March 17th, 2017

Written by PUBLIC founder, Rob Forbes

biking in paris

By Pline, CC BY-SA 3.0 via wikimedia.

“We are leading a more global fight against the monopoly held by cars in our city and in our lives,” declares Hidalgo. “We want to create a peaceful city, free from the hegemony of private cars, to give public transit, bicycles, and pedestrians their rightful places. Reducing car traffic will help make Paris more pleasant and more full of life.”
– Anne Hidalgo, Major of Paris, France

I just returned from Paris having not been there for almost ten years. I went to see the sights, check-in on the Parisian biking scene and see how the Velib city bike sharing program was holding up. When Velib launched in 2007 it was radical and exciting.  It became a model for many cities to follow and was one of my biggest inspirations for PUBLIC bikes.

biking in paris

In the ten years since its launch, the Velib system has done nothing but improve. In my opinion, it leads the modern world in age, reach, efficiency and elegance. When you’re biking around Paris you see people of all ages and backgrounds using the Velib bikes in all corners of the city. The amount and diversity of riders in Paris is also likely because the bike lanes there are more extensive and respected there.

biking in paris

Major of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. By I. Rcsmit, CC BY-SA 3.0 via wikimedia.

The Velib bikes themselves, as well as the stations they are housed in, are kept in great shape.  The bikes are neutral in color which keeps them from becoming an eyesore.  When you are in Paris you want to look at the public spaces, architecture, parks, fashionable Parisians, not at the bikes.

biking in Paris

A PUBLIC Bike spotted on Rue De Rivoli in Paris, France.

Like fashion and architecture, why does Paris pull off the city bike system so well when other cities can’t get it right?

There are numerous cultural and historic reasons.  Paris is blessed with an amazing urban design and a democratic public consciousness that dates back to the 19th century when Napoleon III gave Baron Hausmann the nod to redesign the city. Paris is respected internationally for its layout like no other modern city.  It enforces strict building codes and constraints that help keep capitalist developers in check.  Parisians are lovers of beauty and fiercely protective of their “look and feel.”

biking in paris

That said, in the late 20th century, Paris suffered mightily from the influx of cars and suburban commuters that brought a surge of traffic and pollution to the city. Thus, in 2007 Paris embarked on various campaigns to take back the city. It implemented bike lanes to help improve traffic congestion, continued the growth of its elegant and cheap Metro, reserved parking for e-cars, built special taxi-only lanes and so on.

hidalgo

Major of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. By Von Inès Dieleman via wikimedia.

The city even closed some major central thoroughfares to improve the pedestrian flow and rallied behind other initiatives such as the “reconquest of the Seine” led by mayor Anne Hidalgo, the first woman elected mayor of Paris. Hidalgo was elected in 2014 and has earned broad respect across political lines despite her Socialist background. She’s doing for Paris what Michael Bloomberg and Janette Sadik-Khan did for New York .

biking in paris

Today, France is undergoing much of the same political uncertainty that we’re facing in the USA, and it has a major election coming up in April.  But seeing the positive social change that is taking place in Paris reminds us that acting locally may be the best solution to this uncertainty. Mayors make a difference.

March 16th, 2017

Written by Lauren Pezzullo

You’re a bicyclist, so you know the sight of a jumbled tangle of bikes all too well. Whether you live in a tiny one-bedroom apartment or a spacious house in the suburbs, you still want a bike storage solution that leaves as much room as possible—but one that’s also functional, and easy to get in and out. That’s why we’ve rounded up some of the most creative and efficient bike storage options. Some are available to purchase, and some are a relatively simple DIY, so no matter what your budget or skill level, you’ll be able to find your bike’s perfect new home.

 

1. MICHELANGELO TWO-BIKE GRAVITY STAND
creative bike storage

If you’re not handy with power tools, or even if you’d just prefer to leave the screws and bolts to the pros, we totally get it. And you’re in luck, because the Michelangelo 2 Bike Gravity Storage Rack is here to your rescue. The ultimate in sleek design and efficiency, this two-bike stand makes the most of vertical space by stacking bikes in the most compact way. It’s perfect for small spaces (crowded family home? roommates?), and the curves of this sturdy steel-tubed stand are Scandinavian-chic, so it’ll look right at home next to your BILLY bookshelf. Plus, you don’t have to drill holes on your wall—just lean it against the wall and leave the rest to gravity.

 
2. DESIGNER-WORTHY DIY HANGING PERCH

creative bike storage

Image via Buzzfeed

Your bike is your baby, and you want to show it off in the most eye-catching way possible, right? That’s why this custom-made DIY tutorial is perfect for you. Using a handsaw, cut a series of solid wooden triangles, according to the measurements here. Measure, drill, and cut out a smaller triangle shape within your first triangles. Stack your new hollowed-out triangles together, affix with wood glue, and clamp to dry. Add brackets, hang on the wall—close to a window, so that sunlight will illuminate it like a spotlight—and step back to admire your masterpiece. Our favorite part about this one is how the hollowed-out triangle functions as a cubby hole, perfect for stashing your lock or riding gloves.

 

3. HUNTING TROPHY HANGING RACK DIY

creative bike storage

Image via Mini Penny Blog.

Move over, taxidermy, we bikers have come to take all your trophy racks! But seriously, what a simple and stylish way to mount your favorite specimen. Thanks to this easy and handy tutorial, you can hang your bike flush against the wall—no more ducking the wheels overhead!—for a decent price at your local hardware store.

 

4. DIY BIKE STAND

creative bike storage

Image via Instructables.

This one’s certainly not the prettiest of the lot, but it does the job well. If you’re on a budget—or eco-minded—round up some scrap wood for this simple tutorial. By constructing an I-shaped wedge stand, you’ve got a custom-fit standing rack to slide your front wheel into. Since it’s not a hanging rack, this one is best for those who have a little room to spare. It’s also easy and cheap—or free.

Now what are you waiting for—crank up the speed on your DIY project or bike-rack purchase, and get back out on the road to ride!


About the Writer
Lauren Pezzullo is a writer, editor, and musicophile who’s passionate about vegetarianism and sustainable eating. As an editor for Modernize, she writes about energy-efficient living in the home. She’s currently writing her debut novel.

March 7th, 2017

In honor of International Women’s Day, March 8, 2017 we are saluting women who ride in different ways, in different places and for different reasons. Whether these women are riding their bikes in high heels or clip-in shoes, leisurely rolling to the the farmers market or drafting each other along California Highway 1 during the AIDS/Lifecycle, they all opted to ride a bike, their way.

Read on for photos of each woman, their answer to the question “I ride because…” and a fun fact or two about each of them (aka, one of them is a chef for the animals at the Oakland Zoo in Oakland, CA!).

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT TIFFINY: I’m a high school art teacher who loves to bake. I started baking through Bon Appétit’s dessert cookbook almost three years ago. I think I’ll finish when I’m 95 years old! Just in time to open my own bakery. ?

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT VICKY & RACHEL: We are the creative duo behind the Instagram account @webikeforbeer and one of our life goals is to be contestants on the Amazing Race together.

women who ride international women's day
FUN FACTS ABOUT TDo: I joined AIDS/Lifecycle as a roadie because I wanted to put energy and time into helping others. While volunteering, I saw so many cyclists having so much fun so I participated in ALC as a cyclist the following year and have done that for the past 4 years. This year, I’m a co-captain of SWAT’s ALC team (She Wolf Attack Team). (Before ALC, the last time I rode a bike was when I was 11 years old.) That was the start. Cycling has become to mean so much more to me since then. It has shown me what I’m capable of, been my therapist, my personal trainer and my yoga on wheels.

Extra fun fact: At 5’0″ I somehow got a scholarship to play college basketball!

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT HEATHER: I come from a long line of family who have worked in the National Park Service. One of the places I lived when I was little was Petrified Forest. While I lived there they found the oldest known remains of a dinosaur! Between both of my grandfathers, father and a few uncles, my family has helped to educate people about the importance of national parks from Washington DC, to Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, North Cascades and many more!

international womens day bike rider

FUN FACTS ABOUT JENN: A few years ago I started Field Day Creative, a floral design company here in my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. I use local, seasonal blooms when possible, pulling inspiration from my surroundings and the natural variations in plants to create floral designs that emulate freshly gathered flowers from the garden.

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT VERONICA: When I bike I feel born again when the fresh wind hits my face ? + I get to see more of this beautiful world ?. Also, I’m obsessed with my bike, I take it almost everywhere I go ♀️?.

international women's day bike rider

FUN FACTS ABOUT MARI: I once sold weed to Snoop Dog.

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT ANNA: The higher the heels the safer I feel, even when I’m cycling! ?? Biking helps me escape from the real world and dream. The the joy it brings makes me stronger, more powerful and happier! And when I’m happy I can conquer the world!

FUN FACTS ABOUT MONICA: I sent a friend to the hospital while playing a casual game of catch before a softball game. And I had 11 stitches put in my chin about year ago due to a bike accident. I still ride that bike, though, and I still ride every day! (Note from PUBLIC: Monica was featured in our post about bike couriers here.)

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT BECKY SUE: I created Baking The Goods, a space to share my recipes, writing, and photography with food motivated friends who like a bit of sass with their sweets. (Note from PUBLIC: Check out one of Becky Sue’s recipes on our blog here.)

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT MANDY: I learned how to ride a bike without training wheels at 4 years old from watching my mom try to teach my older brother. It is the first memory I have of feeling accomplished, independent, and proud to be a girl!

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT STACY: I’m the Zoo Chef (for the animals) at the Oakland Zoo in Oakland, CA.

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT CHELSY: I’m an identical twin.

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT PAMELA: I’ve been a vegetarian for over 20 yrs. (Note from PUBLIC: Pamela is also a photographer who took all the photography for our post on bike couriers here.)

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT MAE: Riding around city streets or cruising along the beaches of the California coast – I’m always reminded to focus on the present moment. The sounds and smells, the feeling of the wind in my hair makes me feel grateful for being alive.

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT MICHELE: I LOVE GLITTER!

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT CINDY: If you name 10 ice cream shops in San Francisco, I’ve been to 9 of them. (Note from PUBLIC: Cindy is chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party and a leader with one of the city’s largest affordable housing developers).

women who ride international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT ANNE: I’m an Episcopal priest in Philadelphia, PA. And, I am also an avid Argentine tango dancer.

international women's day bike riders

FUN FACTS ABOUT JULIE: She’s PUBLIC’s Retail Operations Manager, a meticulous crafter and maker of insanely (like, blow your mind) delicious Furikake Chex Mix.

international women's day

FUN FACTS ABOUT GABI: I’ve only lived in 3 states (CT, TX, and MA), but I’ve moved over 15 times! Yet, I’m still somehow a last-minute packer, through and through. Also, for me biking is exercise AND fun all rolled into one, and I’m so thankful to have my handy bike to help me zoom around town.

February 28th, 2017

#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich their community through their two-wheeled advocacy. If you have a nominee for #DoPublicGood, please let us know in the comments and if selected we’ll send you both a PUBLIC gift certificate.

We’re taking part too. Follow our Instagram Story (@publicbikes) each Thursday as we bike-courier food from a restaurant to shelter in San Francisco, CA.

do good by bike

In Volume 5 of #DoPublicGood, we interview Cindy Ahola, Vice President of Operations at Good Karma Bikes in San Jose, California. Good Karma Bikes is aptly named, it’s a full-service, second-hand bike shop whose proceeds support under-resourced youth, low-income families and the homeless. Read on for our full Q&A with Cindy to learn more about the inspiring work done by Good Karma Bikes.

good karma bikes

“We believe bicycles provide an ability to make a living, to be independent, and to make contributions to your world.”
– Cindy Ahola

PUBLIC: Please describe what Good Karma Bikes is all about?
Cindy: Good Karma Bikes is a nonprofit social enterprise. We are a full-service, second-hand bike shop that’s open to the public. Our revenue supports programs serving low income families, homeless individuals, and under-resourced young people, with a special focus on the support and education of former foster youth.

We started in 2009 as a mobile operation fixing bikes for free at shelters, soup kitchens and encampments. In 2013, the social enterprise was born and the sale of bicycles supported expanded free services for our clients. In 2014, we recognized a common factor among the clients we were serving — many of them had been in the foster care system. It was then we knew we had to add a new focus: prevention.

We serve and enhance our community by offering safe, reliable transportation with refurbished bicycles kept from the landfill. Today, not only do we continue to provide the same services we established at the very beginning, but we also work toward preventing the very issues our current clients confront; homelessness, incarceration, insufficient education and more.

good karma bikes

PUBLIC: Talk to us about your College Outreach & Opportunity Program?
Cindy: 70% of California inmates are wards of court or were in foster care, and nationally 50% of the homeless population spent time in foster care.* In our two-year program, former foster youth move from feeling disenfranchised and vulnerable to becoming self-sufficient, confident, and productive members of society.

Youth receive intensive two-year case management, both in-house and with our partners. As part of this program, youth are stably housed, trained in bike mechanics and retail, work in our shop, attend life skills seminars, prepare for and attend college, volunteer in the community, and become mentors to new youth entering the program.

PUBLIC: Please describe how your Bike Voucher Program works?
Cindy: Good Karma Bikes has several programs whereby low-income individuals can acquire a bicycle at low or no cost. Our most popular program is our Work-To-Earn Bicycle Program. Any individual can volunteer for six hours at Good Karma Bikes and earn a $100 bicycle. While they work, the bicycle fitting their needs is refurbished by another volunteer. Upon completion of required hours, they can ride away on their “new” bicycle. We’re proud of the fact that so many continue on to volunteer, even after they’ve earned their bicycle.

do good by bike

PUBLIC: Can you highlight a few examples of people your program has helped?
Cindy: Many of our Work-To-Earn volunteers and Free Repair Clinic clients are low-income and homeless individuals who have jobs and rely on bicycles as their primary transportation. A missed day of work can mean the difference between keeping that job and losing it. Having a reliable mode of transportation each day means one more day of success. A volunteer recently shared how important it was for him to know he could “get up and go to a job and be something each day.”

Some of our Work-To-Earn volunteers feel they don’t add value to the world. As a volunteer, they can learn basic repairs and fix others’ bikes. Many tell us how glad they are to learn a useful skill and how good they feel doing something for others.

One of our program youth began two years ago shy, overweight, knew little about and rarely rode a bicycle. Less than one year in the program, he’d overhauled and upgraded his bike to the envy of all in the shop. He rode everywhere (even 20 miles to school), talked to people at red lights, lost weight, mentored new mechanics, and inspired his family and friends to ride. He even won Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition’s Commuter of the Year in 2016**. He’s since graduated the program and is in school full-time. This young man changed the course of his life with a bicycle.

We are privileged to work alongside so many people as they change their lives and the lives of others.

do good by bike

PUBLIC: In your words, why is the bicycle able to change lives?
Cindy: In order to survive in this world, you have to have transportation. We believe bicycles provide an ability to make a living — to be independent and to make contributions to your world.

good karma bikes

PUBLIC: How can people get involved with Good Karma Bikes?
Cindy: All of our bicycles are donated. If you would like to donate a bicycle, we will gladly take yours and provide a complete overhaul and warranty for its new owner. Check our website for information and shop hours

We rely heavily on our amazing team of volunteers to make all this magic happen. And you don’t even need to be a bike mechanic! We can teach you that. Or come in and help us behind the scenes. If you’re interested in volunteering, email volunteer@goodkarmabikes.org.

Of course, we’d love to say hi and tell you more in person! Visit our shop at 460 Lincoln Avenue in San Jose or email us at goodkarma@goodkarmabikes.org.


* California Senate Office of Research, December 2011 Policy Matters “State survey of California prisoners: What percentage of the state’s polled prison inmates Were once foster care children?”

*Foster Focus Online Magazine “Foster Care and Homelessness” By Shalita O’Neale.

**Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. Connecting Our Communities, “Meet Silicon Valley’s 2016 Bicycle Commuters of the Year” by Carlos V., May 11, 2016

February 16th, 2017

mardi gras by bike

The city of New Orleans, Louisiana, knows how to throw a good party. From Jazzfest to French Quarter Fest and dozens of smaller festivals in-between, people from all over the world flock to New Orleans to take part in these vibrant celebrations.

The most popular and well attended of all the festivals in New Orleans is Mardi Gras, attracting over one million people each year. Mardi Gras falls on Shrove or Fat Tuesday and while that day is reserved for the largest amount of celebrating, the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras, known as Carnival, are filled with organized parades, eclectic costumes and general revelry.

mardi gras by bike

“Mardi Gras brings out so much creativity” says Marin Tockman, owner of New Orleans-based bike shop, Dashing Bicycles. “The float ideas are always so fun and so witty. Larger parades will have decorated bikes (think unicorns or sea monsters) in-between the larger floats and thousands of people can see how creative people are incorporating bikes into the parading fun.”

mardi gras by bike

Tockman offers some advice for folks looking to dress up their bikes. “Keep it simple so it’s safe to ride, but add some fun fringe, sparkly fabric or even beads to your handlebars or helmet. Make sure to leave room for a cup holder and add wheel lights to brighten up our streets while you bike at night.”

mardi gras by bike

Not only do bikes get dressed up for parades, but with the heavy tourist traffic during Carnival they become a superior means of navigating the city. “Riding a bike during Mardi Gras is the thing to do!” says Tockman. “Zip to any parade, amazing restaurant or live show in any corner of the city, hassle-free.” If you choose to get around NOLA on a bike during Mardi Gras you won’t be alone. Says Tockman, “So many people choose to bike that sometimes when biking to a parade feels like a festival in and of itself, with everyone dressed up and having fun along the way.”

mardi gras by bike

With so much to see and do during Carnival how do you decide which events to partake in? Tockman offers the following insider tips on what to do and see by bike during the five days leading up to Mardi Gras, and on Mardi Gras itself:

THURSDAY Bike to Muses. It’s an all-female super Krewe parade that heads down St. Charles, featuring the city’s best high school marching bands.

FRIDAY Check out Morpheus, a parade that rolls uptown. And there is always tons of great live music shows along Frenchmen Street.

SATURDAY Head to Endymion in the afternoon for the amazing floats. Or check out the local walking parades that happen, like the 9th Ward Marching.

SUNDAY Hit up some family parades along the St Charles route, especially Bacchus. Beware of the Box of Wine parade, the revelers take in copious amounts of wine beforehand.

MONDAY Rest and finish your costume ‘cause there’s only one day left till Mardi Gras! It’s a good night to catch a few throws or music in the French Quarter.

TUESDAY The big day is here! Mardi Gras rolls out early and lasts all night, so make sure to fuel up beforehand. First things first, catch the Bone Boys waking up the neighborhoods with their cast iron pans. Then head to Zulu, the largest African American Super Krewe parade for phenomenally well-dressed folks. By late morning, head to the French Quarter and take part in the St. Ann Parade which finds thousands of people meandering through the beautiful streets following battling marching bands to the river.

Says Tockman, “While the whole week is pretty nonstop, it’s some of the most fun you can ever have, especially if you make time to cruise through it all with a bike.”


All photos by Akasha Rabut of Akasha Rabut Photography.
PUBLIC bikes pictured: PUBLIC V1 and PUBLIC C7.

January 31st, 2017

Bike Flower Couriers

What’s something that can elicit almost as many “Ooohs and Aaahs” as a puppy or baby? Spotting a bike flower courier whose front basket and messenger backpack are overflowing with beautiful bouquets. As Valentine’s Day approaches we’ve been seeing more and more of these petal pushers spinning through the city. So in partnership with BloomThat (responsible for the gorgeous blooms pictured) and with the help of photographer (and biker!) Pamela of Pamela Palma Photography we hopped on our bikes and followed a few bike flower couriers as they pedaled (and posed) with flowers around San Francisco. Read on to learn about each of the bike couriers and see more photos.


BIKE COURIER 1: MONICA
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: Tell us a little about you. Who you are? Where you’re from?
MONICA: I’m a bay area native. Born and raised in the east bay
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC:How did you become a bike courier?
MONICA: Pedal Express in Oakland was hiring and I happened to be looking for a job.
PUBLIC: What’s the best part about being a bike courier?
MONICA: Having better knowledge of the streets is pretty tight.
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: What’s the worst part of the job?
MONICA: Dealing with the diverse forms of traffic on the road is rough. Between ride sharing, public transportation and lost drivers, you have to be on your toes all the time.
PUBLIC: Any tips for navigating city traffic by bike?
MONICA: Always be aware of your surroundings. Don’t hesitate to be vocal and ring your bell to make sure cars know you’re there.
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever carried via bike?
MONICA: The craziest thing I’ve carried was really the distance I had to go with the order. I had to pick up a package in the Diamond Heights neighborhood of San Francisco and drop it off miles away in Daly City. It felt like that job took forever.
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: What’s the best reaction you’ve received from couriering flowers by bike?
MONICA: Ladies love it, and so do people with kids. Flower deliveries are usually the most appreciated of deliveries.
PUBLIC: What’s the best way to carry flowers on a bike?
MONICA: Definitely by a mess {messenger} bag. You can just expand those things and stuff it full and even put some flowers in the side pockets of the bag.


BIKE COURIER 2: SAM
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: Tell us a little about you. Who you are? Where you’re from?
SAM: I’m Sam Spicer. I’m from Portland, OR and I now live in San Francisco.
PUBLIC: How did you become a bike courier?
SAM: I became a courier back in Portland. Most of my dudes were already working as couriers. I had an opportunity to try it and, of course, fell in love with it.
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: What’s the best part about being a bike courier?
SAM: The best part about being a bike courier is that it’s the best excuse for looking super weird talking to yourself from a far on the bike. But really your just talking into the radio.
PUBLIC: What’s the worst part of the job?
SAM: Worst part of the job is finding the bathroom during a busy, busy day.
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: Any tips for navigating city traffic by bike?
SAM: Stay loose and ride smart. Always ride like no one sees you.
PUBLIC: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever carried via bike?
SAM: Two things stick out in memory. Up in Portland I had to deliver a 6 foot roll of carpet. That was awkward. Then recently with TCB I had to pick up a pillow up in the Haight district of San Francisco that was going to the Mission District. At pick up, I found out that it was a smiley face kid’s pillow that was taco themed.
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: What’s the best reaction you’ve received from couriering flowers by bike?
SAM: All the smiles are really the best ones
PUBLIC: What’s the best way to carry flowers on a bike?
SAM: Whatever is comfortable for you. Bag, rack, etc. Depends on how many in the end!


BIKE COURIER 3: ANTONIO
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: Tell us a little about you. Who you are? Where you’re from?
ANTONIO: My name is Antonio. I’m from the sucka-free city, 415 {San Francisco area code}.
PUBLIC: How did you become a bike courier?
Bike Flower Couriers
ANTONIO: I first noticed bike messengers when I got an internship at Pedal Revolution on 21st and South Van Ness in San Francisco. I loved the idea of riding a bike for a living; how you can make ends meet and be free from an office job or the regular 9-5 routine. I fell in love with the whole bike culture and I learned to ride everywhere I go. Before that I was a knucklehead (still kinda am) without much determination or direction. But now you will never see me without my bike, and I can truly say it saved my life.
PUBLIC: What’s the best part about being a bike courier?
Bike Flower Couriers
ANTONIO: Riding your bike everywhere. Riding through the city and not being tied down and stuck indoors.
PUBLIC: What’s the worst part of the job?
ANTONIO: Rainy days
PUBLIC: Any tips for navigating city traffic by bike?
ANTONIO: Make sure your brakes are on point. Always stay aware of your surroundings and watch out for doors opening . AT NIGHT USE LIGHTS.
PUBLIC: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever carried via bike?
ANTONIO: I helped a good friend of mine move out of her apartment on Hyde and Turk in San Francisco to a place way out on 2nd Ave and Anza. Lots of hills and lots of weight (clothes and plates and stuff like that). Lol.
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: What’s the best reaction you’ve received from couriering flowers by bike?
ANTONIO: I always get lots of ooooohs and aahhhhhs when I deliver flowers. People are happy to get flowers 99.99999% of the time. You always get smiles.
PUBLIC: What’s the best way to carry flowers on a bike?
ANTONIO: Fat stack on the front rack every time.


BIKE COURIER 4: IAN

Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: Tell us a little about you. Who you are? Where you’re from?
IAN: Ian McDonnell, Tucson Arizona.
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: How did you become a bike courier?
IAN: Just another job.
PUBLIC: What’s the best part about being a bike courier?
IAN: Free elevator rides.
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: What’s the worst part of the job?
IAN: Taking BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit).
PUBLIC: Any tips for navigating city traffic by bike?
IAN: Always hold the lane and take lefts early. Don’t get pinned in the right lane, especially parallel to right turning cars. Stay 3 feet away from parked cars. Watch out for doors opening.
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever carried via bike?
IAN: A freshly removed mouth’s worth of gold teeth.
Bike Flower Couriers
PUBLIC: What’s the best reaction you’ve received from couriering flowers by bike?
IAN: One time a lady freaked out because the flowers were sent by someone she had a restraining order against.
PUBLIC: What’s the best way to carry flowers on a bike?
IAN: Securely.


All photography by Pamela Palma Photography . Big thanks to BloomThat for providing the blooms and to all the couriers who took part in this post!

January 29th, 2017

#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich their community through their two-wheeled advocacy. If you have a nominee for #DoPublicGood, please let us know in the comments and if selected we’ll send you both a PUBLIC gift certificate.

We’re taking part too. Follow our Instagram Story (@publicbikes) each Thursday as we bike-courier food from a restaurant to shelter in San Francisco, CA.

new standard cycles

In partnership with Blessings in a Book Bag, a nonprofit that provides services to children in need, SBC refurbishes bicycles and distributes them to kids every holiday season.

In Volume 4 of #DoPublicGood, we interview John Bennett, executive director of the Savannah Bicycle Campaign in Savannah, Georgia and founder of New Standard Cycles (NSC). NSC is an inspiring program that refurbishes donated bikes and, with the help of a local nonprofit, gives those bikes to people in the community to whom a bike could change their lives. They also offer bicycle repair classes and bicycle repair options for those who can’t afford it. Read on for our full Q&A with John and more pictures of the incredible work NSC does.

new standard cycles

New Standard Cycles volunteers sort parts and prepare them for reuse.

“Our nonprofit partners know their clients and recognize that bicycles can be life changing for them.”
– John Bennett

PUBLIC: Please tell us a little about where you work and what you do.
John: I am executive director of the Savannah Bicycle Campaign, a nonprofit bicycle advocacy organization founded in 2008 in Savannah, Ga. I’ve served in this position for about three and a half years. I was one of the organization’s co-founders. In my job I work with government officials to improve and expand our bicycle infrastructure network, provide education programs for children and adults, and organize events to encourage people to make bicycling a healthy part of their daily lives.

new standard cycles

Jen Colestock of SBC’s New Standard Cycles program introduces recently arrived refugees to their new bicycles. The recipients, who are chosen by Lutheran Services of Georgia’s refugee services office, use the bikes to start new jobs and new lives in our country.

PUBLIC: What does New Standard Cycles do?
John: Our program accepts donated bicycles, which are then refurbished by volunteers. We have established partnerships with nonprofit organizations and they identify recipients, for whom a bike can be the deciding factor in getting and keeping a job, going to school, remaining in a treatment program, or staying out of jail. Our nonprofit partners know their clients and recognize that bicycles can be life changing for them. Along with each bike, we also provide lights, a lock, a helmet, and a reflective vest. We also do a holiday bike drive, which provides bikes to children in underserved communities. Finally, we offer bicycle repair classes through a program called the Society of Important Cycling Knowledge (SICK). The goal is to teach people to handle basic bike repairs and maintenance tasks to keep their bikes running safely and smoothly in a friendly and fun environment.

new standard cycles

Savannah has the highest bicycle commuting rate in Georgia and SBC works to encourage more people to ride to work and other destinations.

PUBLIC: How did the idea for New Standard Cycles come about?
John: New Standard Cycles is based on a program operated by our friends at Bike Athens in Athens, Ga. We took their model and adapted it to Savannah. We have the highest rate of bicycle commuting in Georgia and many households that do not have access to motor vehicles. This is a city where thousands of people travel to work and other important destinations by bicycle every day. The building in which we are located began its life as a Standard Oil gas station in 1925, so the name New Standard Cycles is meant to acknowledge that history, but also reinforce the idea that bicycles can provide a new standard of mobility and economic empowerment for people in need.

PUBLIC: What do the people who receive donated bikes from NSC use them for
John: Our first bike went to a client, identified by Lutheran Services of Georgia’s refugee relocation service, who had served as a translator for the U.S. military in Afghanistan. He and his daughter were relocated to Savannah and he was hired at a hotel. Commuting to work by bike is faster and more flexible than taking public transit, so the bike we gave him allows him a viable way to get to his job, but also allows him to spend more time with his daughter before and after his shift. A more recent recipient was referred by Emmaus House, an organization that provides meals and other service to homeless people. She had recently moved out of a homeless camp into a more stable housing situation and was entering a job training program. The bike she received from us came along at just the right time for her. And this is what makes our relationships with other local nonprofits so effective. They watch for those precise moments when having safe, affordable, and dependable transportation can make all the difference in the world for someone who’s striving for a better life.

new standard cycles

SBC offers education programs for children, including bicycle rodeos and safe cycling programs at Girl Scout Camp.

PUBLIC: To date, how many adult and kids bikes have you given out?
John: At this point we refurbish about 100 bikes per year. We also provide minor repairs for people who cannot afford to have their bikes serviced at local bike shops.

PUBLIC: How can people get involved in NSC?
John: We have weekly volunteer sessions, which are managed by professional mechanic. Our volunteers are a mix of people who are capable bike mechanics and those who want to become more competent in maintaining their own bikes. They learn while serving others. We welcome anyone who wants to make life better for their fellow citizens.

new standard cycles

SBC organizes casual, family friendly rides to encourage people to explore Savannah by bike.

PUBLIC: Anything else you’d like to add?
John: Savannah has great potential as a cycling community. We have level terrain, a mild climate (except for July and August), a beautiful natural environment, and historic and cultural resources that attract tens of millions of visitors to our city every year. Savannah’s original city plan, developed by Gen. James Oglethorpe in 1733, has proved durable and sensible guide and is being used as a model by cities around the globe today. Although Oglethorpe predated bicycles by more than century, his city plan creates calm, beautiful, bikeable streets. Unfortunately, parts of his historic plan were obliterated to make way for automobiles. Working with our community partners, we aim to restore and expand the Oglethorpe Plan to ensure that people of all ages and abilities can live comfortably in Savannah without a car.

January 18th, 2017

bicycle protest

Change is in the air with the inauguration of a new American President and many protests planned around the country. It got us thinking about how the bicycle has been used as vehicle of protest over the years and in different parts of the world.

Here are some examples of the bicycle as protest that immediately come to our minds. Please comment with other examples to share.

Critical Mass
Critical Mass is a misunderstood direct action that involves hundreds and sometimes thousands of bicyclists meeting in one location at a designated time and riding through the streets en masse. It started in San Francisco and spawned hundreds of other regular monthly rides around the world. The rides have no leaders or designated route. While some people argue that Critical Mass is more a celebration of the bicycle than a protest, in the early years Critical Mass was an opportunity to visibly demonstrate what public streets could look and feel like when the bicycle, and not the car, is the king or queen of the road.

bicycle protest nuns nepal

Buddhist Nuns Protesting Human Trafficking
We love this story about 500 Buddhist nuns in Nepal and India completing a ~2,500 mile bicycle trek to highlight human trafficking issues in their region. These women are awesome. Who doesn’t love nuns on bikes?

bicycle protest golden era

The Good Roads Movement
In the late 1800s, before the rise of the automobile, the bicycle was taking cities by storm and it led to the Good Roads Movement. The Golden Era of the Bicycle galvanized hundreds of thousands of new bicyclists to protest and organize for better roads. Popular demand for bicycles led to improved road conditions, which ironically, set the stage for better roads for automobiles once the car supplanted the bicycle as the aspirational choice for private transportation.

Women’s Rights in Iran
When the Supreme leader of Iran issued a fatwa banning women from riding bicycles in public in 2016, it called attention to the disparity in women’s rights in a regressive regime. In response, women around the world starting highlighting the issue using hashtag #IranianWomenLoveCycling. The bicycle represents independence and freedom and a ridiculous ban of public biking by any group is an affront against everyone.

Advocating for Sensible Traffic Enforcement and The Idaho Stop Law
When the police start cracking down on non-harmful, non-dangerous traffic violations like bicyclists rolling safely through intersections, it can sometimes lead to a counter-response. San Francisco bicyclists organized a massive protest against police efforts to cite bicyclists for simply rolling through intersections at a popular bicycle route called The Wiggle. Hundreds of bicyclists demonstrated what traffic might look like if every bicyclist obeyed traffic laws “literally.” Many of these activists have been fighting for city leaders to support the Idaho Stop Law, which basically “allows cyclists to treat a stop sign as a yield sign, and a red light as a stop sign.”

Amsterdam Protests For Safer Streets
Much has been written about the 1960s efforts to reduce child fatalities in Amsterdam from fast moving automobiles. These organizing efforts helped put bicycles front and center as the preferred, safer mode of transportation within the city core. Pedestrians and bicyclists shared similar goals to create safer public spaces for everyone. All of this led to policies and city planning that eventually helped Amsterdam become the bicycle capital of the world.

Change comes from many places, within and outside of government, but it also comes at the ballot box when we elect our local City Councilors, Mayors, statewide and national elected officials.

As advocates of the bicycle and public spaces as important gathering places (even for protest), we at PUBLIC recognize that protests can serve as organizing tools to encourage more people to make substantive changes through voting and by pressuring lawmakers, whether your cause is healthcare, immigrant rights, women’s rights, or even the rights of bicyclists to safely move through our cities.

January 16th, 2017

Bike illustrations Roman Muradov

PUBLIC C7 in Gold Dust, by Roman Muradov.

We’re smitten with the bike illustrations Roman Murdov created for our Minerals, Rock! campaign supporting our glittery, Limited Edition bike colors named after precious minerals. Roman is an acclaimed artist and author (his latest book came out in November 2016), whose illustrations have been featured in the NY Times (most recently here), VogueThe New Yorker and countless other publications. Roman is based in San Francisco (home of our flagship store) and we were able to catch up with him over a cup of coffee to learn more about his creative process and, of course, what bikes mean to him.

PUBLIC: Who is Roman?
ROMAN: Author, illustrator, originally from Russia, living in San Francisco for the last 8 years. I do illustration for the NY Times, the New Yorker, Penguin, and many other magazines and publishers. I’ve also written and drawn several books of my own. They are hard to classify, I suppose they fall somewhere between graphic novels and visual poetry.

bike illustrations Roman Muradov

PUBLIC V1 in Cobalt, by Roman Muradov.

PUBLIC: How did you get your start?
ROMAN: I was first a Petroleum Engineer back in Russia. Fortunately or unfortunately I had a somewhat late start, and began working on my art only in my mid 20s. All hardships aside, I think it made me appreciate drawing for a living way more than if I’d started early on. I tried a lot of things and worked a ton of odd (and very odd) jobs, so maybe my current work is also another protracted stage. Initially, drawing was a way to attract people to my writing, but now it’s an important part of my life.

My first big break was with the New Yorker. My career was slow to develop, but after several years I picked up more and more magazine work. Because of my literary obsessions I’m often pigeonholed for fiction and conceptual assignments, which is my favorite thing to do.

PUBLIC: Proudest art moment?
ROMAN: My books. I think the latest one, Jacob Bladders & the State Of Art, turned out quite well. I wrote, illustrated and designed the whole thing, and the book does feel like a manifestation of my personality. It was an intense labor of love.

Bike Illustrations Roman Muradov

PUBLIC V7 in Moonstone, by Roman Muradov.

PUBLIC: You also teach art?
ROMAN: I teach at California College of the Arts. Usually I do an illustration class, and my own elective class that explores the intersection of writing and drawing.

I think it’s a strange and exciting time for illustration, old models give way to new ones and no one knows what will happen tomorrow. We live in a predominantly visual culture, but we still cling dearly to language, so when the two intersect in a new way it pushes the whole industry forward.

Considering that my work can be pretty melancholy, I guess I’m fairly optimistic about the state of the art.

bike illustrations Roman Muradov

Roman, riding his PUBLIC D8i.

PUBLIC: What does the bicycle represent for you?
ROMAN:  The bicycle is something of a childhood dream for me. I never had one as a child and I’ve always wanted one. Then there’s a lot of bikes in my favorite books, Beckett for instance and Alfred Jarry.

The walking rhythm is a big influence on my writing, so I write most of my stuff on walks. Bikes seem to be a good a mid-point between walking and in a car. You still have a connection to the rhythm when biking. I’m curious to see how cycling will affect my sentences.

bike illustrations by Roman Muradov

PUBLIC C7 in Black Amethyst, by Roman Muradov.

PUBLIC: What’s your favorite public space? Place to relax/play/be
ROMAN:  I’m fond of Ina Coolbrith park, it has a great view of San Francisco. When I lived near in the area, I walked to that park nearly every day. All the abundance of shifting lights and smells in that little space is very unique, even for San Francisco, a city that has no shortage of neat places.

I am interested to explore the different places that a bike will be able to take me. Seeing how one neighborhood flows into the other and so forth.

PUBLIC: What’s up next for you?
ROMAN: Writing my first non-fiction book on the subject of doing nothing. Absurdly, I am working very hard on it. We live in a world, where the business of life is replacing life itself. I’m hoping this book will remind people to take a pause for contemplation whenever possible.

Also I’m writing and drawing an encyclopedic comic book about the flood.

Now, listen to the rap + video featuring Roman’s illustrations!

bike illustrations rap song

January 9th, 2017

Nerdcore rap + PUBLIC bikes? An unlikely partnership it may seem, but we promise you’ll crack a smile after listening to this rap song MC Lars wrote for us, inspired by our Limited Edition bike colors named after precious minerals: Moonstone V7, Black Amethyst C7, Red Gold C1, Cobalt V1 and Gold Dust C7. The upbeat tone and clever lyrics capture the fun of bike riding and the spirit of PUBLIC, and we feel sure giving it a listen will brighten your day.

Illustrations are by Roman Muradov, whose work you may have seen in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Paris Review.

nerdcore rap MC Lars

Photo Credit: Nicole Mago

We caught up with MC Lars while he was on tour, to learn about him and his inspiration for the song.

PUBLIC: Who is MC Lars?

MC Lars I am an indie rapper from Oakland currently living in Brooklyn.  I make songs about everything from Edgar Allan Poe, to robots, to zombie dinosaurs.

PUBLIC: We’re guessing many folks don’t know what nerdcore rap is. Could you describe it to the unfamiliar?

MC Lars It’s a term invented by MC Frontalot to describe fandom-inspired rap, often made at home on laptops and DIY studios.  Topics include Lord of the Rings, Nintendo games, and in my case, literature.

PUBLIC: What inspired you to write the song, “Me And My Bike”?

MC Lars When I’m not on tour, it’s so nice to be free and get around on a bike.  It saves you money on gas and parking is easy.  I want to give PUBLIC a shout out for the great work they are doing!

PUBLIC: What does the bicycle represent for you?

MC Lars The future of intelligent transportation!  Always wear a helmet too, because biking helps you stay in shape and it’s important to take care of your body and brain!

PUBLIC: Describe your perfect day on a bicycle?

MC Lars Riding up Mount Tam or down Highway 1 in Pacifica!  Getting away from everything and turning off your phone.  So perfect and amazing.

PUBLIC: What’s next for you?

MC Lars Working on an album and March tour with Mega Ran.  He’s awesome! Check out his music and thanks again for PUBLIC for inviting me to write this song for you.

Now, check out the Limited Edition bikes (we made just 30 of each color): 

Shop our Moonstone V7 Bike. Shop Our Limited Edition Amethyst C7 Bike Shop our Limited Edition Cobalt V1 Bike. Shop our Red Gold C1 Bike.