Commuting in the Silicon Valley Triangle

Silicon Valley triangle

Creek trails in red. From left: San Tomas Aquino, Guadalupe River, Coyote Creek

If you work inside the Silicon Valley triangle – highways 101, 237, 880 — you have quite a few options to use creek trails, which can relieve some pressure from the daily grind on busy city streets in this area.

The Silicon Valley triangle is home to hundreds of technology companies, such as Intel, Cisco, Samsung, Broadcom, BAE, Citrix, Coherent, Cypress Semiconductor, LSI, San Disk, Cadence, Qualcomm, Yahoo, and the list goes on.

I commuted from Santa Clara for four years in this area, taking the De La Cruz/Hwy 101 overpass. In that time I never found a better route of equal distance. Other routes added about a mile each way, so I mostly rode over De La Cruz.

I can’t tell you how many close calls I had, because I lost count. Most of the road angst occurred going north. De La Cruz lanes narrow as they approach the Central Expressway traffic light, beyond which there’s a double-right exit to 101.

My advice is to move left out of the right-turn-only to 101 where the traffic sign says traffic merge left for Trimble Ave. I had too many close calls with trucks when I stayed in the far right lane.

Going north over the De La Cruz 101 overpass, there’s a right lane exit to 101. I usually stayed left of that lane to go straight, but it also works to stay right and look back at cars to indicate you need to move left. Every time, cars slowed to let me head up the overpass.

Creeks, Creeks, Creeks
The big three are: San Tomas Aquino, Guadalupe River, and Coyote Creek. All have levee paths in the triangle, mostly dirt. It’s suitable for all tire sizes.

An alternative to the De La Cruz overpass is to take the frontage road (Ewert) around the San Jose Airport. A bridge over the Guadalupe River for the old car rental parking area provides trail access. The trail goes under Hwy 101, paved for a short stretch.

San Tomas Aquino path is paved north of Monroe Street in Santa Clara, going under all but one street, highway, and train track. Just beyond 237 it links up with the Sunnyvale Baylands 237 frontage road and the paved trail to Alviso.

Coyote Creek is rideable all the way from Fremont (paved to Ranch Road at McCarthy Blvd.) to Montague Expressway. South of Montague you’re on your own. This portion will link to the existing Coyote Creek Trail, eventually.

South of 237 frontage path from McCarthy Blvd. goes to Coyote Creek and ends at Zanker Rd.

Looking at the map, you will start to see possibilities for incorporating the creek trails into your commute. You’ll find the route longer, probably, but more enjoyable and there’s no stopping, no cars, not as much pollution.

Light Rail
Light rail winds through the triangle, adding more options for the bike commuter, especially someone coming from San Jose or Mountain View. However, if you’re coming from the east, you’re out of luck. In my experience, Milpitas and Fremont are not bike friendly. The primary roads have plenty of traffic.

I’d take the Great Mall Parkway 880 overpass, if convenient. The Coyote Creek Trail will provide a suitable route under 880 and Montague Expwy. My guess when — the year 2030.

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