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.

January 3rd, 2017

mona caron art bike

The Mona Caron dandelion bike. Photo by Orange Photography.

SF-based muralist, Mona Caron’s work is inspirational on a global level. Her murals have helped raise awareness for indigenous women in central Quito, Ecuador, represented strength and resilience in the form of an oversized weed mural in São Paulo, Brazil and graced a well-ridden bike path closer to PUBLIC’s home in San Francisco, California. That’s why we were honored to provide the “canvas” (in the form of our PUBLIC V7 bike) for an art bike recently designed by Caron and commissioned by the California Bike Coalition (Cal Bike).

We’re featuring the Cal Bike interview (original here) with Caron in full below that describes her inspiration behind the art bike, as well as beautiful images of the bike taken by Orange Photography.

mona caron art bike

The Mona Caron dandelion bike. Photo by Orange Photography.

mona caron art bike

The Mona Caron dandelion bike. Photo by Orange Photography.

The below interview with Mona Caron is by Jenn Guitart, published on 10/11/16 on calbike.org.

CalBike: Why did you choose to use the dandelion on this art bike?

Mona Caron: I like to use botanical metaphors to describe other things, especially the dynamics of social transformation. The botanical metaphor absolutely applies to the bicycle movement. I remember in the early days of Critical Mass, when I was very involved with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, we were seeing more and more bicyclists appearing on the streets of San Francisco. It felt like this simple idea, a simple act anyone could do, was quietly spreading like seeds, and germinating city-wide.

Each social bike ride in the early days was like blowing the seeds of a dandelion puff: I swear, after each ride we’d notice more bike riders in the city. Like a dandelion seed, a single bicyclist in the city is a fragile, small, lightweight, quiet thing; but many people choosing to ride bikes can germinate powerful, paradigm-shifting changes.

Taken individually, each decision to ride a bike doesn’t seem like a big deal, but collectively it can really fundamentally change a city, change our assumptions about public space, our sense of possibility of what a convivial, human-scale city could look like. Just like a dandelion cracks the concrete, bicycling could change our society.

mona caron art bike

The Duboce Bikeway Mural by Mona Caron. (Photo by Lars Howlett)

CalBike: Your first mural, the Duboce Bikeway Mural, is well-known to anyone who rides a bike in San Francisco. How do you see your work as fitting in with the bike advocacy movement?

Caron: When I started riding a bike and became friends with SF’s bike advocates and instigators, I started designing posters to try and entice more people to ride bikes and join social rides. I drew some in a fake-antique psychedelic art-nouveau style, as if urban bicycling was a time-honored thing, and some of my images got picked up and reused all over the world as the Critical Mass movement spread from SF to hundreds of cities worldwide. My bike-related artwork has been featured in publications of and about the bike movement on four continents.

More recently, I’ve been working on my mural and stop-motion animation project WEEDS, and I’ve been making artwork for the climate justice movement, where I’ve also used the dandelion metaphor. The idea is to sow resistance and spread alternatives, in a gentle but powerful way, just like these wild plants do in urban environments.

I attended and gave presentations at several World Bicycle Forums in recent years. In Porto Alegre, Brazil, we painted a dandelion mural, then rode around town disseminating its seeds, painting each seed puff carrying a tiny little bicicletinha, a little bicycle. We stenciled these little bicycle-seeds all over the city on allies’ walls, to spread the idea.

mona caron art bike

The Mona Caron dandelion bike. Photo by Orange Photography.

CalBike: You’ve mentioned the dandelion as a symbol of hope.

Caron: Yes, hope in the sense of a visualization of the dynamics of change. You know, It’s kind of hard to imagine some sudden big revolution changing the world and solving all our problems, and I doubt the changes we need will ever come that way, nor magically delivered by some illuminated politician we elect. Rather, I see things can and will shift through an increasing multitude of small-scale but widespread life-affirming acts, finding the cracks in the system and pushing them open, like dandelions do.

Sometimes our harsh reality feels like cement: it seems to be something so permanent, so hard, seemingly unchangeable. And yet all it takes is a little fissure, and somebody somewhere planting something different in it, doing something alternative, to start its breakdown. Because anything we do, you can bet we are not the only ones doing it. And if it is something life-affirming, and you spread it around, many will join in. So when you get on your bicycle, you know you’re riding with a collective force that will bring more oxygen to this world, literally and metaphorically.

I designed this bike to be a reminder of that.

December 21st, 2016

#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. In this Q&A, The Burrito Project shares their mission to fight hunger in their community by making and delivering burritos by bike.

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.

In January 2017 we’re featuring The Burrito Project in San Francisco. This local group is one of many local volunteer groups under the same umbrella Burrito Project name. The volunteers of The Burrito Project mainly deliver burritos by bicycle to the community living on the street.

 

We interviewed Jimmy Ryan, one of the main leaders of the San Francisco volunteer group. If you’re in San Francisco, follow this local volunteer group on Facebook or Instagram. Read below as Jimmy Ryan responds to our questions about the group and how people can get involved or start their own similar group.

What’s the inspiration behind the Burrito Project?
The inspiration for us here in SF came about because I used to volunteer with the LA Burrito Project. I started volunteering at a soup kitchen in the Mission about a year ago which inspired me to start our very own Burrito Project here in SF. After a few discussions with the folks at the soup kitchen they agreed to host us and we started Burrito Project SF. The idea is to produce healthy, vegan food and deliver them to folks who need them all over the city. It also helps that I grew up working at my family’s restaurants. I love being able to help feed people who need it.

Who’s behind the Burrito Project and how often are you feeding the hungry?
I started the Burrito Project SF with a lot of support from the soup kitchen in the Mission and other friends who I’d been volunteering with. Since starting it up, a few core volunteers have stepped up and formed an informal committee to help in various ways from recruiting more volunteers, managing our website & social media, shopping for ingredients, and sponsoring the event. Right now there are about 5-6 of us who meet monthly and help plan each event which happens once a month on the last Monday of every month. We have a lot of repeat volunteers but also we get a lot of first time volunteers too. It’s great to meet so many awesome people who are willing to donate theirtime once a month. We are 100% volunteer run.

According to the Burrito Project website maintained by the Portland group, there are over 30 projects operating in North America. Do these various local groups exchange info?
Yes and no. There is no formal coordination between the groups but everyone. I’ve reached out to in other cities has been helpful and supportive in helping get ours up and running. Each city is unique so there are different challenges and logistics necessary in each location. Every month we are learning more and trying to improve the project so we can expand and reach even more people in a sustainable way.

What kind of support do you need and how can people help and get connected with you?
We always can use volunteers! Each month it takes about 15-20 people to 
prep the food, assemble the burritos, and deliver them. We are also looking for donations that includes ingredients like pinto beans, rice, cilantro, and canned tomatoes or cash donations to help fund the next event. We are 100% volunteer run, so ALL donations go directly to feeding folks living on the street. For $15 we can feed about 20 people.

What suggestions and tips do you recommend for others who might want to start a similar initiative?
Go for it! It’s really fulfilling and even though it might seem overwhelming to get started, it’s totally worth it. Don’t try to do everything on your own. Find a group of friends, colleagues, or other like minded folks that want to help out and work together. Start small. Even feeding 10 people per month is making a difference. Once you get the hang of things, you can slowly scale up and reach even more people.

Homelessness is a multi-faceted challenge. How do you envision this project in the continuum of other services to help the hungry and the homeless?
To be honest, I’m not sure we have thought that far ahead yet. We envision helping out with toiletries and environmentally friendly water in the near future. Our partners at the soup kitchen have been doing this work longer than we have and they provide a lot of services in addition to the meals they serve seven days a week. When we deliver burritos we also hand out cards with the hours the soup kitchen is open and encourage them to visit them.

December 14th, 2016

PUBLIC Bikes Holiday 2016 – #chompersthecorgi from PUBLIC Bikes on Vimeo.

If you follow PUBLIC closely, it’s no secret that we love dogs at PUBLIC.

For many people, a bicycle can be similar to a favorite dog – a trusted companion to journey through life’s experiences and help you see the world differently.

We’ve featured many fun photos of dogs and bicycles on our Paws & Pedals site.

And we sell this very useful Basil Pasja Pet Bike Basket that attaches perfectly on our PUBLIC rear racks. We also recommend this Basil Pasja Wire Dome that fits with the Basil Pasja Pet Bike Basket.

We’ve also hosted several pet adoption events at our PUBLIC retail stores with local groups like L.A. Love & Leashes, Best Friends Animal Society – Los Angeles, No-Kill Los Angeles (NKLA), and Seattle Humane.

And if you bring your dog to any of our stores, you’ll likely find special treats for your dog from our friends at Honest Kitchen.

One of our favorite dog moments was when the inimitable Buddy Boo was photographed next to our PUBLIC Mini kids balance bike.

Lately, we’ve loved working with Chompers the Corgi. Our Holiday campaign this year included lots of Chompers enjoying our various PUBLIC bicycle accessories.

If you and your dog are interested in collaborating with PUBLIC, or you’re interested in hosting a dog-related event at one of our stores, reach out to us.

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