Saturday, October 4, 2008

Riding from the Irvine Train Station to UCI: It Can Be Done!

Having obtained a map of Irvine's bike routes from the UCI Parking and Transportation Office, I was all set to get from the Irvine train station to UCI on Wednesday. Since I have class late on that day, I figured it would be fine to ride a midday Amtrak train down to Irvine instead of taking my usual early morning Metrolink train to Tustin station. It's a bit complicated, see; UCI is near two train stations, but one, Tustin, is only served by Metrolink commuter trains. The other, Irvine, is a stop for Metrolink and Amtrak trains. Despite the greater number of possible train riders using Irvine station, my school has arranged a shuttle only from Tustin station. So, if I want to use Amtrak trains I must ride my bicycle from Irvine station to UCI.
Enter the blazing hot fires of hell! It was a difficult ride not because I was bullied by cars, but because of the heat wave. However, it did not help that the many off-street bike paths in Irvine lack proper signage. I'm very glad that the city has developed such an impressive network of bikeways, but it does make one's ride a little more taxing if one must constantly try out different spurs of path to figure out which one continues in the direction indicated on the map.
It's rather shameful, also, that UCI has not had signs installed to guide riders from the train station to campus. Yet another unfortunate example of my school's overwhelmingly automotive mindset.
Another quibble: Irvine's lovely bikeways map does not distinguish between flood channel trails, which are legitimately off-street, away from car traffic, and glorified sidewalks where you ride along next to traffic. Really there's quite a distinction here, from a rider's perspective. So, Irvine, if you're listening, please add more signs to the trails so that I don't have to hoist my overheated body off my bike every so often and check the map to make sure I'm not heading in the wrong direction. Thanks!
Next time I do this ride, I will make sure to bring lots of water and give myself plenty of time to do the ride. It's about an 8.5 mile ride, and even in the heat and with all my backtracking I did it in one hour, so in the future I could probably do it in 45 minutes or less. Such as it was, I arrived late for a meeting with my adviser, who was so impressed by my lobster-red face that he told my other adviser about it. Oh yeah!