My route to work

My seven mile bike route to work from downtown San Jose to my office in Santa Clara, California includes less than a half mile of on road travel. The rest of my route is entirely separated from car traffic.

My bus from Santa Cruz drops me off at the Caltrain station near the Shark Tank. This map shows Google Map’s bike suggested bike route from there to my office near Agnew and Montague, and it’s mostly the way I go for the bike portion of my commute.

I highlighted the on-street portions of my commute in red, including the three spots where I cross a street to get to my office. Yes, I literally have a paved bike path to my office door.

Bike route to work San Jose to Santa Clara California

Most of this commute is along the Guadalupe River Trail (GRT), which runs from south of downtown San Jose north to Alviso and the Bay for a distance of 11 miles, connecting to the Alviso Slough Trail, which in turn is part of the San Francisco Bay Trail network. The SF Bay Trail, when complete, will connect the shoreline of all nine Bay Area counties, link 47 cities and cross all major Bay Area toll bridges with a walk-and-bike ring around and across the Bay.

Currently, 310 miles of the 500 mile trail network is complete. In the South Bay, I can travel the 20 miles from Santa Clara to East Palo Alto almost entirely on segments of the Bay Trail, crossing through Sunnyvale, Mountain View and Palo Alto along the way.

Here’s my view of the Guadalupe River Trail this morning.


Guadalupe River Trail

The Guadalupe River Trail was built as part of a flood control project. Worker access along the levees were needed anyways, so a multiuse trail was designed into the project from the beginning. A couple of shortcomings:

  • Like many riverfront bike paths, the GRT dips down to near water level at major road crossings, which means frequent flooding during rain storms and debris afterwards.
  • Most of the trail is gravel, which can be a little unpleasant to ride on for many people. At San Jose International Airport, I usually exit the trail and ride on Airport Boulevard. I think probably a third to half of bike commuters seem to do the same thing.
  • A couple of hundred yards of the trail north of Airport Parkway (Brokaw Road) alongside the old airport rental car lot isn’t even gravel — it’s just hard dirt. In heavy rain, this dirt becomes extremely miry mud. Shoes, bike tires and small children are occasionally lost in this mud forever.

All in all, though, it’s not a bad trail and, unlike what I hear from other parts of the country about “recreational” paths, the GRT is reasonably useful for transportation as long as you don’t need to get anywhere during heavy rainstorms.

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8 Comments

  • JNo
    January 23, 2012 - 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Don’t be too complacent just because you aren’t on the arterials.

    I travel(ed) less than a mile on a arterial and I still got hit.  I’ll be changing my route once I’m back on my bike, but humans are humans, and our proclivity for not being aware is a constant.

    Have fun but be careful!

  • January 23, 2012 - 2:32 pm | Permalink

    My job recently moved from near Great America to just off of Brokaw/Airport.  So, while I still take much of this route, I now get off at Brokaw.  

    Before, though, I usually continued N past Brokaw on the W side of the creek until the old rental car road and then crossed over.  That bypassed the dirt section and seemed easier all around.

    BTW, I usually take stay on the gravel by the airport.  Don’t really mind it, other than the fact that the Strava ratings get skewed by those of you who take the road.  :-)

  • January 23, 2012 - 3:07 pm | Permalink

    When it’s dry, I like to ride on the dirt road on the east side of the the river just so I don’t have to do the big U turn by that long term parking lot entrance (aka the old rental lot).  But when wet, I’ll do what you do.

    And yeah, I know exactly what you mean about Strava. 

  • January 23, 2012 - 3:09 pm | Permalink

    JNo – cycleways, so no cars at all. Except for the occasional maintenance vehicle. The bigger hazard are probably the herd of cats that live just south of the airport.

  • Anonymous
    January 23, 2012 - 4:58 pm | Permalink

    You lot in California are doubly lucky that armadillos don’t live there. They make cats seem like models of predictability…

  • January 23, 2012 - 5:38 pm | Permalink

    I was cycling near Lawton Oklahoma several years ago and had to wait for a herd of buffalo to cross the road. They mostly seem predictable and slow moving, except when they’re not.

  • January 24, 2012 - 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Holy Cow! And I thought my current route to work (when I actually get motivation to take it) was cush… http://g.co/maps/vcfq8

  • January 24, 2012 - 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Glad you like :-)

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