Watch this to learn why “the worse idea we’ve ever had [in the US] is suburban sprawl.”

Jeff Speck on Walkable Cities at TED

We’re Hiring

We are recruiting for several positions listed below. Additionally, we always have projects that need to be managed by self-directed part-time employees. If you have a friendly demeanor, curiosity, a college degree, solid computer skills, and a desire to change the world, please send us a note of interest and resume to jobs@publicbikes.com. All inquiries will be kept confidential, and we will follow up in more detail with any qualified applicant.

Online Marketing Associate – Part-Time or Full-Time

This person will take ownership for the success of our online marketing program and its impact on the overall growth of our online sales channel. This position could be a part-time contract or possibly full-time employee job based in San Francisco. You will use current online marketing technology, both internal and outsourced, to implement programs to enhance traffic (SEM and SEO), Google Analytics, and customer insights/merchandising. Pay depends on experience. Find out more and apply here.

IT Technical Support – Part-Time

This part-time IT Technical Support Contractor based in the San Francisco Bay Area will have technical know-how to serve as our in-house IT support point person related to PUBLIC’s technology systems, including our retail point of sales, e-commerce and inventory management, and basic office connectivity technology troubleshooting in a mixed Macintosh and Windows environment. This person will be familiar with all information systems used at PUBLIC, including hardware and software. Pay depends on experience. Learn more and apply here.

Retail Store Sales Associates – Part-Time

We are looking for part-time Retail Store Sales Associates immediately who are able to work on weekends and already be located in the Bay Area. Retail experience and references are essential, but you do not need to be a bike mechanic. For more information visit our website.

Buy a House Get a Free Bike

September 10th, 2013

You would have to be hiding under a rock to not notice the increased number of bikes on the streets in major cities across the US (and round the world). From bike share programs to the creation of bike lanes and biking infrastructure, major cities like NYC, Washington, D.C., Chicago and SF have been rolling… Read more »

-->
BM-Hero-Grid-v6_blog?

You would have to be hiding under a rock to not notice the increased number of bikes on the streets in major cities across the US (and round the world). From bike share programs to the creation of bike lanes and biking infrastructure, major cities like NYC, Washington, D.C., Chicago and SF have been rolling out programs.

PUBLIC is pleased to play a part in these progressive developments. Now we’re also seeing residential suburban communities following suit, and this bodes well for the greening of America. 
One new development is a new urban village down the SF Peninsula in San Mateo where 93 Shea Homes buyers are getting PUBLIC bikes. The old site was the Bay Meadows Race track, which closed its operations five years ago. So where horses used to run there will now be bikes rolling along.

Bay Meadows touts itself as a development where “Life in Motion” is celebrated and they’re truly living up to this vision.
 Here’s what Janice Thacher, partner at Wilson Meany, developer of Bay Meadows, had to say:

“In collaboration with Shea Homes, we are thrilled to provide each Landsdowne homeowner the gift of two-wheel transportation. Bay Meadows offers an innovative and sustainable new way to live, and PUBLIC Bikes closely shares our philosophy. With their new bikes, Landsdowne residents will take advantage of local San Mateo attractions, as well as Bay Meadows’ bike-friendly experience highlighted by trails, parks, and access to on-site retail and office space.”

How cool is that? Ninety-three new homeowners can go grocery shopping nearby using their PUBLIC bikes, and even access the nearby Caltrain station and take their bikes to San Francisco or elsewhere.

If you’re interested in checking out these Landsdowne homes, you can visit model residences daily from 12pm – 6pm. The units located on the Hillsdale Caltrain line seem especially desirable for people needing quick, smart access to San Francisco.

Erotic Parking in Japan

August 19th, 2013

Most of us who get around on bikes everyday are accustomed to improvising parking solutions: a fence, a parking meter, a bridge, or even a tree will do in a pinch. It doesn’t make us happy to struggle to find parking, but we’ve gotten used to it. And then you see a solution like the… Read more »

-->

Most of us who get around on bikes everyday are accustomed to improvising parking solutions: a fence, a parking meter, a bridge, or even a tree will do in a pinch. It doesn’t make us happy to struggle to find parking, but we’ve gotten used to it. And then you see a solution like the “Underground Bike Parking in Japan” and you become green with envy. That’s why I use the word “erotic” because it fills me with desire, not for sex, but for public design solutions this sexy. How many more people would ride a bike to work if they knew it could be dropped off and retrieved so elegantly? How much clutter from the streets would we eliminate?

Cities are only going to become more congested and dense as more people move into them. This urban trend is global and unrelenting. Why isn’t the US a leader here? Is it asking too much in our high tech world with engineers behind epic companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter – many of whom ride bikes and live in the city – to work with government officials to come up with some inspiring bike parking solution like what we see in Japan? This is one Kickstarter campaign we would all get behind.

Rolling out the Green Carpet in San Francisco

August 13th, 2013

We’re big fans of color at PUBLIC, and we love to see it used intelligently in our public spaces to offset the grey asphalt that dominates our urban landscapes. We’ve add a fantastic infusion of green all throughout San Francisco this past month, making our bike lanes vivid, visible, safer, and cool, and giving our… Read more »

-->
What Color is Your Street?

We’re big fans of color at PUBLIC, and we love to see it used intelligently in our public spaces to offset the grey asphalt that dominates our urban landscapes. We’ve add a fantastic infusion of green all throughout San Francisco this past month, making our bike lanes vivid, visible, safer, and cool, and giving our lanes newfound respect and esteem. Green won’t get as much acclaim as the International Orange of our Golden Gate Bridge, but it has made a huge improvement to our riding, and it prompted us to think more about the use of color in public.

Color can inspire, detract, and many times communicate messages about the use and behavior expected of people using public spaces. For example, in the United States, we generally recognize Blue as a signal for disabled accommodation or parking. Yellow means caution or slow down, while Red signifies stop. White might communicate a temporary or restricted loading zone. You won’t find Pink or Purple anywhere. As we see more cities implement separated bikeways to make bicycling safer and more accessible, the color Green has become the de facto standard color for many bike lanes.

Why Green bike lanes? There’s actually been a lot of research on the best color treatment for bike lanes. What it boils down to is that the choice of Green for bike lanes is not just an aesthetic color choice, but a choice based on color as a “traffic control device.”

According to the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD):

San Francisco’s new green bike lanes on Market Street Bike counter on San Francisco’s Market Street New green bike lanes on Fell Street in San Francisco

“A number of experiments have been conducted in the United States and in other countries around the world to determine the value of designating a particular pavement color to communicate to road users that a portion of the roadway has been set aside for exclusive or preferential use by bicyclists and to enhance the conspicuity of a bicycle lane or a bicycle lane extension. Green, blue, and red are among the colors that have been tested for this purpose. Because these colored pavements are intended to regulate, warn, or guide traffic (motorists and bicyclists) and thus are serving as more than just an aesthetic treatment, they are considered to be traffic control devices. For the past ten years in the United States, green has been the only color that has received official FHWA approval for colored pavement experiments on bicycle facilities.”

While Green has become a more standard bike lane color, there isn’t a specific shade of green that’s been specified. While neon green might work on most streets, it might not be the best shade for a green bike lane inside a park, a debate that occurred when San Francisco implemented a green bike lane in Golden Gate Park.

Not surprisingly, the color Green for bike lanes is not universally loved. Certain members of the film industry in Los Angeles are upset over Green bike lanes because the color makes post-production work more tedious.

We’re excited when we see an increase in green bike lanes because it signifies a city’s priority to invest in bicycling improvements. There’s even a concerted effort called The Green Lane Project to push for improvements in six U.S. cities.

We can disagree over Green as the best color choice, but hopefully we can agree that more bike lanes are better for all of us.

Public Protests: Istanbul (Now) and Amsterdam (Then)

June 20th, 2013

The recent intense protests in Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul have brought attention to the value and meaning of Public Space. Istanbul has very little free open space, and the government had planned to replace one of its parks with a monument and a shopping mall. The lesson here is clear: mess with public space… Read more »

-->

The recent intense protests in Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul have brought attention to the value and meaning of Public Space. Istanbul has very little free open space, and the government had planned to replace one of its parks with a monument and a shopping mall. The lesson here is clear: mess with public space and you might set off national blowback and find yourself the center of international attention and criticism.

In Istanbul’s Heart, Leader’s Obsession, Perhaps Achilles’ Heel
By Michael Kimmelman

“So public space, even a modest and chaotic swath of it like Taksim, again reveals itself as fundamentally more powerful than social media, which produce virtual communities. Revolutions happen in the flesh. In Taksim, strangers have discovered one another, their common concerns and collective voice.” Read on.

Defenders of Public Space in The International Herald Tribune
By Harvey Morris

“The privatization of the public realm, through the growth of ‘private-public’ space, produces over controlled, sterile places which lack connection to the reality and diversity of the local environment, with the result that they all tend to look the same,” Ms. Minton wrote in a report for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. “They also raise serious questions about democracy and accountability.” Read on.

Transportation Chief Talks of Giving the Public More Public Spaces
By Clyde Haberman

“ ‘People are very possessive and passionate about public space,’ said Ms. Sadik-Khan, the New York City transportation commissioner. ‘When it’s taken away, I’m not surprised that there’s a strong reaction. If you took away Central Park …’ She didn’t finish the sentence. She didn’t have to. New York would surely have a popular uprising on its hands.” Read on.

It often it takes a riot, or some equivalent dramatic event, to get the attention of societies, government, and developers. And it has always been this way in the modern world. The entire biking movement of the last fifty years in fact owes its existence to public protests over the intrusion of automobiles into public space. It’s easy to forget that places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen were not always bike friendly and that public protest allowed them to develop and flourish, as this video makes clear.


How the Dutch Got Their Cycle Paths

These issues are near and dear to us at PUBLIC, where we think of bikes as one of greatest assets that allow us to more fully appreciate and enjoy our communities and public space. Thanks to the citizens of Istanbul for their courage and for reminding us that the issue is global one.