Put yourself in the position of a young child. You are given the choice of how to get to school, or to the store, with one of your parents on any given day. Do you want to go:
Buckled up or strapped down in the rear seat of a car with a view of the back of a seat and someone’s head? or
Sitting in front of a bicycle cart with the wind blowing in your face, fresh air, and a 360-degree view of the world with your parent behind, at the helm
This would be an easy choice for most kids. It would be like asking a dog if he would rather have his car window rolled up or down. But kids and dogs do not get to make these decisions on their own. Parents decide these things, based mostly on convenience, safety, or on fear. And thus we have major differences in various countries and cultures.
Let's Rethink The Way We Get Around
Our vision is for a time when we think as carefully about the way we get around everyday as we do about what we eat, how we dress, and how we furnish our homes. It’s not a utopian or unrealistic vision. In most modern cities in and outside the US, people make daily choices between trams, buses, walking, cars, trains, bikes, scooters, ferries, and other transportation alternatives. It’s mainly in the US where we default to the car as our basic mode of mobility. We have over fifty years invested in building a society and culture based on the automobile, and it has left us with some challenges. Our vision is for a rush hour that looks more like what you see in Utrecht Holland.
We’ve got nothing against cars per se. We adore many classic cars like the VW bug or 60’s Mustang, and smile when we see a pretty Smart Car, or a Zip Car. The problem with cars is that we prioritized them over many more efficient and sustainable ways of getting around for most of 20th century. They have gotten a little big for their britches i.e. oversized. And they have also gobbled up a lot of public spaces in our cities, spaces that would be better reserved for people.
Anyway, we are where we are, which leaves us with some opportunities. There is dramatic change afoot, and bikes are playing a part. Why? Because there is simply no smarter solution to helping people move around quickly and economically. There are numerous examples of change spurred on by cities, activists, transportation departments, and rock stars alike, across the country, and around the world.
Bike commuting in the US has grown nationally at 35% since 2005.
New York has put in bike lanes along 9th Avenue,bike racks all over the city, and has bike paths that make crossing the Brooklyn and Williamsburg bridges a blast. See the map.
Portland has become the commuter bike capital of North America, and Louisville and Minneapolis are fast on its heels.
International Bike Conferences like Velo City 2010 are drawing speakers from the US, such as Janette Sadik-Kahn, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation.
Online resources such as Streetsblog are keeping us updated on a daily basis.
David Byrne has authored a terrific book, Bicycle Diaries (Viking 2009) and has held town hall meetings across the US to support smarter urban planning.
Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, is holding Bike Summit conferences and is a fierce advocate of the "Livable Cites" initiatives.
Bikes = A More Civilized Society
Our vision is that more of our urban streets and sidewalks get reclaimed for walking and biking, and that our public spaces are developed for better human interaction and conversation. We'd like to see a closer personal connection between residences with shops, parks, cafes and libraries. We’d like to see streets safe enough for kids and old folks to get around on foot or on a bike. The quality and usage of our public spaces is the measure of the success of our democracy. This is why we call ourselves PUBLIC. We want to help in our own way.
Our Bikes Are A Place To Start
We spent several years developing and testing our steel framed city bikes based on well-established European styling and function. They ride like butter. They are pretty and they are guaranteed for life. And we have some gear to go along with them. These bikes should make you feel like a kid again, and this is every bit as important as anything else.