Cycling to Foothill College? Here’s the expected route

El Monte Road path under I280. Cyclists are expected to use this path, or didn’t you know that?

I’ve been riding on El Monte Road into Los Altos Hills since 1980 and in that time I have not seen one finger lifted to make it safer for cycling. Or so I thought.

You see, I always assumed the improvement would come with bike lane striping as the road heads through the classic cloverleaf intersection at Interstate 280.

There’s a lot of traffic on a weekday at hours when a student cyclist attending class would be expected to ride here. However, I NEVER see cyclists riding on El Monte Road at these times.

For good reason. Drivers blast through this intersection, always in a hurry to get onto the freeway for a meeting, to which they’re already late.

After seeing some cyclists stop at a crosswalk prior to the freeway, walk across, and then ride under the freeway on a paved path, it occurred to me this is what the state of California and Los Altos Hills expect us to do.

So I tried it out, several times. I can’t say it’s terrible, just bad. For starters, I would never use the crosswalk to get to the path. That’s silly. I’m a cyclist, not a pedestrian. Check the video below to see how I handled it.

I’m not going to completely dismiss the intended route, because it does work after a fashion, but anyone new to the area riding west on El Monte would have no clue that the path existed, nor would they have any idea where it went even if they got on it for the first time.

The issue I have with the route is that anyone riding on the path has to be especially alert at the left turn for Stonebrook Drive and access to the path from El Monte calls for a complete stop before crossing, assuming you can’t see what’s coming.

I’m not crazy about this stretch of El Monte, even with the path, which is why I always take Stonebrook Drive through Los Altos Hills over to Magdalena Avenue. I think the I280 – Magdalena intersection is far safer.

Of course, that route does nothing for a student trying to get to class, but then nobody rides a bike to Foothill College, and I can hardly blame them, considering how the death-defying El Monte Road freeway interchange stands in the way.

4 Responses to “Cycling to Foothill College? Here’s the expected route”

  1. Simon Fraser Says:

    I get onto that path the say way that you did!

  2. G COLEMAN Says:

    i’ve a convenient start about 500 yards east of that nonsense, & i do it often. Never in the years have i even thought about that silly route. Do yourself a favor ride the white line between SB 280 off/on ramps to the west -and hold your line! Then, at the college, some new maps / signs say take bike route down in to the college, but that is specious at best -if you are headed west (eg. Moody).

    be safe – namaste

  3. ChrisHoeber Says:


    Up until about 3 years ago it was illegal to ride a bike on that path in the middle of El Monte. I know of tickets being given for riding on it.

    I have just enrolled in a class at Foothill that meets three days a week and am absolutely astonished at how bicycle unfriendly the campus is. I tried searching the Foothill website for information on bike routes, or an exposition on what the rules about cycling on the campus are (there are signs everywhere saying “No Bicycles”. As far as I can tell, there are only two bike racks on the campus, for about 15 bikes. But parking costs $3.00 (flat rate, even if you have to stop in for five minutes) and the parking lots are often full to overflowing. Once you get to the campus, you must alternate between being a pedestrian and operating a vehicle several times to get to the parking spaces.

    I am sure that the reason for this is that the administration must think “This is too hilly for bikes, so why bother”. The clear message is “Ride a bike – you are not wanted here”. But I am 70 years old and overweight and the terrain is very manageable; but the roads and pathways are not.The roads on campus are certainly not a good place for a bicycle at rush hour, and they are 60 years old; it would be hard to modify them. But signage and marked paths around the campus would be simple.I plan to address this with the administration and we will see if they will listen.

    • Ray Hosler Says:

      Nothing surprises me when it comes to ignorance about bicycles. I can imagine your’re right regarding the administration. “Nobody would be crazy enough to ride a bike to class.”

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