Roads Scholar



I spent quite a bit of time in my car this week, going to interviews and photo shoots and events related to my job. So I had plenty of time to think about certain truths that I now hold to be self-evident from my education on San Diego County roads since moving here a little more than a year ago.

  • It takes 30 minutes to get from Point A to Point B, with the exception of any route that includes the 805/5 corridor (which doubles traveling time). I have no idea why I continue to consult MapQuest to determine when I need to leave the office to get to wherever I need to go, because it always takes me a half-hour. I suspect that MapQuest is programmed to consistently estimate a travel time between 18 to 23 minutes. My GPS similarly miscalculates arrival times. This week I left a photo shoot in Olivenhain at 4:45 p.m. Jill (the voice behind Garmin’s GPS) said I would reach my Mission Valley apartment at 5:18 p.m. “Hah!” I replied aloud, knowing that I would be traveling the 805/5 during “rush hour” (a misnomer if ever I heard one). Sure enough, I parked the car a full hour after turning on the ignition.
  • The DMV issues licenses to people who cannot count from one to three. Although metered ramps were new to me, I quickly mastered merging onto a freeway via traffic-rationing signals. The signs say two cars per green light may continue on their merry way. Nevertheless, I have witnessed many drivers miss their golden opportunities when they should be the second of the two cars proceeding. This week, I witnessed three cars make the mad dash. One, two. One, two. See? Really not that hard.
  • Still on the subject of metered ramps, the right lane is the best choice 85 to 90 percent of the time. At first, I played the “game” of estimating the number of vehicles (and whether that included trailers or trucks that consume an entire green-light cycle) in each lane of an on-ramp to determine which would get me to the front of the line quickest. But, just as you cannot gauge how quickly a line will move at the grocery store based on the number of items in people’s shopping carts, this tactic proved fruitless. The aforementioned people who can’t count aside, I’ve determined that I almost always fare best in the right lane.
  • Although the right line is your optimum choice for on-ramps, it is your worst option once you are on a freeway. There’s an abundance of “exit-only” lanes in San Diego County, and they come at you fast and furious (or at least furious — that is, when you’re entangled on the 805/5 and slow speeds make it difficult to find a gap into which you can slip).
  • Jill builds up resentment when you cannot or do not follow her guidance. I think she keeps track of all the times she has had to utter, “Recalculating.” When her well of good will has run dry, she may shift into pedestrian mode even though you are 10 miles or farther from wherever it is you are going (typically “home”).
  • Four-cylinder, manual transmission cars never were intended to be driven in San Diego. Firstly, you’re slow off the mark when a light turns green. Secondly, because there are so many signal lights and stop-and-go traffic, you may find yourself on longer trips with a strained clutch leg. Thirdly, four-cylinder, manual transmission cars find it difficult to climb steep hills such as those in La Jolla, Point Loma and Del Mar. And lastly, stop signs and parallel parking on steep hills can invoke anxiety, especially when another driver invades your back bumper’s “comfort zone.”
  • San Diego’s interminable stoplights will lead even the most conscientious drivers into temptation. If public officials do not want us texting (or reading or applying makeup or doing anything else that might distract us from operating a hefty hunk of metal), why do they allow the signals to stay red for such a long time? I wouldn’t dream of trying to text while my tires are turning; but when I’m “wasting” time awaiting a green light, the thought of checking email seduces me.
  • The power of football to alter your plans cannot be underestimated. Unless you are going to a Chargers game at Qualcomm Stadium, keep no less than a 10-mile-radius distance between your vehicle and the Friar’s Road/Interstate 15 vicinity. This admonition extends well before kickoff; pregame tailgating seems to be a doctrine set forth by pious Chargers fans.
  • Parking is always an issue. 

Janice Kleinschmidt


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