Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Biking in South Orange County

That's right, I took a break from density and rode around the suburbs on Monday. I had an appointment near the mall in Laguna Hills, so decided to ride my bike from the Irvine train station rather than wait for three buses in order to travel five miles.
I used the Orange County Transit Authority's (OCTA) bike map, and found that it pretty accurately indicated the routes I encountered. There was some typically difficult stuff, like the bike lane disappearing right at a busy intersection with lots of strip mall driveways dumping out and sucking in cars, but for the most part the ride was downright pleasant. Leaving the Irvine train station you ride past the mysterious strawberry fields and get a view of the "Great Park." Actually I rode past a sign that said something about proposed homes and shopping centers in the Great Park. So, folks, don't know what a park is, eh? Think it's just another simulacrum for your themed subdivisions, huh?
Development-rage aside, the well-ordered subdivisions of Laguna Hills ushered my bicycle through their midst with nary a problem.
After that I took a bus to Laguna Niguel and then rode into San Juan on Camino Capistrano. This ride takes you along the lovely creek corridor that hugs our little green hills. There are various farms in various states of disrepair along this ride on one side, and the 5 freeway on the other.

View Larger Map

The next morning, having stayed over in SJC for the night, I took a train back up to Irvine and rode in to UC Irvine. I've done this ride a few times now, and it's grown on me. At first I felt like Irvine's extensive bike lanes and bikeways were an insult to riders, since they pretend like one can ride around suburbia just fine, but now I have to agree. There are some nice bits of the ride, manicured though they may be. Don't get me wrong, I'm not gonna get all DJ Waldie about this and condone the suburban lifestyle, but I did enjoy riding in a city where there's no street parking. Riding is more fun when there are less cars.