February 7th, 2015


We are a small team of urbanist bike lovers quite serious about our mission to change the world and quite serious about having fun while making that happen. Now in our fifth year we have plans to expand our business and we could use your help. Maybe you fit one of the job descriptions below or maybe you know someone who does? If you lead us to someone who meets the qualifications for any of the full-time positions we’ll give you the PUBLIC C7 or V7 of your choice. Job summaries and links to full descriptions below.

Thanks,
Rob Forbes, PUBLIC Founder

Director of Merchandise – Full Time (San Francisco)

For this position we’re looking for a hands-on team player with 5-10 years of product management experience, specializing in web centric retail businesses. We’re looking for someone who will oversee all aspects of merchandise, product development and inventory. If you’re a visionary with an entrepreneurial attitude and a good sense of humor, please drop us a letter of interest at jobs(at)publicbikes.com. Learn more about the position on our website.

Retail Store Manager – Full Time (Seattle)

Yup, we’re hiring for Seattle because we’re expanding this Spring and opening our first store outside of California in Seattle, Washington. If you’re a talented and enthusiastic leader, with 3+ years experience in specialty retail management, we’d love to meet you. Send over a letter of interest to storejobs(at)publicbikes.com. Learn more about the position here.

February 6th, 2015

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.

January 29th, 2015

Natalie Portman & Audrey Hepburn Ride Bikes

There’s no shortage of famous people spotted riding bicycles. And why not? From Audrey Hepburn to Natalie Portman to Julia Roberts, some of the most recognizable people in the world have been seen using the bicycle as a vehicle for personal freedom, mobility and expression. Check out our Pinterest album for a sampling of celebrities on bicycles.

Julia Roberts and Solange Knowles & Alan Ferguson Ride Bikes

We’ve talked about this topic before when we interviewed Steven Rea, author of Hollywood Rides A Bike. His compilation of vintage photographs of celebrities riding bikes is exhaustive. Check out the interview featured in another blog post, along with a few pictures.

And if you can’t get enough of celebrities on bikes, these are our top links on the subject:

Rides A Bike: Exhaustive collection of vintage snaps of celebs on Bikes. Who knew there were so many?

Huffington Post: A varied assortment of candid shots of current stars rocking and rolling.

Eleanoursnyc: A nice and thorough Pinterest board of celebs on bikes.

January 24th, 2015

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.

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 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.

January 12th, 2015

When we think of snow, many of us think about snowboarding, sledding, or a beautiful natural winter landscape.

But another cool (pun intended) feature of snow is how it acts as an “urban usage map.” The way cars make tracks around and through snow shows how much public space is used and unused by cars. Is there room for sidewalk extensions for pedestrians? Could car lanes be narrowed or median greening be added? Snow can literally show us the answer.

This video from Streetsfilm does a great job explaining how snow can reveal a lot about mobility and how public spaces are utilized in cities.

As Clarence Eckerson from Streetsfilm told the BBC: “The snow is almost like nature’s tracing paper. It’s free. You don’t have to do a crazy expensive traffic calming study. It provides a visual cue into how people behave.”

Through the visual storytelling in the article “What Snow Tells Us About Creating Better Public Spaces on E. Passyunk Avenue” you can see how snowfall in Philadelphia informs how public space could be better utilized. Notice how much public space could be rededicated to people over cars.

A phenomenon of urban snowfall is naturally created “sneckdowns,” or snow neckdowns. A neckdown is a curb extension, a traffic calming measure that involves sidewalk widening, narrowing car roads and making streets wider for pedestrians. The word “sneckdown” is a play on the concept of neckdown, but with snow.

For more on the phenomena of sneckdowns check out this article one Streetsfilm.

So when you’re walking, biking, or driving around in the your city during or after snowfall, pay attention to the snow on the ground. It might tell you a lot about how your streets and public spaces could be changed to make them more people-friendly.

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, 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.

December 18th, 2014

Why stop at trimming your tree with lights? Your bike is a prime candidate for a little more glow this holiday season. We amassed a few shining examples of festive bikes below and we’d love to see yours! If you’re decking out your bike with lights this holiday, send us a picture or tag us @publicbikes on social media.

1. Cruiser bikes get a nighttime makeover with neon lights

2. A vintage bike makes for a sweet holiday light show

3. An amazing bike “tree” blinging with Christmas Lights

4. A simple way to get festive, wrap colored lights around your bike basket

5. Transform an old bike by wrapping it in white lights and turning it into a planter

6. A long exposure and LEDs make a great bike light show

December 15th, 2014

Riding a bike is a great way to become more connected with your community, and during this time of gift giving, it’s inspiring to see the many ways that people are using bikes to give back to their neighbors and cities.

One local effort that we think deserves special attention is the Supermarket Street Sweep event in San Francisco, which recently raised its biggest-ever haul of food and donations for the SF-Marin Food Bank. Every December, hundreds of riders bike up and down the city following an alley-cat route of supermarkets on all kinds of bikes, picking up more and more food along the way to drop off at the finish line: the local Food Bank.

Since 2006, the Supermarket Street Sweep has raised thousands of dollars and delivered over 120,000 meals to the SF-Marin Food Bank. This year 132 riders brought over 12,000 pounds of food on bicycles. This fun community ride grows bigger every year, and was inspired by the Cranksgiving ride, started in New York and now held in cities around the country. It’s an amazing sight to witness these bicyclists racing around the city collecting food and hauling heavy loads on all kinds of bicycles. This year’s winner carried 1,745 pounds on his own wheels – that’s almost an entire ton of food!

We love events like Supermarket Street Sweep and Cranksgiving because they use bikes to connect people with each other and with their communities and cities in a spirit of giving and fun. If you’re looking for a way to give back to your city this year, check out local benefit rides in your area, or better yet, organize your own! You might be surprised how a small thing like a bicycle can make a big impact on the people around you.

December 1st, 2014

When it comes to chic, bulletproof gear that goes with cycling, there are a few brands that rise to the top. In saddles its Brooks. In apparel it’s Rapha. In bags it’s Freitag. Freitag is a Swiss company that has set the standard in bag production with their elegant, unique and functional products. Each bag is crafted from truck tarps, making them unique and virtually indestructible.

Five years ago I visited the Freitag headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland (shown left). Their flagship store and factory is created entirely out of recycled freight containers and has become a kind of architectural icon. Fitting for a company whose products are iconic as well. I bought a few products on that visit, and I have been a passionate customer ever since. That’s my green bag shown below left. Like all their products they just get better over time.

You can find Freitag products at our stores in San Francisco and Seattle. There’s a terrific selection of popular styles there that range anywhere from $32-$340. These make great gifts for others as well as yourself. If you’re in the neighborhood, make sure to swing by and check out the collection.

What makes a Freitag a Freitag?

The Freitag company was started by the Freitag brothers. Both were designers and cooked up the idea for these bags while they were students, 20 years ago. Listen to an interview with Markus, one of the Freitag brothers. Since starting the company, the brothers have built a reputation that’s based on a commitment to sustainable processes, impeccable design, and legendary quality.

Of course, by now there are numerous imposters selling lookalike product, but Freitag bags are truly the original. More and more companies are getting on the upcycled product bandwagon and you could argue that Freitag paved the way. Learn more about the Freitag production process.

Here are 5 reasons why Freitag stands above the rest.

1 | INDIVIDUAL

Each bag is custom. Based on the inherent words, textures and colors found on each unique piece of fabric, a team of designers works together to design each bag individually.

2 | SUSTAINABLE

The fabric used for each bag comes from truck tarps.  This upcycled material is incredibly strong and durable and the reason why we call these bags “indestructible.” All tarps are cut, washed, designed and sewn into bags in the Freitag factory in Zurich.

3 | FUNCTIONAL

Not only are these bags made of  impermeable fabric, but they are smartly constructed for everyday wear. Their straps will stand up the the toughest use and the velcro closures are super strong. Don’t fear using your Freitag bag all day and in any weather conditions.

4 | GUARANTEED TO LAST A LIFETIME

The materials and construction are top-notch, but if for any reason you need to, you can send your Freitag product back if it needs repairs.

5 | CHIC

It’s very rare to a find a company making industrial-grade products that are this fashionable. Their products are frequently seen on the backs of both fussy designers and hard-core cyclists all over Europe.

We are delighted and privileged to introduce Freitag.

Best,

Rob Forbes

Founder, PUBLIC