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Emily Peckenham

Experiments in Urban Environments

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Bike Rides of SF: Dangers and Delights

The idea is to show a series of bike rides I regularly (or not-so-regularly) make in San Francisco, going to work, running errands, getting exercize, or meeting someone. The style of the map is hand-drawn, non-linear, and not to scale. These maps show a topographic cross-section of a given ride, with a start and end-point sketched out visually. Along the ride, the viewer can see the topography, the hard and easy parts of the ride, annoyances and dangers encountered along the ride in pop-out bubbles, as well as some fun or beautiful things you could see along this ride. 

Here is one of my favorite biking in San Francisco photos, which I snapped in the winter of 2012, when the Great Highway along the Pacific Ocean was closed since it was covered in drifting sand. This is both a danger and a delight. But, since there are no cars, the sand hardly counts as a danger in my mind, and the lack of cars and riding freely along a beautiful dune by the ocean - and only hearing waves - is a delight. I want to explore more memories like this in my map. 

This is a map that can only be made by me since it is a map of experiences I had and my point-of-view. I like the idea of maybe integrating the SF bike paths and Google maps suggested "bike routes" over my personal experience of these routes.

For example, the other day Google Maps suggested the best bike route from my office to Pacific Heights neighborhood was Pacific Avenue. This is one of if not the steepest hill I have ever biked up in San Francisco. I could barely push my bike forward without leaning forward as well, not to mention cycling through crowded Chinatown behind a diesel-belching bus, with no bike lane and cars trying to pass on every uphill. However, there were bike "sharrows" painted along the road! What were they thinking? This hand drawn map would include the steep roads and hill and the other dangers. What is the reward? Well, when you get to the top of the hill, you can get a fantastic view of the San Francisco Bay and Marin off down another (steep) set of hills to your right!

Here is the idea sketch where I started working with this idea. This is my ride from my office to my house. There is one hill where I always get really sweaty. I could barely ride up it at first but now I do it every day it is easier. Some of the dangers I pass include a corner that always smells like rank pee and has people jaywalking all in front of me (I hate getting a red light at that corner), and I'm still working on identifying any "delights" on this daily ride. It is truly one of the least pleasant rides I ever take in San Francisco, there is almost nothing I enjoy about it. I hope this project will help make it funnier, at least! 

  1. Why am I making this map? For fun? A client? a 
    gift? To showcase my favorite places? Etc. I am making this map for fun and to recontextualize my daily life and commuting outside of only viewing everything on Google Maps on my phone or computer. 

  2. Why am I the expert to create this map? I am the one who experiences the city from the perspective of a bike and being a naturally anxious and observant person am hyperaware of what is going on around me, but without the positive outlook that might help me notice *good* things more often. Maybe this mapmaking project can help change this outlook and share it with others!

  3. Who is my target audience? Other cyclists in SF, my boyfriend (our apartment maybe); my friends, urban planners; mapmakers and bike route creators in the Bay Area, tourists and more. 

  4. What level of detail do I need to include? (Names, 
    addresses, contact info, street names, website, 
    hours, descriptions, color coding etc.). The details are all experiences - so it should be very detailed to make it more interesting and textured! 

  5. Do I want my final project to be printed or digital? 
    How is it going to be used/ held? What other 
    constraints do I need to keep in mind moving 
    forward? (Note: type can be smaller on printed maps 
    than when viewed on web). The final project should be a digital handdrawn hybrid. I enjoy working in physical media and prefer handrawing, however, I also love photography. Maybe I will mix the two together. I see this as more of a flip book or series of postcard sized prints that could be hung on a wall or shared digitally. 

  6. “Dear classmates, I need your help/expertise/ 
    guidance on how to.....” I don't know how to use Ps or other digitial art software but you can't teach me that here.....so instead, I ask your input on reshaping how you see the world around you, how to visually represent a 3-D concept (topography), and ideas on great materials for handdrawing maps (do you use rulers? freehand? markers? sketch first? types of paper?) 

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