Saturday, August 10, 2013

Discovering San Francisco's Public Art with Children

A second post on our recent San Francisco trip--this time on the delightful child-friendly art we found all over the city in public places and museums. In prior blog posts, I have written about the elements of child-friendly public art, including art that is tactile and interactive, engages a child's imagination and sense of wonderment, and is loved by people of all ages. Along those lines, here are some of the child-friendly art installations that we happened upon and fell in love with during our San Francisco trip:

Jonathan Borofsky Human Sculptures in San Francisco
Jonathan Borofsky's Human Structures
Plaza at 555 Mission Street
Shaking Man Statue in Yerba Buena Gardens
Terry Allen, Shaking Man Statue
Yerba Buena Gardens
Children flocking to touch the Shaking Man Statue

Trash Sweepers Clock at Exploratorium
Maarten Bass, Sweeper's Clock;
Exploratorium (must watch the video for this) 
Tinkerer clock at Exploratorium
Tim Hunkin, Tinkerer's Clock;
Exploratorium (see this website link for more info on this enchanting clock) 
Exploratorium musical lockers
Exploratorium's musical lockers
Yin Yang public art heads on Embarcadero in San Francisco
Robert Ameson, Yin Yang
Embarcadero in Justin Herman Plaza
Ugo Rondinone  Moonrise Sculptures
Ugo Rondinone's Moonrise Sculptures: March, October, and December
Public Plaza at 555 Mission
Rolling through the Bay toothpick exhibit at Exploratorium
Scott Weaver, Rolling through the Bay at the Exploratorium;
made with over 100,000 toothpicks over the course of 35 years;
the video for this piece has gotten over a million hits

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Cycling in San Francisco with Kids

The Which Way blog has been offline in vacation mode these past few weeks but is back now. After wrapping up a four-day visit to San Francisco, there are tons of things I am excited to post about the city. First up, cycling in San Francisco with kids:

Yesterday, our family went on the most gorgeous city ride we have ever been on before, cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge. In the morning, we rented bikes at the Embarcadero and then followed a popular and well-marked route, which took us along the waterfront, past Fisherman's Wharf and Crissy Field and then across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. We took the ferry from there back to the city.

There were a few parts of the ride that felt unsafe--those parts where the lanes were not buffered from a busy street or towards the end where we were sharing the road with cars--but otherwise the ride was glorious and very friendly for kids ages 8 and up if you are fine with walking up the steeper hills. Unmatchable views, great stops along the way, and no finer way to cross the Golden Gate Bridge. On the ride there we got to view the America's Cup boats in the bay, and we even came across a large group of kids participating in a week-long summer camp for exploring the city on bikes. Very cool! The only downer (aside from my kids bickering along the way) was at the end when we had to wait in line with hundreds of other cyclists for more than an hour to take the ferry from Sausalito back to San Francisco. Apparently, the key is to get to the ferry terminal earlier in the day to avoid the crush of cyclists arriving. As it was, we barely got back in time to return our bikes before the rental stand closed at 7pm. From another website, here is a summary of the route we took, along with good navigation tips.

In San Francisco, 3.5 percent of trips are by cycling, but the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is aiming to increase that number to 8-10 percent by 2018, as part of a larger goal for half of all trips to be by sustainable modes of transportation. The agency's strategy to get there includes getting more families with kids to ride bikes, which means creating safer bike lanes, such as cycle tracks separated from cars. Like Austin, San Francisco is one of 6 cities taking part in the Green Lane Project to install more protected bike lanes throughout the city.

Here are some more pictures from our ride:

cycling with children in San Francisco
We started the ride on San Francisco's newly painted green bike lane along Embarcadero.  In terms of safety, I liked the green lane a lot better than no color on the pavement, but this part of the ride still made me nervous and required lots of supervision on my part since my youngest son is prone to weave in and out of his bike lane. I would have preferred to have seen some kind of buffer from the cars here.

This part of the ride was wonderful, with a shared bike-pedestrian path completely separated from cars.  Some parts of the path were marked off to separate the cyclists and pedestrians. In other parts, cyclists and pedestrians shared all of the path (see below), which worked out fine except for a couple instances when I had to warn my kids to watch out where they were going and to give pedestrians the right of way.

bike ride in San Francisco with children

cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
Approaching Golden Gate Bridge
The ride into Sausalito
ferry ride back with bikes from Sausalito to San Francisco
Picking up our bikes on the ferry after our arrival back in San Francisco

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